Generational change reflected in falling teacher numbers

1 JANUARY 2003

A leading Charles Sturt University education academic argues that falling teacher numbers may have more to do with generational change rather than declining career conditions or increasing behavioural problems in the classroom.

A leading Charles Sturt University (CSU) education academic argues that falling teacher numbers may have more to do with generational change rather than declining career conditions or increasing behavioural problems in the classroom. 
 
Associate Dean in CSU’s Faculty of Education, Professor Jo-Anne Reid, contends that teachers are also subject to generational change and this will influence the numbers remaining in the profession.
 
“Teachers from the ‘Baby Boomer’ generation who chose one career and stuck to it for thirty or forty years are now approaching retirement. The so-called ‘Generation X and Y’ teachers, now up to 45 years old, are more likely to change career after ten or so years, which is also seen in many other professions,” Professor Reid said.
 
“Some commentators consider these teachers an ‘issue’, or a ‘problem’. But why? It is not generally seen as a bad thing that people change professions, expand their knowledge and skills, and keep up to date in a range of industries. Why would teachers be any different?”
 
Professor Reid says that rather than complaining about falling numbers and an ageing workforce, commentators should celebrate teachers as highly educated professionals who are able to move in and out of teaching and other professions.
 
“Surely this is an indication of the quality of their education and training, and the range of marketable knowledge and skills that a teacher education degree can provide,” Professor Reid said.
 
“Teachers are no different to other professionals - teaching is not a vocation, it is a profession. We need to look at how we can get other professionals to enter into teaching later in their careers.
 
“We also need to ensure our teaching education institutions, such as CSU, are funded and equipped to meet the increasing demand for new teachers and retraining other older professionals.”

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