The path to becoming a teacher may give us some clues as to the motivation behind becoming one.
I would suggest teaching others was one of our first successful survival strategies. Showing our social group how to be better hunters, farmers, trackers or take better care of each other probably increased our chances of survival. Perhaps having a disposition to teach others like any other trait or characteristic that helps a species survive in that it gets passed down from one generation to the next. Is it possible then that some people are natural born teachers?
Teaching others is not the same as becoming a teacher. I would argue that showing somebody how to do something is not the same as teaching either. To me teaching others is a complex process which goes far beyond showing somebody how to do something or providing information in the form of facts or getting them to do something by emulating what you are doing. Teaching to me involves empathy, analysis, evaluation, insight, determination, patience, creativity, problem solving skills, the building of relationships, and probably a lot more.
If we can determine what comes first we may be in a better position to understand what motivates some people to teach. A sort of “chicken and egg” scenario, do we find ourselves naturally deposed to teach others and therefore pursue a career where we are in a position to do so or do we decide to be a teacher and train in order to have a career as a teacher? Then there is the old saying “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.” Is teaching a way of getting close to what you really want to do but lack the talent or skill to make a career out of it?
So what motivated the people you know to teach or if you are a teacher what motivated you?
I guess motivation is a very personal thing but I wondered if there are some fundamental reasons why people decide to make teaching a career. In a recent discussion contributors suggested five motivating factors behind becoming a teacher:
- Helping others
- Sense of fulfilment
Not everyone held to the same factors and no one mentioned them all. It would be interesting to ask people to rank them in order of degree of motivation to teach.