|Photo by Colin Rex on Unsplash|
Here I modestly present our theories regarding why the teaching and nursing professions have never been valued as they should be (and therefore why skinflint governments don't pay up).
As my wife is never wrong, you should sit up straight and pay attention:
1 The if-you-can't-teach... myth. This perverse notion has, at its core, the idea that if you don't quite have the chops then you can teach others. Think of tennis or golf coaches or music critics - very few, if any, were stars in their own right.
2 The old uniforms. Cartoon shorthand for teachers is a pompous old git wearing a batman cape and mortar board and nurses: a stout women in a heavily starched nun-like white outfit with an origami headpiece - you know what I mean. This bizarre get up has no relationship to reality but it makes us a figure of fun and therefore, something that can't be taken seriously.
3 It's not a real job. Anyone can do it. Unlike say doctors, chemists, pilots, and computer software engineers, the popular perspective on teachers and nurses by older generations (okay - our fathers) was and is that taking on life in a service career is akin to dressing up and playing house.
4 There's no money in it so, why, you know, would anyone want to do a lowly perceived job for crap money. Instead - become a professional sportsperson and earn quadrillions. The altruistic impulse to battle it out in an under-resourced environment like a school or a hospital seems glamorous in comparison huh.
5 We're always on holiday. It cheeses people off. So teachers are lazy and should work harder. And be grateful for the allowance they get.
6 Glorified nannies. At heart, teachers look after children and that generalised stigma applies to nurses as well. They look after us when we're sick - like our mums do. These stereotypes persist deep in the psyche.
7 Teachers are trendy lefties: long haired, bearded, pipe smoking, sandals wearing tree huggers. That image has legs.
And so the perceptions continue. Perceptions are hideous blue meanies - hard to battle, and the poor pay continues, unless you happen to live in Finland that is. Ah, Finland...
Bottom line: So, because we're not valued, is it any wonder that NZ is desperately short of attracting men and women to nursing or teaching?