Monday, August 23, 2010

The Most Complex Profession

I heard this story today at a conference and I had to share.

A well known educator was speaking at a conference.  Her topic of discussion was how teaching is the most complex profession.  She provided personal experiences, cited research, and told many stories to support the fact that teachers have the most complex profession.

When she finished, a well dressed man approached her.  The man provided positive feedback to her presentation but disagreed with one thing.  The conversation went something like this:

Man:  I enjoyed your presentation but I believe I have the most complex profession.
Teacher:  Really?  What do you do?
Man:  I am a brain surgeon.
Teacher:  Wow.  That is complex.  Okay.  Let me ask you a few questions.  When you are performing a surgery, how many people do you work on at a time?
Man:  Well just one.
Teacher:  Teachers work on 20 - 35 brains at a time. 
Teacher:  I'm sure there are other reasons though.  Let me ask you this.  What state of mind are your "subjects" in when you are performing brain surgery on them?
Man:  Well....they are under heavy anesthesia so they are unconscious.
Teacher:  I can guarantee you that some teachers wish those 20-35 students were under heavy anesthesia while working on their brains.
Teacher:  Let me ask you one more question.  How many people do you have helping you perform this brain surgery?  
Man:  I have 11 people on my surgical team.
Teacher:  You see sir.  While you are working on one brain of an unconscious person with the help of 11 people, Teachers are working on approximately 30 brains of very conscious students with usually no help at all.  
Man:  You're right.  Teaching is the most complex profession.

I don't think this story takes away from any other profession.  However, I do think it shows the complexity of teaching.  Many people think they know what its like to teach because they went to school for 12-16 years.  Just because you had brain surgery doesn't mean you know what its like to be a brain surgeon.

Teachers have slowly lost respect over the years.  Somewhere along the way we started believing the word of the elementary student over the word of a professional.  If we want better public schools for our kids then we have to develop and instill that level of respect for teachers, schools, and education in general.  It has to start somewhere.  It might as well be with you.

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