Dear Dr. Anderson,
Thank you for your response to the opinion article “Just Listen to Teacher: Don’t Study Education at MUN if You Want to Live and Work in the City” posted in The Muse on Oct. 2.
In your response letter, you mentioned Memorial University’s education graduates “have excellent reputations as some of the best-prepared teachers in the country” and I think you have your Field Services division for this since the experience I gained from my internship was by far the most applicable part of your program. I would also like to thank them for pairing me with the teacher they did as she quickly morphed from a mentor, to “Work Mom” to a dear friend in the six years that I have known her.
I was not aware that, “[f]ive years ago, [you] decreased admissions to [the] Bachelor of Education primary-elementary and [the] Bachelor of Education intermediate-high school programs by about 200 seats annually.” This is also refreshing news. When I completed the program, the faculty actually ran ads into the summer and extended the deadline to apply, according to a colleague. If memory serves me correctly, they also did the same thing the following year.
You also point out that “many education graduates take teaching positions throughout Newfoundland and Labrador, in other provinces and territories, and in other countries – gaining valuable experience and enjoying rewarding careers” which is not a point for debate but was not really the point of my article. I was talking about living and working in St. John’s specifically. I spent 18 years living in rural Newfoundland and realized that living there was not for me, just as living in the city is not the ideal choice for others.
You mentioned that “graduates find careers in fields related to education, though not necessarily in a direct teaching role” and that an education degree enables graduates to “work in related fields, such as delivering education or training programs for businesses and organizations”. I would happily take one of these related careers and in fact, have worked in a non-profit tutoring setting which was part-time and only paid minimum wage. I have also had an out of province job offer at a specialized, not for profit private school rescinded because I asked about pay and prep time. I’m also aware of other types of jobs such as adult basic education instructors, ESL teachers, settlement workers in schools, and countless coordinator or program facilitator positions that require an education background because I have applied and interviewed for them.
It was the piece from the Memorial Gazette highlighting a recent MUN Education graduate working in one of these positions that prompted me to write the initial article. You, as well as all of the other commenters failed to acknowledge this self-proclaimed “fluff piece”. As my friend who moved away for work said, “it’s unfair for the MUN Faculty of Education to romanticize the stress and disappointment that envelops the (substitute) teaching profession these days,” and that “she (the recent Grad that the article discussed) makes little more than minimum wage; I would know; I was employed in the same position three years ago.”
You must have been quite engaged in this article Dr. Anderson as you, or someone with the same name and job title also commented online saying:
“Dear Cranky: While I feel for you personally, In ‘fact’ at MUN Education we cut 200 seats about 5 years ago. There are a thousand less grads out there as a result. Also, we don’t promise anything there than a good program, which you have. There are 1,000,000 teachers needed in the world TODAY. I had to move to find work and my career turned out ok. It’s not a sacifrice to work in other parts of the province or world, but an opportunity. You may that have too as well. Thanks from an less cranky old Dean.”
I appreciate the cleverness in addressing me in the humorous way I presented myself in the article. I am personally happy for you that your career turned out “ok”. I would suspect though that there are even less “Dean of Ed” positions out there compared to teaching positions in the city.
Thanks again for taking the time to respond. I also want to thank everyone who took the time to read the article, comment and share it. Please remember that this written from my own personal experience. Aside from the people I mentioned whom I know have gone through similar experiences, I can’t speak for everyone who has studied Education but it was also eye-opening to read the comments from people who identified as well as those who decided to look “outside the overpass” for work and faced their own struggles.
I will leave you with a quote from the friend that I have referenced in this and the previous article; she is less than thrilled with the “opportunity” to leave her friends and family for work. “Opportunities for one person,” she said,” may be huge sacrifices for another.”
I chose to stay which is my prerogative just as the people who commented telling me to move, or shared similar stories have theirs. I wrote from my experience and just hoped to enlighten future Education students or at least make them think about the type of career they want and where they want to live. I wish someone had done that for me.