Every mother Economist Thomas Sowell It formed the basis for many introductory economics lessons I’ve taken over the past 12 years: “There are no solutions, only trade-offs.”
As the new school year begins for many, I am sure that fellow economics teachers have planned assignments that are attractive to students, and encourage them to think about what economics is—limited resources versus unlimited needs—as opposed to the assumption that the topic is only about money, as many would suggest. Tenth year enthusiasts during their first lesson.
But this year, I encourage all teachers to think about this: There are no solutions, only trade-offs.
The defeatist tone serves no one
The Facebook group “Life After Teaching – Exit the Classroom and Thrive” first caught my eye earlier this year, and in recent months, the group appears to have gained traction, with a member questioning Nadim Zahawi on LBC, and one of the group’s managers giving an interview on the BBC platform. The group exists to support teachers in leaving the profession.
I find it very frustrating that so many dedicated professionals feel that they have been pushed out of education due to poor working conditions and an unhealthy work-life balance.
As we enter a new school year after the pandemic, along with the appointment of a new education minister, I naively expected an even greater air of optimism. However, the dominant tone among many educators is still defeatist.
It seems that the unhealthy and unrealistic demands placed on teachers are not limited to the profession itself.
A wealth of data suggests that teachers are not the only ones forced to choose between dedicating countless working hours just to keep up with demands, versus spending time with their families as well as other obligations.
One set of research conducted last year by NordVPNTeams have found UK employees increased their workweek by 25 per cent after switching to working from home.
Another survey also found that 44 per cent of UK employees said more work is expected after the switch. As we know, not many professions have seen employees return to the office full time and it seems that working at home is here to stay.
Limited time resource
FFamily dynamics have also changed. According to the Office for National Statistics, since 2020, the most common work arrangement has shifted to full-time parental work, and this is now the case for nearly three-quarters of families. Prior to 2020, the most common arrangement was for one partner to work full-time and the other to work part-time.
This undoubtedly poses increasing pressures on individuals and families. We continue to hear about the “new normal” after Covid, and unfortunately, these factors are now affecting our daily lives and well-being.
The concept of finite resources and unlimited needs goes beyond an introductory lesson in economics. Of course, there are limited budgets within schools but, as teachers, our time is also limited while the demands of our time seem unlimited.
With the continued growth in technology and the growing expectations of employees to be available at home, outside of the traditional work environment, the burden is now on employees to set firm boundaries.
The gist of the first lesson in economics is that we all have choices to make. It is sad to see that so many teachers feel they have no choice but to leave the profession. National Education Association It found that 44 percent of teachers aspire to leave the profession by 2027primarily due to increased workload.
We must put ourselves first
These sentiments are shared across industries, with Slack Reports Nearly a third of UK workers are seeking a career change later this year. We must now choose to prioritize our well-being.
To say there are no solutions is perhaps a bit pessimistic. However, there are certainly no instant solutions to the general fatigue that professionals feel.
So far, little has been said regarding Education Secretary Kate Malthouse’s intentions for schools and teachers, but as the new school year begins, it is imperative that we, as professionals, set our own intentions to ensure we do not trade luxury for ourselves at the expense of our never-ending to-do list.
Claire Keogh is a high school economics teacher
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