I am an education news junkie. I follow Inside Higher Ed daily, read every story I come across about what’s happening in public education, and keep up with a number of education blogs. And these days, there is a lot of bad news in education -- schools closing, enrollments falling, teacher burnout, corrupt administrations, students unprepared for college or career, grade inflation, tuition costs rising. Lately, I’ve had to ask myself, why are any of us still working here?
Believe me, I get that there’s a lot going wrong in higher ed today. It’s a tough environment for students, faculty, administrators, and pretty much everyone in between. I’ve just weathered my own career upset, and many of the stories I see online from other educators feel uncomfortably familiar. I want to be part of fixing these problems, which is why I continue to read the stories and keep working in this messy field.
But I think sometimes we have to pause, take a breath, look around, and see that in spite of the very real problems, there is still some goodness in higher ed. How can you describe the rush of joy when you witness that “ah-ha” moment in the classroom? Or the admiration and pride that swells in your chest when you watch a student who overcame all odds walk across the stage at graduation? I still know good teachers -- amazing teachers -- who love the work they do even when they are not as recognized or rewarded as they deserve to be. And I am now part of a staff who tirelessly support faculty, students, and administration every day, although most of what we do is behind the scenes. So many good people doing good work, even when it’s hard or the task at hand seems impossible.
Education can be heartbreaking, but it can also be transformative and inspiring. If any of us are going to keep fighting the good fight, we have to celebrate each of these moments when we get a glimpse of the things that are best in education. These are the things that motivate us to keep trying.
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