Over the last few days, I’ve had the opportunity to speak to around 60 K – 5 teachers about diversity in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) careers.
Not a lot of what I had to say was super interesting. Women have leveled out at about 26% of the STEM workforce, and we represent twice that much of the total workforce. Underrepresented minority groups represent 29% of the American workforce and only 9% of those working in STEM careers.
Blah didie blah.
I love this stuff, I do, but I don’t really have any relevant conclusions. With the elementary school teachers, I was mostly trying to open a discussion on the topic.
I didn’t get a lot of conclusions out of them either.
What I did notice, though, is there were two – two - teachers who appeared to be over 40. Another 10 or so were pretty clearly in their 30s. I’m sure that of the remaining 48 or so, several more were in their early 30s – it’s just kind of hard to tell, you know?
The point is, the overwhemingly majority of them pretty clearly had a 2 in front of their age.
Reviewing my elementary school experience, my teachers were uniformly young. Even Mrs. Ward, who I thought was super old, looked pretty young when I saw her 10 years later. If they weren’t all in their 20s, they were damn close.
Is this a thing? Do teachers move out of elementary school when they get older? Or do teachers move out of teaching all together as they get older? I think had plenty of middle aged high school teachers, but a) my school attracted lifers and b) I may have overestimated their ages from my I’m-never-going-to-be-that-old smugness at 16.
And, if elementary school teachers are mostly young and this wasn’t just a fluke, what does that mean for kids? Are 25 year olds the only ones who can keep up with elementary schoolers? Are the kids missing out on a level of maturity that they would gain if they spent all day with 50 year olds?
I want to close with an open letter to my first grade teacher.
Dear Miss B,
I really liked your fingernails. Even when you used them to pull my loose teeth that one time.
Also, thank you for using McDonalds as motivation to teach me to read. It totally worked and I seriously doubt you’d still be allowed to do it now.
I really hope that baby you left to have worked out for you. Also, if you haven’t started wearing your fingernails shorter, you might want to consider it. Inch long florescent nails were cool in 1987. Now they’d be lame. Just a thought.