To teach or not to teach

Belgium suffers from a growing teacher shortage. More teachers are pensioning, greater competition occurs with other professional sectors and fewer students are starting a teaching course. But what are the reasons for students not wanting to become teachers? Is it because they have bad experiences with teachers in their past or is it because they simply cannot live up to the expectations of a great teacher they once had?

Students Andrei Stiru and Cedric Ariën each share their experience with a teacher that has left either a positive or negative impact on them.

Andrei: ‘Unfortunately, I have a very negative experience concerning my French teacher in my third year of high school. Mr Jansens* was old-school, very hard in his methods and extremely strict when it came to grading and punishments. He was maybe sixty at the time, had a very violent temper and enjoyed penalising pupils for the slightest attitude of disrespect. One of my classmates, Quintin, often clashed with Mr Jansens personally as he was quite a loose cannon and never did his homework. After weeks on end of skirmishing between the two of them, one day, Mr Jansens suddenly snapped. Following a rude remark made by Quintin, Mr Jansens walked up to him and grabbed him by his collar. He then threw him onto the desk right next to me, pressing him down on the flat surface. Since that moment, I was absolutely terrified of him to the point where it even impacted my grades. With the workload he gave in combination with the stress and fear, I was actually scared of going to school for a while. Since my experience with Mr Jansens, I’ve had an aversion to strict teachers and still have an issue with authority.’

Cedric: ‘Mrs De Klerk was my biology teacher in my first year of high school. I have her to thank for the way she taught me back when I was twelve years old. Because of her, I became neat and organised, something no other teacher had really disciplined me on before. For homework, we often had to draw diagrams of cells and if the pencil lines would not connect exactly back to each other, she would circle it with her bold red pen and take marks off. In the beginning, it all seemed like nitpicking to me and it actually annoyed me quite a bit. However, her strict remarks stuck with me for my next assignments and if done correctly then, she would give me positive feedback. Although Mrs De Klerk was strict, her teaching methods were always fair.  Even now at my university-level studies, I still have her to thank for the way I organize my notes and my orderliness in general. Her honesty when grading automatically motivated me to always deliver my best work for her class. I am grateful for her passion for teaching and the fulfilment I received when following her biology class. I am currently in my third year of studying occupational therapy in which I believe Mrs De Klerk unintentionally played an important role when I had to choose my course.’

*This name was changed in order to protect the privacy of the individual.


Text: Charlotte Ariën, final editor: Renske Van Hoof
Image: Danist Soh via Pexels, icon0.com via Pexels, Max Fischer via Pexels