Kesa sent me this article about how the exodus of teachers out of the profession isn't really about "burnout".

People get into teaching for moral reasons, and they are leaving for moral reasons.

Teachers are demoralized, and their departure from the profession is often an act of a conscientious objection, not of personal burnout.

Focusing on "burnout" puts the onus on individuals rather than the systemic conditions that actually need attention.


The author of this recent Nature article did a good job of highlighting systemic issues:

"Nature spoke to more than a dozen scientists leaving academia, who describe toxic work environments, bullying and a lack of regard for their safety and well-being as factors in their decisions."

"Others who face systemic racism and sexism are finding themselves forced out, partly owing to structural biases."


My sister (in the UK) is one of those about to make an exit. Two Master's degrees, nearly done with a PhD, loads of experience, recipient of prestigious research grants...and she wants out.

No fulfillment from the work, always chasing the next grant, always having to prove herself in the face of hostile critique. Soul-depleting.

@glyph yes, exactly -- the full on shift to a for-proft model without support is one of the underlying systemic issues I think? This is partly manifesting in public schools here in the US as more effort is put on investing in educational technology, and educators scramble up administrative ladders only to jump ship into corporations that are profiting.

@edsu @glyph

Same old same old. A decade in treadmill academia was sufficient for me - the 90s. It's more pernicious now. Relieved that's no longer a necessity for this baby-boomer person.

But it was a version of this that drove him out of corporate cadetship and 'back to school' as a postgrad in the 70s! p11: Walker's long march thro the emotional institutions.

@mike_hales actually the original context for this wasn't academia per se, but public k-12 education in the US. I think it is useful to think through how some of the systematic problems have been (and have not been) a constant.

@edsu If only the teachers did _enough_ self-care or the right _kind_ of self-care, then they wouldn’t suffer from “burnout” and they could continue to be stubbornly generous automatons…

@edsu @pixouls I walked by a school in an adjacent neighborhood the other day. The neighborhood is about 40% Black, but all of the kids I could see on the playground were Black. My guess is that any white people for whom that's their school send their kids to private school instead.

A large fraction of public schools in the US have re-segregated, and rather than treating this as an emergency our governments and school boards seem to simply be tolerating it for the most part. The system doesn't seem likely to fix itself, so having teachers leave for moral reasons seems like it may be the only to force us to stop pretending the public school system is working.

On the other hand, it's also "evaporative cooling", in that the teachers who would say something (and have been saying something) are leaving, and the ones who stay or join are likely to be the ones who are fine with the status quo. If that happens then only some external stressor is likely to cause any reform. And external stressors will become more likely as parents who didn't send their kids to public school fight against public school funding, find ways to divert more tax dollars to private schools, and move out of places that force them to pay a lot for public schools they don't use.

@edsu This: "Many teachers become dissatisfied not because they’re exhausted and worn down but because they care deeply about students and the profession and they realize that school policies and conditions make it impossible for them to do what is good, right, and just." So true it hurts, even in a country with a strong public school system.

Sign in to participate in the conversation

A Fediverse instance for people interested in cooperative and collective projects.