Youth and (relative) Inexperience in Education

I was lucky enough to take part in Sonya Van Schaijik‘s initiative “TeachMeetNZ” on the weekend and presented a little 3 minuite presentation titled Youth and (relative) Inexperience in Education.

My slides and notes are below if you are intereted in my experiences of being a new, young teacher in New Zealand.

Hi, I’m Emma and I’m in my 4th year of primary school teaching based in Auckland. I’d like to talk a little about youth and relative inexperience in education today.

I grew up in a rather traditional household. Hardly “children should only speak when they are spoken to” but still a pretty old fashioned upbringing for the 80s and 90s. I grew up with my grandfather as a figure head who will still only sit at the head of the table, demands respect and ensures everyone knows he is the PATRIACH! I come from a family where children listened, obeyed and respected adults

Hopefully you don’t get me wrong, I had a lovely childhood and wouldn’t change a single thing. But, as with everybody  I am a product of my upbringing.

I entered the workforce believing that respect was earned over a long period of time;  that wisdom was like a fine wine and evolved with maturity; that you could expect to ‘do your time’ at the bottom of the heap in a workplace, before anyone would listen to you.

Since I’ve been in education, I’ve learned something. Of course you earn respect, you do get wiser as you age and you can’t expect to walk into high paying managerial jobs straight out of university. BUT, in the education world, young, inexperienced teachers are treated with more respect than any other industry I know of.

So here’s the pat on the back: I’ve found that, in education, if you have something decent to say, you will be heard, no matter what your age, position or time in the job.

Not only do young teachers have a voice, their perspective is often considered important. I’ve talked to so many people who really value the ideas of teachers who are new to the game.

They have the ability to look at the status quo and ask WHY are we doing that?! Is there a better way to do it? They don’t have years of ingrained practices that can get in the way of such questioning. New teachers are often also incredibly reflective and analytical which, of course, helps with achieving quality practice.

I’ve also learned that you can be an effective and respected leader when you’re under 30. This is revolutionary for me and never seems to happen in my friends’ industries!

In education I think we see past a lack and wrinkles and comfortable shoes and look for the quality in thinking and practice.

So, I’m glad I decided to become a teacher after a fair while of avoiding the profession and following in the steps of my father. I’ve had to completely re-evaluate the place youth has in any work place and am so pleased I was so wrong!

I hope you feel a warm pat on the back, I hope I’m not in the minority of new teachers who feel the same way and I hope we continue treating new teachers the way we do. I’m certainly trying to give the same experience to the young members I work with as a new leader.


Have a look at the entire TeachMeetNZ session here.


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