What is that makes working as a teacher the best possible job you can have? It is not the pay, and being paid more does not make me any happier. Having less documentation and more time for lessons is sometimes argued being another factor that would enhance the popularity of my profession. It would not make me very much happier.
This Friday Jonas and I experienced something that we later discussed and agreed was what really makes teaching being the best you can do. We took all eight GIGS-students to a field trip to Gothenburg to visit the engineering consulting company i3tex www.i3tex.com There will be a more detailed description of the content of the visit later on in this blog. When the girls and Jonas arrived in Gothenburg I met them at the bus stop and guided us all to the trams that were supposed to take us to the site of the company. The pupils were a bit reserved at the start, but after a while they acted as if they had never done anything else than taking part in business meetings and conferences. They discussed with the invited engineers (all female and rather young) who were perfect role models.
During the first part of the project (in early autumn last year), Jonas asked the girls if there were any of them that had planned to study STEM-subjects at high school. One of them said that she perhaps would do it. When they were asked by the female engineers yesterday, two of the pupils said that their first choice for high school was STEM, and a third pupil said that she had it as her second choice. It is impossible to not come to the conclusion that GIGS is the reason for their change of plans. And I believe that the main reason is not that they all of a sudden find it funnier or more interesting. They have come to realize that engineering is something that they can do. It is not something restricted to boys only.
It is striking how much the pupils’ confidence and self belief has improved. And it is not a matter of doing it “just as well as” the boys or the men. The engineers yesterday and the pupils from Sandgärdskolan were totally engaged in a discussion on the female aspect of engineering in terms of what they knew and contributed to that men and boys could not see or understand. An amazing and strong experience for both me and Jonas who listened in.
So what makes me appreciate my profession so much is when I see the power that lies in changing young persons’ views on themselves and what they can be. Taking part in a school development project like GIGS makes me see these fundamental changes more clearly than ever. Empowering young people. That’s what makes teaching worthwhile.