I’ve noticed that the “Why I Quit Teaching” essay has become something of its own literary subgenre. Do financial consultants write such pieces when they leave their field? Perhaps people in other professions don’t flee their respective fields as often as teachers flee theirs. Those who do leave other fields might not feel as strong of a connection to what they’d been doing as what teachers feel. I suppose teachers might be more verbose and sentimental than some other professionals might be. Whatever the reason, “Why I Quit Teaching” essays abound. With the proliferation of writing on the web along with the stampede of teachers running away from schools, these essays are likely to become even more common. I’m interested in how the subgenre will evolve.
For this post, I’ve collected fourteen “Why I Quit Teaching” essays I’ve found floating around online and put them together in one place. I’ve used only those written in the first person. I’ve excluded biographical pieces or interviews. I’ve ignored pieces built from collections of short blurbs. These are personal epistles offered to the world as an explanation for abandoning the “Noble Profession” (or at least that’s what some still call it).
Most examples are from 2015. Actually, the majority I found in my search were no more than two or three years old. This might reflect the swelling of personal narratives available on the web. Perhaps it reflects the tendency of one article on any topic to spawn twelve more just like it. Of course, an increase in the number of deserters might explain it, too. Regardless of why so many are so recent, the pieces have some common themes. Ex-teachers cite reasons for leaving such as a lack of voice, an over-reliance on testing, not enough or this, and too much of that. The redundancy makes the subgenre somewhat stale. The voices of these ex-teachers blends after just a few articles. Their repeated complaints suggest that public schools have become lousy places to work.
I take credit for none of these articles. I’ve penned a pair of my own, but I haven’t included those in the collection. I submit this collection for general curiosity. The links below are testaments to what teaching does to people. They’re windows into the way people willing to teach for a living think. I’ve listed them in no particular order and I’ve not placed titles with any of them. This gives the collection a look reminiscent of the grave markers at Arlington.
Enjoy. Or weep.