Why are you a teacher?”

I often get asked this question. Except it sounds more like: “Why are you a teacher?” Can you hear that tone? I hate this question. It implies that teaching is somehow a second-rate or unworthy profession.

I will admit, the jump that I made into teaching could have been considered unexpected. But the extent to which I’m asked this question makes me wonder whether many people truly understand the work and moral purpose of teaching. The low status of teaching as a career in Nigeria, relative to other professions and to teaching in many other countries, is certainly telling.

It is perfectly clear to me not only why I became a teacher, but also why others should see teaching as a valued career. So, here is my answer to that often disdainfully asked question.

I am a teacher because I have experienced first hand the role education can have in lifting young people out of a cycle of disadvantage. I am a teacher because my own teachers showed me the enormous impact that these professionals can have on the course of someone’s life. I am a teacher because young people from all walks of life deserve the opportunities that I received through my education. I am a teacher because I can see myself in my students.

I am a teacher because I truly believe that it is the single most important thing that I can do with my working life.