What Education Can Learn From Other Professions

I quite often find myself comparing teaching and education with other professions and sectors, just to check whether the particular point I’m raising is actually valid and happens just within education. From doing this, I’ve found that there are many overlaps and similarities between education and other sectors, and that most of the time the other sectors have got things set up a damn sight better. I’ve collated the best ones I’ve found here.


There is no ‘low level disruption’ in prisons, and full scale kick offs are actually very rare. Prison Officers are paid less, trained less and are less qualified than teachers. The best thing I noticed about prison discipline is that if there is an unresolved problem, it escalates, until it reaches the Governor, who then makes it their personal business to sort the matter out. Prison Officers who were unable to resolve the issue are never blamed or questioned. Ever.

Schools could support teachers and their behaviour management decisions better. Behaviour should be the ultimate responsibility of the head, no matter how trivial a matter it is.

Law or Banking

If you expect your staff to work upwards of 50 hours per week, and also to immerse themselves so much into the culture of the job so that they are living, eating and sleeping it, then you pay them high salaries.

Teachers are now expected to not do anything outside of the classroom that could be deemed to be immoral or questionable, and are also required to prepare massive amounts of paperwork which sees most teachers working 12 hour days regularly.

I know bankers are expected to socialise with workmates or risk losing their job, and lawyers will work all hours of the night preparing a case. For this, they are compensated appropriately. Teachers are not.


When the police find someone doing something illegal they arrest and charge them. That’s that. Truancy is illegal isn’t it? As I understand it, parents are prosecuted if their child is not on the register of any school or if their child has missed a significant percentage of school days.

What about tightening it so that this procedure is invoked at the first unauthorised absence? What if parents were fined for every time their child misses school for no good reason? Even better, if they were billed for the cost of that days worth of schooling?

What if behaviour and homework policies were legally binding documents, so that truancy law procedures are invoked if parents are not supporting their children in following them? If it’s law that they go to school, it should be law that they follow that school’s rules.


Modern libraries are places of informal learning, community support and equal access to information. Most librarians spend their time fielding reference questions from members of the public who are having a hard time wading through the vast array of free information available. They tailor the books that they buy in to best fit what their particular community wants.

Schools could achieve a lot by being able to change their curriculum to meet the needs of their student cohort. This would do a lot to raise motivation, and it would also promote the fact that education is interesting because of the subject matter – not because the teacher has turned it into a gimmicky game.

Also, reading plays a massive part in learning about any subject, and should not be dismissed as something that only enables students to retain 10% of what they’re reading about.


Patients who are ill want treatment. Doctors can refuse treatment if a patient is being abusive. Doctors also don’t have to force you to take the treatment – because if you don’t do it, you’ll die. That’s usually enough of a motivator for anyone.

Students who don’t have enough knowledge or skills generally don’t want education. Teachers can’t refuse to teach a student if they are abusive – you have to have that person in your class and you have to make them behave. The responsibility for that happening is therefore on the teacher, not the student.

Also students are never allowed to die, or in other words to fail, because again that would be a failure on the teacher’s part. A doctor can say that they did everything they possibly could to help a patient, but a teacher is not allowed to have a student fail and to say the same thing. They must improve their practice so that no student ever dies ever again.

A lot of the main issues with teacher’s working lives are present in other types of jobs: it’s not uncommon to have excessive working hours, a culture of bullying, or high risk situations – but to have them all together and at such an endemic scale is not typical.


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