Eleanor Roosevelt: My Day: September 3, 1946:
HYDE PARK, Monday—There are two professions which evidently no longer appeal to either men or women, and yet in the past they were the two which drew the most intelligent people—people who wanted not only to make money but to be of real service in the world. One is the teaching profession and the other is the nursing profession.
In the teaching profession, it is especially difficult to get men, who feel that they must earn an adequate living for themselves and their families. Even women, however, are not going into this profession the way they once did. The world conference of teachers held recently at Endicott, N.Y., showed that this was a major difficulty in all English-speaking countries. Great Britain, Canada and the United States have the biggest shortages, but the shortage in the profession exists all over the world.
It is a major catastrophe for the future. One of our metropolitan newspapers says that the first thing to do is to give teachers adequate pay. This unfortunately cannot be done unless throughout our communities we change the status of the teacher. In the past, even in the early days of this country, the traveling teacher—who had only a few books and only taught here and there for a few weeks at a time—was given a standing and was looked upon with such deep respect that his position was envied by all. With the growth of our material and industrial civilization, this respect for learning has changed. Teaching must bring returns more nearly comparable with those in business for teaching to be a respected profession and attract able young people.
In addition, the teaching profession will have to be granted freedom of thought and action. School boards cannot control the minds of their teachers. No one with self-respect will be a teacher under such circumstances.
The nursing profession affects women far more than men, since comparatively few men take up this profession. But today nurses are needed in public health, in industry and in state and federal institutions, and they require far better training than in the past.
It is not just home nursing that is suffering, or even private patients in hospitals. It is the whole community.
Here again, better pay would seem to be a factor, though in some cases nurses now have adequate working conditions and adequate pay.
It is opportunities for advancement and for standing in the community, however, that will probably attract the young people to this profession.