For as long as I have been teaching high school students English I have never known exactly how much money I earn. I know I should be more vigilant when it comes to knowing how much each pay check will be, how much the government is withholding, and how much I am putting toward retirement. I always figured that it would be come more important the longer I was teaching. I often figured that I was just young and that I wasn’t as concerned as some of the other veteran teachers.
Well, here I am now 14 years into my professional career and I still don’t care how much money is in my check every two weeks. Part of this stems from the fact that my highly intelligent wife takes care of our finances. I suppose if it ever came to the point where I had to finance our lives on paper I might be much more attentive to the compensation I receive for doing something I totally enjoy doing.
Desiree and I began talking about this issue the other day. We were talking about motivation and the reading we have been doing in Dan Pink’s Drive. Pink described a study done long ago where people were asked to create a simple task without any type of reward. The group completed the task quite sufficiently. Later, the same group was asked to do the same task and earn a reward. The result, again, was a job well done. Finally, the group was asked to do it a third time without the reward/compensation received the second time. This time the group was not productive at all due to the lack of external compensation. This got us thinking….
I posed the question to Desiree, who is a social worker, if she would do her job for no compensation. I have to be honest, and this might be a cop-out, but if I didn’t have expenses or if there was a way to eliminate my expenses, I believe I would work for nothing. Now, of course I can’t do that because I am a part of a very strong and healthy union, but I enjoy filling my days helping people.
Desiree was a lot more on the fence than I was on this issue. I believe that if I was motivated by the money I was making I probably wouldn’t be willing to get much better in my profession. Let’s face it, teachers are not as well compensated as they arguably should be. If I were to calculate the amount of money that I actually earn per hour considering the amount of time I put in outside of my work place, I am sure that number would be astonishing low.
I am excited to go to work each and every day. Writing this post has been the most thinking I have ever done on this subject. I enjoy the students I help 180 days of the year. I am surrounded by positive people and quality educators who, I am sure, mostly share my sentiments. I guess it’s ironic for me to say I would work for less or no compensation given the fact that I have no idea how much I earn right now. However, whatever that number is, I believe I would do it. I thank God for leading me down this road. The experience of my job, students and colleagues, is way more rewarding than any dollar amount ever could be or will be.
What would you do? In your current job, would you work for no compensation?