Meet The World’s Most Overpaid Teacher
September 2, 2013

Meet The World’s Most Overpaid Teacher

There always seems to be contentious debate about the level of teacher’s salaries in this country. At the heart of it always seems to be the effectiveness of teachers compared to their incomes. I’ve personally known amazing teachers whose classrooms are places of exploration, learning, and growing. Such individuals, I feel, are often underpaid for the contribution they make to their communities. While others I have met make me wonder how they pass off their ineffectual ramblings as teaching. And, it always seems, these teachers somehow command the highest salaries compared to their colleagues. Baffling.

Obviously, the bottom line is that the system is broken. And we could engage in a rather lively debate on the need and effectiveness of teacher’s unions, and whether a better system even exists. But that is not what I wanted to share in this post. Instead, I wanted to consider that perhaps the future of education is a vast departure from what we experience today.

Instead of outlining some grand plan, I instead offer the case of one teacher who has been walking a different path. Stepping out of the traditional classroom, a teacher in South Korea began to engage in online education — offering his services through the Internet to anyone who needed them, regardless of where they were located.

Kim Ki-hoon teaches English by recording three hours of lecture a week and posting them online. He then spends another 50 – 60 hours a week engaging with students, answering questions, creating lesson plans, and writing supplementary material. He earns a living by selling these resources for about $4 a lecture. But this modest cost provides a rather un-modest income: some $4 million a year.

Of course, Mr. Kim represents an isolated case. There may be others out there touting their instructional expertise through the Internet for generous salaries, but I suspect the numbers are few. So, don’t quit your traditional teaching job just yet.

But are we seeing the beginning of a new paradigm in education, where students more and more forsake the usual face-to-face classroom for a virtual one? The answer is that it is already happening. There currently exist online schools that allow children to receive accredited instruction over the web.

As these offerings increase, and if the quality proves to equal that of the traditional path — something that I don’t believe has been established — we could be headed to a free market economy for education. Instead of relying on public instruction or private school to educate our little ones, we may be able to select the educational choice that best fits our lifestyle, income and needs more fully.

What interests me most is how traditional schools will evolve to meet the changing educational landscape. In order to compete with the emerging options, schools may begin to compete for the best teachers, and perhaps even offer non-traditional delivery methods themselves. Under such a scenario the highest quality teachers would probably be rewarded with salaries more commensurate with their classroom effectiveness; such is the way of free market economies. I doubt the day of the $4 million public school teacher is coming, but there is certainly change in the air.

Image Credit: Kenishirotie / Shutterstock

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