Ask a Gen Z what the most unforgettable part of school is and you’ll get a diverse response.
Some will say it’s the fire social life.
I mean – what’s more luxurious than spending every day (and parties, formals and schoolies) with your friends?
Others might be thriving as they start to discover their passions and begin their lifelong journey of self-discovery.
But for many, it’s actually their teachers which they’ll realise – sooner or later – have had the most profound, positive impact on their lives by helping them navigate their school years… all the while helping them visualise a more secure and certain future.
But how do they get there? What actually makes a great teacher?
We asked thousands of Gen Zs for our After the ATAR III report, and there were two unexpected standout qualities in teachers that got Gen Zs all fired up.
- Passion that incites passion
More than half (56%) of young Aussies say that their teachers have helped them find a passion that they want to pursue in life, either directly or indirectly.
“I found my interest in economics and politics through my school subjects, and the incredibly passionate teachers that I had,” an 18-year-old female from Victoria said.
“Their passion for the subjects they teach and their clear vested interest in our success inspired me to do extra research outside the study design in order to better understand the subject.”
A 19-year-old from Tasmania told us how all the teachers she was fortunate enough to have were extremely passionate about the subjects they taught.
“This was reflected in their everyday teaching in the classroom and in one-on-one chats,” she said.
“Being surrounded not only by people passionate about their job but also incredibly motivated to guide students into discovering their own passions sets an example and demonstrates how work can be meaningful and enjoyable if it is something an individual truly feels an affinity for.”
An 18-year-old from Queensland also said how her teacher had given her the boost she needed to forge a career in science.
“My absolutely incredible chemistry teacher inspired me with her amazing and very infectious enthusiasm for the subject,” she said.
“I’m now just about to embark on a chemistry degree with a plan to go into research, and she’s almost as excited as I am for it.”
- Helping students relate what they’re learning to the outside world
Many Gen Zs said one of the most important factors in what makes a teacher great is in explaining, in meaningful detail, the real-world applications of the high school curriculum.
“(What I loved about my teachers is that they) always told us about how what we were learning could be applied in the real world, meaning that it was easier to translate an interest in a subject into an actual career plan,” a 19-year-old male from Western Australia said.
“I think that if this was more common the trope of ‘everything we learn in school is useless’ would be less prevalent.”
Meanwhile, an 18-year-old male from the ACT told us the best thing their teachers did was apply ‘real life’ situations to concepts students were learning in class.
“It gave me extra knowledge and made me realise how cool the real world is,” they said.
“School allowed me to dream using the material I had already been given through giving me problems to solve that fuel my passions.”
As our lives move further away from school it’s easy to start forgetting the playground memories and party nights we had, but what often sticks with us most and is truly unforgettable is a certain teacher who helped us get to where we are today.