It’s pretty hard to miss it if you look at the Montana Lieutenant Governor's profile picture, which looks like this:
You’ve got Linda McCullough, the Montana Secretary of State, who was a teacher in Bonner for quite a long time and of course Denise Juneau who was a teacher and just about any other Office of Public Instruction director.
If you want to go back even further than that you’ll find that quite a few of Montana’s early politicians were teachers before they did anything else, and that anything else usually involved going to law school or studying to pass the bar on their own, then moving to Montana, although some moved to Montana first.
Either way, there’s something about teaching that naturally flows into politics, and I think anyone that’s been a teacher knows this and can identify it easily.
It’s confidence, communication, and charisma.
- You’re communicating each day – often with people that don’t want to listen to you – and you have to convince them, but more than that, drill a system of thought into them.
- This gives you confidence when you do it enough because you see results from your approaches and methods. What’s more, you see what doesn’t deliver exactly the results you want and you change your methods accordingly. There are few jobs where you can see direct results so quickly than with the classroom.
- Finally, communicating everyday and doing so with confidence naturally lends itself to charisma. When you do the same lesson a dozen times in a week or even many times over the course of a career, you know it inside and out. You know when to drill in the hard-hitting realizations as well as the best place to slide in a joke. After awhile you can anticipate what the other person will say or how they’ll react before they do so.
Of course those people are all students, but students are future voters. Sadly, in Montana not many of those future voters will participate in an election when they turn 18, as it’s right out of the state to college or work the summer after high school.
Hopefully some of these teachers-turned-politicians can figure out a solution to that.