|the complete mindf*** of the French higher education system (source) - graph already far outdated as it changes roughly every Tuesday|
Except, of course, high school students are not stupid, and they can see very well that the vast majority of children's authors they encounter have another, 'main' job which is very likely to just so happen to be one of the following:
- school librarian
- university lecturer
- book seller
- kindergarten teacher
- some other teaching thing
- more library-related stuff
- special needs educator
- some education-related stuff to do with books
- some book-related thing that has something to do with education
etc. Some, to be fair, are editors, freelance editors, publicists, or journalists...
I'm exaggerating, of course, but the situation is indeed comical: at book fairs, 'we' writers mostly talk about our books and our... students. Put two writers together and they'll doubtlessly talk about their teaching.
So I like to rephrase that question. You don't need any degrees to be a writer, but most writers you meet are very likely to have very similar degrees and indeed quite similar professions.
And then we think about it together. Why might it be that writers are so attracted to teaching? Or is it that teachers become attracted to writing? Or are both correlated with something else? What might that be? Does doing literary studies help you become a better writer? Or do you do literary studies because you're already interested in all things literary? Are all teachers frustrated writers? Are all librarians frustrated writers? Are all writers frustrated librarians?
Is your teacher secretly a writer?
(All gazes turn to the teacher, who generally vehemently rejects the accusation.)
Turns out diplomas don't matter, but you can still sneak in a lot of interesting sociological reflection. Including, if you want to push it as far as that with a dynamic group, why those 'other jobs' that writers do are so often, well, extremely middle-class (it's particularly striking in the French children's literature landscape, I think, though the term 'middle-class' has no easy equivalent in French). Cue reflection on what the writer-teacher-librarian association might, well, teach us about the social and cultural politics of writing and publishing today.
Then the question is answered by more questions being raised.
So I feel like I've done my teaching duty, and put my degrees to good use.