The Greater Good

10 Jul

I was out walking Kobi today, and bumped into a fellow dog walker. After I had rugby-tackled Kobi away from the cows and clapped his lead back on said dog walker struck up conversation. He told me he had booked a boating holiday – on the River Lea, so I assume he will be canal boating – asked me about the local area and spoke briefly about dogs. However the conversation soon took on a more serious tone; somehow, we got onto the education cuts.

As an aspiring teacher, these matters are quite close to my heart. Gove is systematically installing an exclusive, privatised education system that puts extra pressure on teachers – already the most overworked and stressed professionals around – and, in my humble opinion, one that will be detrimental to the eduction of future generations. My strolling companion, however, did not see it.

He said, and I quote, “We are in a bit of a mess…” As if this justified the sweeping cuts that the government has made. I also had to explain to him that a teacher’s job did not finish at 3:20pm and that they in fact work more hours than the average white collar worker in a year, despite their summer holiday. I was reading a TES article only yesterday about suicide rates amongst teaching professionals. The statistics made pretty grim reading; according to the Office of National Statistics, the suicide rate was up 80% between 2008 and 2009. It has since fallen slightly, but our suicide rate in the UK is still 40% higher than anywhere else.

So what am I getting at? Well, it seems that many simply do not appreciate teaching as a profession. They see it simply as one long battle with unruly children and their parents, with no real reward or career options. The average person seems to have the impression that ‘those that can, do; those that can’t teach’. The TES published an article on this some time ago, I do believe, but only recently has it really hit home. My family seem to think next year will be easy-peasey (when I start my PGCE), and even my hubby thought initially that my six hours of contact time would continue from my undergraduate degree; next year will be a doss! Ha. He had quite a shock when I told him most days would be eight ’til six, and I would be burning the midnight oil most nights.

I don’t really need other people to understand how difficult my job is (or rather, will be). I know. And that is all that matters. The real problem for me is the wider implications of this attitude – the public, the government; they seem to think putting more pressure on teachers is all well and good, because, y’know, their job has to be one of the easiest in the world! And it will be teachers again that take the brunt when the quality of education begins to suffer.

At least I can begin to change the attitude of my family… hopefully, as soon as they see the amount of work I have to put in, they will no longer think I’m copping out of a real career for the sake of waffling about History all the time.

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