I am one of the first to argue against this! I went into teaching, as far as I’m concerned, for solid and worthwhile reasons – after all, I was 4 when I chose my vocation! I built on my reasons of choice from then onwards and I still maintain these despite not actually being in the classroom full time at the moment.
However, the older I get and the more “professionals” I speak to, the more true the Armstrong and Miller parodies are. Here is one of my favourite examples . . .
The problem is, too many people ‘fall’ into teaching. I understand that for under-graduates in particular, University doesn’t actually train you for much and if in your three years you still have no path to follow, teaching becomes almost a natural/convenient option. But, even some professionals that actively sought the career concern me with their belief system. I will never forget someone once telling me that you go into teaching simply to deliver lessons, not to be concerned about children. That is possibly so far from my own personal ethos it is untrue.
I think this added to my disillusion. I hear tales of people, thoroughly unsavoury, who now take care of some of the country’s youngest and most vulnerable children – including the only person I have ever refused to serve at our uni bar. This chap in particular had a rather aggressive nature, was permanently soused and had a habit of getting naked in public places. We also believe he may have been to blame for the breaking of the friend’s leg during a football game – all rumour but I wouldn’t be surprised. He now teaches primary education. Infants I believe.
It makes me slightly resentful. I become tarred with the same brush. I did not simply fall into the profession – I wanted to make a difference, I wanted to encourage children to learn and to feel safe in at least one environment of their young lives. I wanted to be excellent at what I do. So today, a smile spread wide across my face during a conversation with a student teacher.
This girl has the right idea. She inspired me. She grew up in a house that spoke no English at all. One parent was illiterate in English while the other was illiterate entirely. She never really knew the value of education, never tried and never saw why. Until she reached her teenage years. On her own she developed a sense of needing to achieve something and eventually qualified with a law degree. But she still felt lost, never really being directed. It was only when she thought of teaching that she felt a sense of belonging and inspiration. She understands why many children are disillusioned with education, why so many are below average because of a lack of learning in the home, why so many fall outside a teacher’s grasp – and don’t care. She wants to teach to re-dress this issue, to be there for our young generations and encourage them to strive for themselves – to show them that they are not alone, they can do it, can escape and actually love learning!
It is this attitude that many of my teaching friends, I am happy to say, have. It is this attitude that makes these people excellent teachers and make a difference to our young. It is a true skill. And I am envious that I have lost my way a little. I think I know now that one day I will be back in full time teaching, I will have that fire in the belly again. Just maybe not yet. Bad tastes still need to be washed from the mouth, but one day, they will be gone.
Just as a treat, another Armstrong and Miller . . . .