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Why would anyone want to be a teacher nowadays?

Discussion in 'Scotland - education news' started by airy, Aug 19, 2012.

  1. Has it not always been like that? People training assume we all understand the new system and don't know any different. Our students for the past two years have known sod all about SG or Intermediates despite the fact that we are still teaching it!
  2. I had another career before teaching, and other jobs in both the public and the private sectors. No-one is being treated well these days.

    I decided to become a teacher because I love it, I love being around children and the energy they have. I have never gained job satisfaction like I do from teaching, and my family comment on how much happier I am now.

    I don't know what you're asking when you say "What about bankers?"
  3. Si N. Tiffick

    Si N. Tiffick Occasional commenter

    What Mrs R said! I'd love to be a permanent teacher if only the naysayers and moaners would push off and let those of us desterate to get a foothold, in.
  4. catmother

    catmother Star commenter

    Perfect posting!
    Illustrate exactly why people still want to be teachers. They just know that they can do so much better than any of us old dinausors.
  5. theNavigator

    theNavigator New commenter

    Putting all this madness in perspective might be an idea. "This too shall pass." What us 'young 'uns' don't appreciate, and the 'old dinosaurs' sometimes forget, is that all this bureacratic nonsense and fearmongering, curriculum upheaval and lack of specific detail...has happened before and will happen again.
    I loved teaching in Scotland (I've just left, for family reasons, moving to NZ). Really loved it. The pupils have such a brilliant sense of humour, and in places an enthusiasm which is inspiring. Granted, dealing with teenagers can be an...interesting experience, but if you have a sense of humour too, that certainly helps! :) Mind you, I deliberately avoided teaching in cities or major towns, so maybe they're a little more civilized (or at least chilled out) on the edge.
    I too was desperately worried (and rather confused) about the specifics of the new curriculum. "Ummm, can I have an exemplar please? Plleeeeeeeeeeeeaaaassse?" However, I've come to realise that, we DO actaully know how to teach, so if we (each) just get on with teaching what we know works (plus teach them how to answer their way around various types of exam questions), then it'll all work out okay in the end.
    Oh, and the Scottish curriculum idea of determindly linking between subjects is a brilliant one. Here in NZ, whenever I mention it, teachers say in a slightly contemptuous tone, "Oh, you mean Integrated Learning. We did that years ago." But those connections make a pupils learning experience so much better!
    Please don't give up. You are wonderful talented teachers and you DO make a difference.
  6. This is very true navigator, however it does feel like we are being constantly undermined bullied and undervalued at the moment. It is undeniably difficult to remain motivated. I am on the verge of treating teaching as a 'job' like any other.
  7. You can see by responses so far that martyrdom is alive and well in Scottish schools among the teachers. The CfE is meant to help create 'responsible citizens'. How is this possible when the teachers themselves are quiet as mice when it comes to their own interests. The present situation is only bearable if you are in the martyrdom business which unfortunately too many of our teachers are. The mark of a citizen is/was the ability and right to speak. The martyrs among us are only too prepared to hide behind the defence ' We are here for the kids'. This response is only a way of avoiding using their critical faculties in order to avoid responsibilty. As teaching is now mainly a female profession, this affliction seems to affect a large number of young women teachers who want to get ahead. A quick look, however,at the teacher absentee figures or even people's own perception of their own schools will show that something is badly wrong. The health of many teachers is being and has been damaged by the present situation. The martyrs suffer in silence or wear it as a badge of pride to show their commitment to 'their' pupils. Teachers, probably quite rightly, are one of the most socialised groups in any society. What does it take to get them to speak out against all the things that threaten them and the educational system. More 'effective contributors' are required!!

  8. As alive and well as the Corporal Fraser: "We're all doomed... doomed I tell ye!" mindset.
    To return to your original question, why would anyone want to teach these days? One reason might be, and well articulated by many above, that teaching is still an immensly satisfying and rewarding job... it's not for everyone, but those of us who have 'enjoyed' careers in other professions, private and public sector, before we came to teaching, can often view the job with a perspective which some cannot... I don't know if you fall into this category or not dingerone?
    Anyway, from where I'm sitting, and with the perspective of some 20 years teaching experience (almost a dinosaur), my tea cup still looks more half full than half empty!
    Martyrdom awaits... Bring it on!
  9. Anyway, from where I'm sitting, and with the perspective of some 20 years teaching experience (almost a dinosaur), my tea cup still looks more half full than half empty! says Kurtz32.

    This is a good example of how people body swerve the points made and deny their own lived experience. Indeed ,teaching is a rewarding and fulfilling career DESPITE all the tosh that teachers are enduring at the moment. Kurtz32's response is good example of the complacency of many who have private views but do not air them where and when it counts. If teachers want their task to remain fulfilling and rewarding they must shake off this air of complacency that their particular glass is half full. If we do not we will be really 'doomed'.
  10. No, fraid not dingerone, I'm not denying my life experience... you're the one trying to do that. I'm merely not agreeing with you. Sorry if that doesn't sit comfortably with your own personal views.
    Wrong again... I think you'll find I just have expressed my 'private' views on this public forum. Isn't it a bit presumptious of you to assume I've never voiced my opinion? Surely the evidence of me engaging with you suggests otherwise?
    It is possible that my experiences differ from yours... Take a deep breath and relax.

  11. ... and the OP goes on to list a lot of the keech that so depresses all of us today. While I read the list, I happened to notice an ad on my sidebar, which brought to my attention the existence of a fabby team which would address all of the issues that make teaching so tedious, vanish the paperwork, wish away the CfE twaddle and empower us all to make the job exactly what we thought it would be when we signed up. They're called the EIS. They style themselves "Scotland's largest and most effective teachers' union."
    Talk to the next supply teacher you meet. See if s/he agrees.
    Read the CfE. See if you agree.
    Talk to nursery colleagues in a nursery with no teachers. See if they agree.
    The EIS ad just reminded me - we really do need Scotland's biggest most effective teachers' union. It's not the EIS. It's you. It's all of us. If you really hate your job as much as some of you do - get involved. Make it better. How?
    Learn a new word. That word is "no."
    Join with others - remember collegiality? - if you don't like the way it is, change the way it is. You did not ask for 5-14, nor did you line up and demand the CfE. You wonder who's in charge...
    If you act together, you are. If you don't, see miners and Mrs Thatcher for your future prospects.
  12. theNavigator

    theNavigator New commenter

    I still say (and I'm on to my 5th curriculum and 3rd country here) that the best defence against all the bureacratic gumph is to smile, nod and get on with your own thing. Pay a little lipservice to their requirments, make sure the kids are prepared for whatever the blighters throw at them, and ignore the rest.
    YOU ARE TALENTED PROFESSIONALS and although the kids range from lovely to psychos-r-us, it can still be worth doing this job.
    But if you dread the prospect of hauling yourself into school in the morning (or Sunday evening), do yourself a favour and work out a better option, then leave and pursue it (or stay for a while, whilst doing a course/degree to get ready for the off). Otherwise, why bother being alive, if your existence is consumed with stress? We all have choices.
    Once again I say: teachers in Scotland are GOOD. But you have to work together (as previous poster rightly pointed out), and the EIS always seemed to me to be a bit useless. You are more than that union, you are more than just drones. You have more power than you think, but if you just sit back and let the others pretend to fight for you, you'll end up like the English. Wow, depressing thought. :(
    PS. Sam Vimes - awesome choice of pseudonym dude. Mine would be Tiffany (skillet ready to do battle, nac mac feegles at my feet).
  13. This is what most teachers, if they are sensible, do in order to survive the frazzle which surrounds teaching nowadays. However, I am sure you will agree, it is basically dishonest postion to take. It isolates teachers from one another and creates a conspiracy of silence over what is going on which effectively undermines the profession and education. We all know that transparency and accountability is only for the little guy or gal. Such a situation is unhealthy in a number of ways and leads to disatisfaction among those teachers committted to their profession.
    It is a bit like the situation in Eastern Europe under communism. You want nails? One million? You got it! Oh, we will not say anything about the quality. In advanced countries, any further improvement calls for a high level of cooperation among people. This is especially true in education. Such cooperation cannot be ordered, administered or managed into existence. It certainly will not come about given the external and internal factors in education which hinder such cooperation. Anything that demotivates the teaching force needs to be addressed and neutralised. For this to happen, it requires that teachers speak out and up to defend their positions. This requires some courage from people who are meant to be intelligent and educated.Few teachers can be happy with the present situation.
    See Opinion:Herald Classrooms in crisis posted by Cochrane 1964
  14. kibosh

    kibosh Star commenter

    Most of us are 'sensible', so that's what we do to survive. The rest of your post appears to be detailing many (valid, imo) reasons for not being so 'sensible', for revolting. You have highlighted an existing conflict (for many of us, though not all of us) between the 'necessary survival' and the 'idealistic desirable'. How do we forge a bridge between the two when most are happy with 'necessary survival'?
  15. cobalt54

    cobalt54 New commenter

    Most of what you have said is very true, and will therefore be seen as a threat by the majority of the teaching profession. I taught in Scotland for 25 years before leaving to teach in international schools, but I suspect not very much has changed.
    There are many good teachers in Scotland who are questioning and suspicious of orthodoxy: they are naturally sidelined. You can find them in the staffroom in the corners usually doing some marking. They are never voted most popular teacher in the school and they do not give high fives in the corridor, but they are always respected. They do not need the approval of their students in order to educate them. If you ask them for advice they will normally be happy to give it, with a sense of humility. They are your cadre.
    The rest are a collection of windbags, careerists and inadequates who have latched on to teaching as a way to validate their unexamined lives. Their thirst for orthodoxy is boundless, and is liable to confuse you, bacause tomorrow a new orthodoxy will be born. They are always on message, always singing with the choir. They are Eliot's hollow men, and increasingly now, women.
    Their language is something of a giveaway, so if you want to avoid them then avoid some of these platitudes:
    I CAME INTO TEACHING TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE. (The most laughable cliche of all; they came into teaching to keep things exactly as they are right now, and will metaphorically cut your throat if you try to do any different.)
    TEACHING IS A REWARDING PROFESSION (Not in financial terms it isn,t so this cliche is very useful at making you feel guilty for having no money in your bank account at the end of the month. Your real reward is working with young people and if you dont appreciate that then you should not be in a classroom. When you have to beg for a loan to buy a second har car you should be grateful)
    TEACHING IS A CUSHY LIFE COMPARED WITH THE PRIVATE SECTOR. (Complete and utter ********, usually uttered by those who have never worked in the private sector for more than two weeks. If the private sector took over education then it would probably decimate 90% of the promoted posts in schools. [Sorry, my Latin is a bit faulty; I should have said obliterate.]
    I LIKE BEING SURROUNDED BY YOUNG PEOPLE AND THEIR ENERGY (Usually uttered by the youngest fogey in the staffroom! In which case, as dingerone has suggested, why is none of this energy being used to confront the dead hand of stale, moth eaten conformity that now passes for educational theory? Why does every Head Teacher in Scotland use the same lexicon as that determined by the SED and the Inspectorate?
    TEACHERS ARE THE LEGISLATORS OF TOMORROW. (In which case God help us. To educate a questioning, sceptical citizenry is the basic requirement of a democracy. A cohort of nervous conformists is never going to get anywhere near that requirement, which is good news for the government. In relative terms the salary and conditions of teachers have been eroded since the 1970s in order to make this possible.)
    Teaching is still a good enough job. I started doing it in the 1970s and I am still in the classroom come next week. The colleagues who called me cynical and said they loved the kids so much more than me.... they have all retired early. How they can survive without that mutual love I do not know, but they can. Many of the 'initiatives' they launched during their careers have since been stuffed into the waste bin of educational history, but so what? It helped them step up the career ladder. The fact it helped not one student they ever taught will hardly be on their conscience, as their final pension salary will be their vindication.
    So dingerone, be who you are. Be true to yourself and the students you teach because they are in a way precious. And never allow the scoundrels who claim to speak for your students ever sway you against your basic instincts of what is best for your students.
    Good luck. I wish you well.
  16. theNavigator

    theNavigator New commenter

    Ooookaaay. I put on a couple of posts trying to be positive about teaching and about teachers in Scotland, and being ripped down is the response I get. Thanks guys, real nice.
    I wasn't advocating an isolationist stance/situation at all, otherwise I wouldn't have said how fantastic the idea of linking subjects could be.
    Sigh. What's the point then, if this is the way you treat another professional. I miss Scotland, and my lovely last school, but this...
  17. theNavigator

    theNavigator New commenter

    Hmmm, interesting post cobalt54.

    I have to admit that one of the things that freaked me out about the new curriculum was how vague and waffly it seemed to turning out to be. It could have been really interesting and rigorous, but with a lack of financial commitment and the usual bureaucratic creeping wimpyness...

    I know that my positivity however stems from (after an entertaining teacher training experience in Glasgow) having worked in some very supportive well-run (state) schools. I choose my places of employment carefully, and have no problem moving vast distances (and sometimes way out on the edge) to start something new. However, I am well aware that many people don't feel they have that luxury. I have huge respect for people who teach in challenging environments, who choose to do it and who excel at it. I also have respect for those who say, "b*gger this, I'm off."

    I also teach a subject which allows me to be more than a little subversive, following the George Carlin advice: "Don't just teach your children to read...teach them to question what they read, teach them to question everything." ;)
  18. This forum is beginning to be a little like the Olympics and its aftermath. Once the flag waving is over, reality sets in. Even the language is similar. Everything must be seen in a positive light. No room for negativity or reality. Everything must be world beating, engaging, new, inspiring and effort and commitment must be 110%. (Where did the Chancellor go to school? )

    Our education system is paralyzed by fear and characterized by distractions. Combined it makes it possible to avoid the real questions and problems which demand real answers and real solutions.

    The original question was 'Why would anyone want to be a teacher nowadays?' Have we got a reasonable answer to this question yet?

    Teaching is essentially a one tier occupation. The superstructure is pressing down on the workforce and is making it difficult for teachers to carry out their tasks. Teachers need to 'take ownership' of their own destiny; 'engage' with the forces of darkness which makes teaching life difficult; become 'responsible citizens' and speak out against the tosh; become 'effective contributors' in the debate about education and where it is going; become 'successful learners' on where best to apply their power and influence at all levels ; and be 'confident individuals' who are aware of and cherish their own and their colleagues' knowledge and skills in the face of ignorance from any quarter.

    This will be no easy task given the tradition of supine acceptance of the unacceptable in recent times. Teachers have a special responsibility, to those who have just joined or will become teachers in the future. Just another 40 -50 years to go! If we sell the pass now, the teaching profession will become a set of knowledge transfer clones who could be replaced by machines.

    One should be clear, however, that any betterment or improvement will only come about through a struggle. Being a highly socialised group many will find this difficult. However, as Gandhi said 'First, they will ignore you, then they will ridicule you, then they will fight you and then you win!' From your own experience, you know how widespread this approach is in everyday life. In fact, look at this forum!! Most cave in at the ridicule stage. Serious and effective people with a just and serious cause do not cave in so easily.

    As a group, teachers need to value and trust their knowledge and skills. Teachers and pupils/students are not equal. Educational success comes through the struggle of the learner to become something they are not yet. It cannot come through passing exams or through teachers although both can have an important influence on the outcome. There is too much irrelevant burdens on teachers and not enough societal pressure on learners. Learning is a tough old business, does not take place in a neat straight line and requires real and consistent effort on the part of the learner. Anything that distracts from this is a waste of time and resources.

    Why would anyone want to be a teacher nowadays?
  19. cobalt54

    cobalt54 New commenter

    Good post Kurtz,
    Although I dont agree with your ultimatums regarding imperialism as outlined by Conrad.
    To say you cant be bothered to deal with what dingerone posted smacks of laziness at best. And I always try to avoid personalising arguments on the dictum of argumentum ad hominem, but you did start the process in your original reply.
    If you dont like the job then get another one. Sounds like commonsense, sounds like gritty realism and is used by those in power when under pressure. In fact there is absolutely no reason why any worker should accept such a lamentable piece of advice. It is the last refuge of the embattled boss. If we had done this in the past, then we would still be working in conditions we would consider today archaic. For example when I started teaching women were forbidden to wear trousers to school and students were belted for not having the top button their shirt buttoned properly. A female teacher living with her boyfriend was told her contract would not be renewed unless she married him or married him or moved out of his flat. When I was part of a group of teachers who objected to this state of affairs, we were told, guess what? If you dont like the job then get another one. Or at least words to that effect. Not much has changed in the last 35 years. You are a boss Kurtz, or at least a company man/girl and the language has nor changed in my lifetime.
    In an earlier post I recommended to dingerone that he should be true to himself and true to his pupils; that when he received an edict he considered detrimental to either himself or his pupils he should follow his conscience. That, in my view, is the piece of advice that has most disconcerted you. That is why you pleaded with any readers to ignore it. For within that advice lies the possibility for true and authentic education to take place in Scotland. Not diktat from the SED. Not PC mantras direct from government, but real education. Real education from a teaching force which acknowledges nothing higher than the right of pupils to be exposed to the best knowledge that we, as a species, have so far managed to collect. And to convey this in a manner that engages both yourself and the pupil. If you can do this then the exam marks will look after themselves. And the long term benefit to the country will be immeasurable.
    There is an alternative of course. The system can carry on as before, with its top-down managerialism and a sop of promoted posts to entice the gulible, the opportunistic or the financially constrained. Back in 1987 Mr Munn, part of a committee to examine teachers' pay, came up with the following observation which might be termed as belonging to the Chicago School of Economics.He said that if you set the highest pay rates at a good enough level, then plenty (opportunists? dreamers? carpet baggers?) would flock into the profession. In other words he was sacrificing the importance of job satisfaction, day to day working conditions, long term sense of identity, human engagement with pupils on the altar of cash inducement. His words were taken on board. When I began teaching in Scotland the headteacher made 2x my salary; when I left 25 years later he was making almost 3x. Real progress.
    Fortunately Mr Munn, whose daughter was but temporarily a teacher herself, was proved wrong. Plenty people come into teaching with better motivation that that, and I have been happy to work alongside them. And my advice remains the same: be true to yourself and the students that you teach . Anything else is surrender. Many of them eventually surrender to some degree, but I am an eternal optimist and but a second rate cynic: the real cycnics are to be found higher up the food chain. They believe in nothing other than self -advancement, avoid class contact at all times, rail against awkward underlings and retire as soon as their bank book allows. They shout down well disposed pupils who have committed a minor abberations but walk on by when a hard boiled school refuser with a violent parent is breaking most of the school rules available. They are never done trying to recruit to their glee club sponsored by Perma-Grin and, when asked by a perplexed staff what the hell they are doing within 100 miles of a school since every one of their actions undermines both academic achievement and staff morale, usually reply: 'I came into teaching to make a difference- and I love the kids'. They normally spend their last year of teaching on a sick line.
    Now, this of course may be coincidence, but they do sound a bit like Kurtz

  20. But I can - it's the EIS (aka its membership) that must take the blame.
    I heard a Head Teacher tell her staff recently that "we have to teach the children to learn about learning to talk about their learning." Everybody nodded, and said nothing.
    How's "My Learning Journey" working out for your staff? One colleague who suggested that it might be a good idea to teach the children to write first, so they could fill it in, was received with icy silence. (His colleagues, no doubt, would do with "MLJ" just what they did with the P7 "My Personal Profile", ie do it for them.)
    How's your 35 hour working week coming along?
    OK - just a couple of moans - but whose job is it to stand up and say "stop?"
    Check in a mirror.


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