The Blackboard Jungle

days spent beating back the seeds of doubt

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Nicked from a letter to a friend and ex-colleague, one of several who's this term given up a career in inner city teaching:

Do I miss teaching? Yes, of course. There were moral certainties involved in a job like that (which appeal to someone lazy like myself, because then I don't have to sit around and invent my own moral certainties). But all I have to do is think about either the workload, or the dull thudding frustration of being part of a system that was basically wasting kids, processing them into drug dealing, building, teen motherhood or petty thieving by the truckload, and paying a lot of gaseous lip service to the idea of opportunity, but never actually doing anything to change kid's life chances - it doesn't take much to remind yourself why you left, and why you should stay away.
How many musicians and poets did I teach? How many politicians or philosphoers? How many lower echelon bank tellers, ex-cons, and checkout operators?
Exactly. The stated aims, and the real aims of the british education system are constellations apart. The real aims? To shut people up, look busy, and get the current administration re-elected.
Everything else is a game. The kids aren't even the counters.

A year out of it is not long enough. Not by half. I met a teacher from Whitechapel in the Andaman islands, who temps three or four day s a week for six months of the year, then spends the rest of the year in Asia. It seemed the only acceptable approach if one no longer respects what the job stands for. Be cycnical, do it for cash.
She said that every morning in England was a flat choice: go to work, or sit in the park? It struck me that that sentence is always true. As it happens.