Why Be A Teacher

Why did I want to be a teacher?

It certainly wasn’t because I love children. In fact, lets ge this straight, I can’t stand children (not unless I absolutely have to or they’re my cousin Charlotte). Now I define children as being from the age they first start screaming to the age that they can string out an intelligent conversation (so about twelve although eighteen in some cases and eight in really distrubingly precocious kids), not that they become adults then. In my somewhat staid opinion adult is something that happens when you realise that you make the decisions for yourself and to those who you have responsibilities to/ are responsible for…maybe that happens around thirty five or so…maybe at about sixteen. So I can’t stand children and I don’t like every adult I meet. What about these wierd in-betweenies?
Well, when they act like children I cant stand them, when they act like adults I get curious about who they’re imitating and when they act like themselves (which is mostly by imitating whoever they’re around, so other teenagers) I find them absolutly fascinating. Watching the progression from child into adult is absolutely fascinating and a lot less painful than doing it yourself. Well more remote pain at any rate.

So did I want to become a teacher out of some morbid fascination? No. What I really love and really believe in is art. In fact it’s the arts but I’m only specialised in one of ’em. I also believe in the importance of thinking, in the huge importance of thinking for yourself, of working things out on your own. And art helps you do that, it helped me more than any other subject to do that, if I’m correct it was rather art history more than art that did that but thats by the by. Now I am not as smart as many of my friends, much as I may claim the 2:2 was down to the parties but at least I can think. If I like cheese then thats because I like it not because some magazine told me to, if I think something I usually know why I think it, or at the very least that I should know why!

I wanted to become a teacher because I’m tired of meeting people who don’t think, or don’t want to or worse know that they don’t think and blame it on not being rich enough to go to the posh school or clever enough at eleven to go to the grammar school. I’m tired of meeting people who think art ‘isn’t for the likes of us’, or art isn’t for me because I didn’t like it in school. I want children to think, I want to show children a genuine love of art not some bearded man telling them what their opinions should be.
I want the world to be able to think, I want the world to understand what is happening around them, to be able to think I can do whatever I set out to do. I want to be this. I want to do this. And to be able to think that they can. I’d like some of them to find out about a style of art that they love too.

Why am I frustrated with teaching?
I have to enforce stupid rules that have no bearing on my art lessons.
I’m expected to enthuse classes of thirty two when my printer budget doesn’t run to having things that everyone can see.
My paperwork seems to be marked on quantity rather than quality.
My abilities with classroom discipline come to nothing with a lot of the children and there seems to be only some support from higher eschelons.
The school I’m working in currently thinks the art department can run with supplies of scotch mist
I have yet to meet a child above the age of 12 with high self esteem, I have yet to meet a child above the age of 13 with any self-esteem.
There is no back up at home from any but the absolute minimum of parents.
I keep discovering that artits that I thought were innocent could be thought to be morally objectionable and for, sometimes the flimsiest of reasons.
I have to lead prayers that I disagree with on religious grounds and make all the children (even noon-Christians) say them.
I’m not supposed to tell children what I actually think in PSHE or Citizenship but rather tow the party line.
Punishments aren’t supposed to fit the crime, it’s one size fits all.
I’m supposed to pretend not to understand when children swear at me in other languages but smile distantly and politely and ask them to ‘say it again in English’

9 thoughts on “Why Be A Teacher

  1. Eesh, sounds like your bosses think that teachers are just like shelf stackers, ie "shut up, do what we’ve told you to do and do it a lot."

  2. Hi,

    You write: "I keep discovering that artits that I thought were innocent could be thought to be morally objectionable and for, sometimes the flimsiest of reasons."

    I was just wondering which artists and for what reasons?

    All the best.

  3. Be very wary Mish – you’re judging the whole teaching profession on one crap school…

    I’ve met a lot of 12+ year old kids with very high self esteem who are supported by good teachers (and these are mostly from education action zones in financially poor schools) who have reignited my desire to become a teacher.

    I know you’re having something of a shit time in the school you’re in. But tarring all kids and schools with the same brush is a little judgemental. Just a quick thought there…

    And incidentally, I do know where you’re coming from. One term of teacher training in the Marches School in Oswerstry was enough to put my Dad off teaching for life, to the extent that he never bothered with his qualifying year of teaching.

  4. Francesca Woodman; photographer who I could’ve sworn wore more clothes.
    Constantin Brancusi; apparently somewhere in his collection of sculptures is a very styleised brass penis…it took me three days of hard searching to find this.
    Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres alas, his nudes are naked.
    Aimee Mullins is a model I can’t talk about during discussion of disabilty because she did nude modelling.
    Bare in mind I was looking at these artists for sixth formers not first years.

  5. with the exception of that ‘not going in for morals’ bit, I have to agree with the goat.

    It surprises me that you of all people should question the morals of a nude study.

    Is the statue of david less heroic because he’s got his morally questionable knob out?

  6. my appologies, I misread the bit about morality. Your comment with the links in made it seem like you agree with the hose-beast teachers. sorry.

  7. These artists are ‘morally objectionable’ because they enjoyed the human body?!

    That’s ludicrously absurd!

    Good job I don’t go in for this ‘morals’ lark really.

  8. Actually, that’s made me curious. Are you allowed to study artists who have painted scenes of battle and violence?
    If you are, why is that agreeable but the naked body isn’t?
    I’ve never understood that in this society, violence is ‘A-OK’ but sex is ‘immoral’.

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