Wednesday, January 27, 2010

They say hard work never killed anyone but...

Whenever two or more teachers gather together, the talk invariably revolves around how much work they do, how late into the night they stay up planning things and how they slave away at weekends and during the holidays as well.

This is all very good if you are managing a hedge fund and looking to retire to Barbados by the time you are 29, but not really worth it when your salary is less than £30k.

It won't surprise you to learn that I never did very much work at all, as I had a wide range of interests outside school to devote my evenings, weekends and holidays to. It may surprise you that the exam results my pupils got were around average for my department. This was partly because I knew about my subject, partly because I knew what was important to pass exams and partly because the department was rubbish.

Most of the work that teachers do is a complete waste of time. Ticking boxes, target setting, elaborate schemes to follow the latest fad, whether it is differentiated learning, group mind mapping or whatever. None of it inspires the kids or helps them get a job. Get yourself an interesting hobby instead.

Working too hard and getting stressed simply isn't worth the effects to your health (and it also makes you a thoroughly boring person). Overdoing it and taking two weeks off sick every year is no better for the pupils than my approach of doing very little but turning up every day.

It is an old adage that nobody ever says on their deathbed "I wish I'd spent more time in the office!" Take this to heart, write it on your classroom wall and make it your aim this week to ignore at least one supposedly vital task that has been set by those above you. Use the time saved to do something you enjoy and if you do get pulled up about it, just say that you were too busy doing (insert fashionable phrase or buzzword) and look a bit flustered. Next time, try and persuade a few others to do the same.

(Remember, the Martyr Ethos that is so prevalent in teaching nowadays just helps you die earlier)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Hey Pesto!

Does anybody else think that there could be a market for shorter spaghetti?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Kudos, a small planet far, far away...

I've had a few emails recently asking why teaching doesn't have the kudos that other professions such as Accounting, Medicine or Law do.

At first I was puzzled, thinking that Kudos was the name of that new planet astronomers discovered a couple of years ago, but after a quick check in the dictionary I am now ready to try and answer.

Firstly it's because everyone knows how easy teaching is to get into. A couple of scraped A Level passes can get you onto a teaching degree and within 4 years you can be teaching a subject you know nothing about. Or if you did a degree and scraped a third, then no problem; just enroll on a one year PGCE course. (David Cameron permitting)

Many people go into teaching because they can't get into anything else, which obviously annoys those who had lots of options, but chose it above all the other possible careers.

The other reasons are; it's a job for life with virtually no chance of being sacked no matter how bad you are at it. Also, you aren't paid by how good you are at teaching, only by the number of years you have done it. (The only performance incentives are two salary threshold levels which are virtually automatic passes). It is therefore viewed as a career for those who are not particularly competitive. The poor conditions that many teachers work under, ie having to accept near constant levels of appalling behaviour and abuse from pupils also tend to work against us, encouraging the outsiders view of "Who on Earth would put up with that, unless they were desperate?"

Status is often judged by salary and teachers pay is lower than many other graduate professions (although the state contribution to our pensions make them worth far more than a private sector one and we shouldn't forget the 13 weeks holidays as opposed to 4). There is also the perception that teachers work far less hours and are always either off sick or taking time off for reasons which a business would clamp down on. Finally, you can dress like a scruff if you want to.

That's about it really. Frankly I couldn't care less about kudos- I just always made the most of the holidays and sent plenty of postcards to my accountant friends.

The Third Way

So David Cameron has announced that he doesn't want duffers with a third class degree going on to be teachers. Carol Vorderman (who headed their Maths Task Force) might have something to say about that, but then there is a world of difference between a third in Engineering from Cambridge thirty years ago and a third awarded this year in Cultural Drama Studies from Happy Valley ex Poly. (I didn't think they even gave out Thirds nowadays, I assumed that everybody was given a First in case they got upset)

Teaching of course is very socialisty, so there will be queues forming up to declare that degree grade is no indication of teaching ability. Now they may well have a point- think back to your own schooldays and remember the bearded teacher wearing a battered brown jacket with leather elbow patches, who no doubt mumbled lots of very clever things; but nobody heard them because he couldn't control the class. On the other hand, there is a real problem now at many schools especially in Science; with teachers who don't know much about the subject that they are supposed to be teaching.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Snow and Guns

Good to see Clive Hale, Head of Polegate School in East Sussex turning the 'Why do they always close the school when there's an inch of snow?' argument around by rightly knocking the parents who don't bother to send their kids in even when school does stay open.

On an unrelated topic; just a quick reminder to all those of you who regularly carry automatic weapons, not to post the photographs on the school website. (Or if you do, at least hold your stomach in and don't slouch.)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Panic, panic, panic


Drop whatever you are doing, rush out and buy 5 loaves of bread immediately.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Run for your lives

As mass panic sets in across Britain, the traditional debates have begun in earnest:

Do Heads just close their schools for a laugh?

Are teachers just lazy shysters who should be flogged in the street because they can't be bothered to
go to work?

Why can't prisoners in chain gangs be made to clear the roads of snow with their bare hands whilst wearing a vest and shorts?

(Ok that last one was just my own idea)

Anyway this is a short post as I have to nip out to buy an axe.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010


I have sent Global Warming an ultimatum today. It has one more week to get its act together or it's out.

It is so cold that I have climbed into my oven to write this.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to one and all! As I write these words, I can see one of those new Government posters warning me of the dangers of Global Warming...

Those of you who started back on Monday with an Inset day will no doubt have tales of new initiatives breathlessly described by one of the more naive members of the 'Management Team' (now renamed the 'Leadership Team' to avoid having 'Man' in it.) The award for the first new 3 letter acronym of 2010 goes to 'JulieM' with 'T.E.D.' although she was unable to remember what it stood for.

As it is snowing in many parts of the country, it's also traditional for the lazy staff to turn up late, as this is much easier than getting up earlier and of course carries no penalty.

The last minute winner of my award for 'Maddest Act of 2009' is Highlands Council, Scotland who decided to ban an outdoor activities trip because one of the children is disabled. This will achieve the twin aims of making her the most unpopular child in the school, as well as getting everybody fed up with disabled people. In short, mindless form fillers triumph again.

Anyway, why are there so many disabled parking spaces right at the front of B+Q car parks?