Why the Hell would anyone want to go into teaching?

PUBLISHED: 09:00 29 September 2018 | UPDATED: 16:41 29 September 2018

Steven Downes salutes the hard work teachers put in, but would never want to be one himself

Steven Downes salutes the hard work teachers put in, but would never want to be one himself

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I had a long period when I wanted to be a teacher.

Fortunately, the rules saved me from myself. For I don’t have a degree - and the law decrees that a 22-year-old with a degree and no experience of life is more qualified to teach than a degree-less 44-year-old who has raised four children and worked for 26 years.

Bitter, moi? Oui, un peu.

Thank goodness for a stupid rule, though - it stopped me from making a massive mistake and becoming a teacher.

I think I have the knowledge to impart, a wardrobe of clothes that are just the wrong side of cool, plus a passion for behaviour policies and uniform rules.

But I don’t have patience.

Pupils giving me lip would have it returned with interest. 
If I’d had to teach my teenage self (you can probably imagine what I was like, based on my columns: opinionated, know-all, bumptious, intolerant, punchable), I’d have put me in permanent detention, preferably at Guantanamo Bay.

The eye of my storm would settle somewhere else, though - over parents.

Friday’s EDP told a depressing tale of the online and on-street abuse hurled by parents at teachers and headteachers.

One head was called a Nazi and Hitler for enforcing a stricter uniform policy. Get some perspective, you empty-headed buffoons.

Hitler did like a well-presented uniform, but that wasn’t what made him history’s leading hate figure. If a headteacher suddenly annexes the Sudetenland, that’s the time to begin the comparisons.

Another was told he shouldn’t have children, and labelled a bully and a racist.

Barry Smith, head of Great Yarmouth Charter Academy, was depicted online as the Devil and accused on Facebook of taking photos of year 10 girls.

If Mr Smith sends naughty pupils to burn in the boiler room for eternity, speaks into their subconscious to tempt them to sin, or wears a red suit, beware. Otherwise, turn down the heat.

I have the deepest admiration for teachers, particularly for the patience they show when bullied and belittled by parents.

I’m ashamed to say that my response would be more visceral, including a short lesson in 
Anglo-Saxon vocabulary, followed by an anatomy lesson: “The thing I’m grabbing is your trachea; now I’m rabbit-punching your solar plexus; finally, I’m using my instep to kick your gluteus maximus out of my classroom.”

If you are one of those parents who, when a problem arises with your child, pours your pettiness out on Facebook, you are what is know in common parlance as an idiot, a coward and a bully.

For while you feel validated by the number of “likes” and “aw, hun - PM me”s, you are encouraging abuse against a professional human being who deserves respect.

Teachers have to deal with hundreds of children, and in the vast majority of times that they have to take action, they are right. It doesn’t matter that you think your little Barnaby is the sun around which the universe resolves: if he’s in trouble, he deserves it.

That should be the default response from parents: empowering and supporting teachers, not undermining them.

Who would be a teacher, though? And why would you do it?

I get that there is a sense of calling, and a feeling of immense satisfaction when a pupil suddenly “gets it” or an underachiever is inspired to give their all.

But I don’t get why you’d choose a career where snotty children and pushy parents jostle with Ofsted to make your life a misery. You’re either trying to hit arbitrary targets - or you have a target on your head.

If you are a teacher, or you are planning to become one, I salute you, and pray to St. John Baptist de la Salle, patron saint of teachers, that you may have the patience not to punch and parents in the face.

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