Teaching- something that, at the core of my being, I would love to do. Back when I was in Sixth Form, I used to be a bit of a Teaching Assistant to Polish kids. I’d sit with them in science classrooms that stank of rotten wood and try to translate the lesson while pushing them to answer questions and do their work. I’m not going to lie that I loved it, I really did. I did’t get paid for it, but it was a whole lot more fun than trying to do fifty maths exercises in an hour and then forget it all anyway.
Now that I’m doing a Creative Writing master’s course, I know very well that science and maths are not actually my biggest strength. I used to want to do astrophysics, but now I don’t even write much sci-fi anymore.
Since last year, I’ve been all over the place in terms of my career. I tried to get my hands on as much experience as I could at uni (and I highly advise that you do too if you’re still studying), and teaching is something that I decided I need to try at some point. This is because I’d love to be the teacher that I’ve never had; however, I can’t do it just yet, and here’s why.
Achievement based learning
I cannot stand this focus on achieving target grades, or making kids just pass exams. I know that this attitude is the reason why I can’t speak Spanish, although I did it for GCSE and apparently have a B grade in it.
In this sort of toxic, achievement driven environment, the kids that need the most help, don’t get it and are instead branded as having “behavioural problems” without anybody paying attention as to why. The kids that do better than average, on the other hand, either don’t get recognition or the right help to work on their level, even in when so called “sets” are present.
There is no focus on healthy relationships or mental health whatsoever, and I can see the effects of this in my own generation. We are constantly comparing ourselves through social media, but it all started in school. Nobody thought to tell us that black and white thinking isn’t okay, or that you can stand up to bullies. Instead, it was all about who’s doing better – the whole comparison game. (I will extend this topic some day, because it’s important.)
I know I’ll offend some people who are teachers by writing this, but honestly I think most of the people who are in teaching at the moment shouldn’t be doing it. They’re not passionate about it, and those who are passionate are often over-zealous and use too much motherese.
I dislike the “Get into teaching” campaign. I think it completely misses the point of teaching. Most people, like myself, don’t need to be enticed by free money to start their training. Let’s be honest here- it attracts the lowest common denominator that just wants another year at university for free, or the students that had no idea that you have to actually put in a lot of effort to get a graduate job. This may come off as harsh, but a lot of the time it’s true. It’s the easy way out and unfortunately for the kids, they’re the ones who end up with teachers who are uninterested and just “get the job done.”
Another problem I have is with there not being enough representation in schools. I know that women are more likely to become teachers, and I have no problem with that; however, I do insist that people’s standards for teachers should increase. What I mean by that is a more comprehensive testing in grammar and mathematics, as well as emotional and social health. That includes not taking people just on the basis of their passion, but on the basis of their knowledge and ability to deal with behavioral issues. I do think men should be encouraged to peruse a career in teaching if they are inclined towards it. It should be seen as something honorable rather than the way it is seen now, which can be “mumsy,” “easy” and what unimaginative people do.
Passion for the subject
The last thing that I find is a problem in teaching is the lack of time. I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks that teachers are over worked and don’t have the time to make improve themselves in order to then teach better.
I think every teacher should be passionate about their subject. This means that they have enough time to get involved in cultural activities in the area that they teach in. For example with me, doing English, I would love to stay in touch with the local arts and not just creative writing, but all of them. I’d want to get involved as a poetry performer and a speaker. I would want to attend lectures and seminars on improving my teaching practice as well as random philosophy seminars that would improve my sense of self and the world around me. I don’t want to teach unless I give 100% to the cause.
I realise I am only scraping the surface here and are doing so with quite an unrefined argument, but these are just some brief thoughts that I’ve had so far, which put me off of teaching.
My plan is to get as much experience as I can before considering being a teacher, although don’t mark my words because this isn’t necessarily set in stone. I would like to be able to have plenty of life experiences before passing any knowledge on to the new generation.