Let’s hear it for the teachers
I will lay bets that everyone who reads this blog will be able to bring to mind at least one teacher who really inspired them, and another who made them wish they could disappear into a hole in the classroom floor so they did not have to spend another minute in that tortuous environment. Mr Yeoman belongs in the first category, Miss Jolowicz definitely in the second. I mean, expecting me to subscribe to her favourite journal ‘Physics is Fun’? Just who did she think I was?
Then there are the poor creatures whose lives we nasty teenagers managed to make a misery. Poor Miss Wheeler who had the misfortune to try and teach us music. Outside the classroom we were all listening to music and buying and swapping records, just not the classical stuff Miss W had in mind. I remember noisily writing notes and chucking them around the classroom, chatting and happily passing the time until the bell rang and we could race out the door without a backward glance. It wasn’t exactly St. Trinian’s but there was a slight resemblance.
Every teacher I know has been working their socks off since the pandemic caused the lockdown. One friend teaches English in an inner London girls’ comprehensive. She is exhausted, because everything has to be prepared in advanced, then taught online, and while she is teaching and for hours afterwards she has to be available for individual questions. In a classroom, if Susan queries something then there is a good chance that Samira might have been puzzling over the same problem, so one answer serves them both. Not so of course when in effect you are dealing with 30 individuals, each in their separate bubble.
My de facto daughter-in-law is a primary school teacher and rated outstanding by Ofsted. She works at an inner London school where some 70% of the children are eligible for free school meals and would be classified as underprivileged. She too has been teaching remotely, and safeguarding concerns early in the lockdown meant that shared activities via one of the online platforms could not take place. Some of the parents have criminal records and could not be allowed even to see some of the other children, taking the concept of a DBS check onto a whole new level.
At the other end of the academic spectrum, a friend of mine teaches post-grad at The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts, working with students in the traditional arts of the great civilizations of the world. Normally they would combine the theoretical with the creation of beautiful objects. Now he can only teach the theory and history with none of the practical application.
So let’s hear it for those teachers and all the ones I’ll never meet, and maybe reflect on some of the creative depictions we have seen of teachers. Perhaps Alan Bennett’s The History Boys comes to mind; maybe it’s Truffaut’s Les Quatre Cent Coups. Or what about The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie?
Teachers, we thank and applaud you, particularly during these difficult times.