Kerst- en nieuwjaarsboodschap van Tom Bennett over leraarschap:
Its 'still' a wonderful job
(Ik twijfel of ik kleinkinderen nog zou aanraden om leerkracht te worden. Maar de getuigenis van Bennett doet me weer twijfelen.)
Teaching frequently made me unhappy, with its turbulence and drudgery and melodrama, but it fed a hunger that could be sated in no other way.
And it is a hard job. Too many teachers still steer with difficulty past the gnashing, clashing Scylla and Charybdises of difficult behaviour and the Sisyphean problem of workload. Policy churn, syllabuses that strobe past in succession, gimmick-learning, illiteracy
the list of bear traps and pitfalls to the perfect classroom can be summoned in an instant.
But it is still a wonderful job. There are few other roles where you can intersect so meaningfully with anothers life; where you can be a small but significant link in a chain that leads to the benefit of others. Where you can give them a gift that really does go on forever, that never runs out, never needs new batteries, and cant be returned: an education. To some children it can seem like finding a tangerine in their stocking, but its not: its stardust. Where else can you help children become adults, and students become scholars?
It isn't a job where you punch out at five o'clock; this is a vocation, like the priesthood or the circus. You have to love your subject, love working with kids, and love teaching them. If you don't, you won't ever be truly happy doing it. But if you do, then diamonds and rubies.
You might never transform every child's life, but that's not the benchmark of good teaching. You do your best, and you give them the best damn education you can. You provide them with safety, support, and discipline and tough love. You do your best. And mark this: your best will not always be enough and you will fail, and children will pass through your care and fall off the map, seemingly no better for having encountered you. But many of them will be helped, and some of them will be helped a lot. We play the odds. We play a long game.
As supporting characters in the melodramas of the lives of others, we are required to ask one simple question: do we want to help, or harm? Everything else follows from that. Like George Bailey after his illumination, I am grateful every day for the chance to play the smallest part in the lives of other humans. That, dear friends, is why
I feel like running down the High Street of Anytown, America, wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and laughing in the face of Mr Potter.
Come in, and know me better
Education gets in your blood; thats why you see so many families with three generations or more of teachers. Scientists in the future will probably discover a gene. Right now I think Im where the Universe needs me to be.
And the universe needs a lot more teachers far better than I to fill the gap and more besides. Recruitment is in a mess, and it wont get any better if the only message people hear is how difficult it is. I mean, it is, and these things need to be said. But these violent delights have violent ends. It has become dangerously fashionable to forget that, amongst the struggle and the strife in the classroom, it really, really is a wonderful job too.