Teachers Doing it wrong

Last few months, I’ve been following a number of teachers on the Twitter, many of whom are concerned about the attacks on the profession, not the least of which is the systematic attempt to deprofessionalise it.

So it was on Olympic opening ceremony day that intellectual heavyweight Michael Gove announced that he would allow the National Babysitting Service (your local free school or academy) to recruit unqualified teachers. You think me cynical to suggest that babysitting is what we’re doing? They don’t care about the education of plebs. But there is a problem in this country with regard to affordable childcare, so that people can work the long hours demanded by the beancounters who cut jobs to cut costs and then need the remnant to pick up the slack.

But how to persuade the over stretched workforce to stay later when they insist on the human right to a family life?

First of all, attack that pesky Human Rights thing by making up nonsense about cats and immigrants. Then make the teachers work longer hours so they can look after the kids on the cheap.

Undermine the unions by bringing in untrained, ununionised workers to sit in classrooms and deliver courseware created by the private publishers. Then demonise teachers who “don’t work hard enough” or “go home at three”.

The history of human innovation is a history of laziness driving the development of better ways to do things. Laziness is a force for good. Teachers all over Twitter post updates about how much they work, how many hours per week, how late they stay. Which is playing into the hands of the beancounters. I’m a firm believer in “just enough to get by” and if it seems like hard work, I will always look for a shortcut or a better way to do it. The point is that for the beancounters, no amount of hard work is ever enough – if they think they can make you work 60 hours a week with no overtime pay, they’ll grab it with both hands.

My lesson planning software works on my mac and on my iPad, allows me to bump lessons, make fine adjustments on the fly, and even export/import a whole course for use another year. I whack out a week’s worth of lessons in an hour or so, and I spend the rest of the time building a library of electronic resources I can use again and again.

I have worked harder in the past, but it gets easier as time goes by. I don’t understand why anyone would need to work till eight every night unless (a) they’re very badly organised or (b) just starting out. If you’re still putting in 50-60 hour weeks several years in, you’re doing something wrong. You will never be thanked for it, you will burn out, and it still won’t be enough for the Tory bastards, because they hate you and everything you stand for. Work yourself to the bone, they won’t care. The occasional student will thank you for what you do, but don’t be fooled: you’re dead a long time.

I can’t help but think that a lot of this overworking is driven by a kind of egotistical desire to be well regarded, to be described as “inspiring”. Well, slaving over your books every night is not inspiring. Enjoying your job is. This guff about teaching as a “vocation” is the foundation myth of the “work overtime free of charge” racket, and the sickness of “presenteeism”, which sees people all over the country, in every industry, coming in early, staying late, and being visible, without actually being any more productive.

Exams will be sat. Goalposts will be moved. Shit will be written in the Daily Mail. Teachers need to treat teaching as something that you do for pay, a job you’ll be better at if you don’t work so hard at it.

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