On Thursday, Mark Clarkson wrote a blog post that started off like this:
I seriously considered leaving education today. And if I had a viable exit strategy I might have taken it further.
Note the end of that sentence: a young, talented teacher with so much to offer the world feels like he has no ‘viable exit strategy’. There are thousands of teachers up and down the country feeling the same thing.
I should know. A few years ago I was one of them.
You should go and read Mark’s post. If you’re currently a classroom teacher you’ll be nodding your head at the bullet point after bullet point of bureaucratic, administrative nonsense he (and most other teachers) put up with. And if you’re not a teacher, you’ll be shocked.
On top of the ridiculous workload teachers like Mark experience each year, he notes that the benefits aren’t exactly stellar:
At the same time I am told that I will have to work for another 36 years. That I will receive less pension than I was promised… That tests are too easy. That my subject is not good enough. That I need to solve gaps in parenting. That I should receive performance related pay. That teachers are paid too much. That public sector workers in the north are paid too much. That teachers ‘cheat’ when the watchmen come. And today I’m told that ‘teachers don’t know what stress is‘.
I’ve been out of the classroom for just over two years now. And already my wife, a Primary school teacher, has to remind me what it’s like. I consider setting off together for work five minutes late a minor inconvenience. But for her, and many teachers, it can make or break their day. I’m fairly sure teachers know what stress is.
Although I would say this, I think we need a review of what we’re doing when it comes to schools. We can’t keep cannibalising the goodwill of people in an underpaid, overworked, increasingly-attacked profession. I think we need a public debate about the purpose(s) of education.
I’ll give the last word to Mark. He echoes something I used to say repeatedly – until I decided enough was enough:
I’m not leaving teaching today, because there are still too many moments that I enjoy.
TEACHING is a great activity. Teaching, at the minute, doesn’t always feel like a great job.
Image CC BY-NC paulbence