The title is taken from a comment on a post Luke Meddings has on his blog. Luke challenged us to analyse the images that are part of the national call to recruit teachers. It is a fairly controversial, well-packaged image of a power-dressed, skinny, bombshell against whose picture it is stated that one could teach classes that one’s students wouldn’t want to end. The “students” are faceless, shadowed entities with hands laid passively on the table – supremely disengaged, totally absent. The suggestion is that they are rapt and attentive, taking in everything she says. Well that’s the idea.
The same campaign has a slick, booted and suited, metro-sexual chap smiling in benign self -satisfaction as he surveys his domain: in control, dispensing largesse and master of all he surveys.
My heart aches. Where’s the teacher? Where’s that person who stands at the coalface; that engaging, inspiring, challenging, caring, dedicated, often exhausted, sometimes fearful, always willing, open-hearted, astute person we all think of when we say “teacher”? The person who puts the students first, the person who is there long after everyone has left, the person who lies awake at night hoping that the lesson they have prepared will mean something to the people they will face in the morning?
Teaching is not a means to an end: it is an end in itself. People who teach, don’t want to do anything else.
Call to the service those who can; call to the service those who will; call to the service those who know and understand what it means to teach. Power and money are sometimes irresistible motivators. Being at the front of a class with people watching you and drinking in everything you say is also a heady experience. But the real teacher sees beyond that; the real teacher is unmoved by the ephemeral; the real teacher is not seduced by status. Real teachers see only the student, they are driven only by what will move the student, they want only what will uplift the student.
I know I’m not the first, and I certainly won’t be the last to stand firm on this particular soapbox and shout out my indignation, my plea and my passion. I just wanted to add my voice to all those who have proclaimed loudly before me and all those who will proclaim after me. It seems to me an important thing …….