Grumble in the (Blackboard) Jungle

I spent today at a different school, on a course with a load of other teachers. It was a pretty good day actually – one of those nice practical courses that give you loads of good ideas. I like it when that happens. Of course I don’t normally spend a whole day with a load of teachers, most of my time is spent working with students, so the chance for a spot of people-watching presented itself.

By lunchtime I had noticed two distinct groups. One group was made up of people who were pretty positive about teaching, many (but not all) of whom had gone into teaching as a second career.

“I like the fact that no two days are the same,” said one of the guys. He’s absolutely right – one of the best things about teaching is that it is a really interesting job. I have good days and bad days. I have great lessons, average lessons and sometimes, frankly, awful lessons. I have fun times, laughter and frustration. But I don’t get bored. The only really boring bit was invigilating exams, and I almost never do that anymore – hurrah!

The second group was made up of some rather less cheery chaps. A spot of moaning occurred. In fact quite a bit of moaning occurred. They reminded me of a comment made by a friend a couple of weeks ago, who remarked that teachers do moan a lot. Actually I don’t think that this is true of teachers in general, but I think it is probably true of those who make up the public face of my profession: the teachers who appear at union conferences and get on the news; the ones who are overworked and underpaid; the ones that think that teaching is a terrible job. You’d think if it was that bad they would leave and do something else.

(Just to be clear, I’m not saying that the colleagues I met today were the Olympic standard whingers that get on TV, because they weren’t. They simply set me off on this train of thought.)

Now I’m not saying I never moan, I can have a right old whinge with the best of them – in fact I seem to be doing that right now – but… the big question is, why do the many cheerful and positive members of my profession remain largely hidden, whilst the grumpy old men (and women) get the limelight? Or does that happen everywhere, not just in education?

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