Tuesday, 24 November 2009

And now for something completely unexpected...

Short on stature as I am, and inspiration as well of late...I have sort it where any modern denizen of the internet would...on facebook.
Among all the many, varied, and at times disturbing suggestions for things I could lend my obsessive eye to, the one I found most oddly compelling was the request for finding out why I decided to teach.
I could tell the rather sad tale of awaking with a pounding headache in a pleasant enough council flat in East London and realising that at 25 I still hadn't done anything with my life - except perhaps drink a prodigious amount of real ale.
And it would be a sad but true story.
I could talk about the fact that after seven years at University I was still completely unemployable and the only thing I'd ever done that I was good at (other than be a straight A student despite appearances)was convincing other people they could pass their exams.
Appearances are a funny thing. I slept through the most academically rigourous course in the final year of my BA. I know this because all of my notes trail off after two lines and because the lecturer told me. He also told me about his vasectomy, so perhaps he was not the most objective source of information.
I had become good at sleeping in lectures. In my first year the lovely primatologist used to stop and ask for the person next to me to shake me because my snoring was disturbing peoples learning.
But you have to sleep sometime and lectures seemed a nice quiet place for that to happen.
I could point out that for the first couple of years I was teaching and definitely through that first year of training people didn't laugh when I said I was a teacher, they looked aghast and hunted about for who they could call to complain about falling standards.
I didn't like teaching when I started. It was hard work. I had to get up early. People in the staffroom didn't like it when I suggested in a most colloquial of fashions that some time spent getting sexually acquainted with themselves would indeed be well-spent.
My first HOD tried to get me fired. If I remember correctly he had been a fairly regular receipient of my advice...My second HOD also tried for to get me fired. My third HOD broke down in tears and couldn't deliver his farewell speech...so I guess things got better over time.
15 years later I get up early and go to school. Earlier than I ever did when I was attending as a student and had to be physically removed from my bed.
I could wax lyrical about the teaching profession and its value. But it would be platitudes. And perhaps not even something I believe. I work with good people, who do a good job and I'm no gooder than any of them.
I watched another class graduate tonight. And although there weren't as many tears as when I read Euripides, there may have been a moment of watery eyes.
Its not why I decided to teach that's important. Its why I keep doing it that's the real story.


  1. Ideas are important.The modern technocratic, neo-liberal world we live in is averse to them, and to long range historical perspectives. And I think many of the people I teach with are very clever and funny.
    That;s all I can come up with on a Friday night.

  2. Was the real ale as good last night as it wass all those years ago... Apologies for not making it, Emma's (god-daughter's) 21st kept us out a bit longer than planned otherwise I would have been there. Your ruminations above I msut say have started sdome ruminations for my own!