Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Warm up.

Here goes something. Here goes nothing.

This is designed to be an outlet for my views and frustrations, my hopes and intensely felt ambitions. The stuff that I reach a fever pitch of mania or hit the point of abject misery about. The things that really scare me.

This is really a warm up exercise. A mere flexing of the finger muscles in time to some music. A train of thought, a drive to nowhere in my mind.

Teaching is exhausting. Teaching in a system that seems to actively work against you is exhausting. Hitting your head against the in-built conservatism, the fearful learners, empty vessels, boats becalmed, waiting for you to breath wind in their sails and the saddened sighs of senior leaders who wish it could be different but keep turning the handle, grinding the sausage meat gristle and all.

Teaching is pure. Teaching is corrupt. Teaching is something you master and then realise is like sand through your fingers. It's about what you know works but you never know quite what day what works will work on.

Teaching is outdated but the best teachers always find a way. Always have done always will. It's rhythm and life and it's beige staid, endless hours spent mastering something you don't even know what it's for.

Teaching is outdated, it's a Victorian system in a digital world. It's a system which was built for the factories, which was built for the workhouse, built for masses of urchins in matching clothes not the post century of self individuals who by 13 are curating their own digital media stream like little moguls of self doubt.

Teaching is guessing what's in the exam board's head because that's not a waste of time is it? Teaching is virtually cutting and pasting someone's coursework together because no one can ever fail and no one ever learnt anything from failure. It's innovation with a gun to your head. It's being told your lesson you slaved over and worried about and lived twice and three times over at the cost to your sanity, your family and your physical health wasn't very good because "it lacked sparkle"

It's watching people ascend to management roles in an education institution (note the 'education' part of that statement) on the back of brain-fucking-gym and realising they really do think your brain has buttons. They really do.

It's the magic when the kid who got only got a D tells you that your lessons were life changing and after being quiet for two years speaks with an eloquence and dignity that makes your jaw drop and everyone in the class is quiet and the hairs go up on the back of your neck and you think 'I'll remember this forever.'

It's the fact the kid from another country came shyly to find you and ask you what the girls meant when they said something to him and he wasn't sure if they meant it or were taking the piss.

It's when you get so upset at the fact they think they are failing because you've just given them a B that you go home and cry in an impotent rage, you feel like you want to punch the wall over and over again until your knuckles bleed.

It's the cheeky kid who was really, really, really bright and lasted 3 weeks in your a-level class and you knew he'd gone to work because his mum was on at him about it while the nice neat middle class kids whine about not having enough extra lessons.

It's sitting in the staff room listening to moaning and whining and telling yourself that you'll never ever be that kind of teacher then waking up one day and finding yourself looking out of their eyes and sitting in the chair they sat in.

It's caring enough to check the book, keep your promises, organise the trip, run the club, always smile, always forgive, always be calm, always be there through sickness and misery and never letting on that you'd rather be anywhere else. It's caring enough to lie to yourself that you are really important, it's caring enough to find a reason to like the kids. All of them. Caring enough to not have favourites, caring enough to rewrite things and change the topic and change the exam board and do the new activity and spend the weekend or the evening doing all this stuff that you don't even know makes any difference and will probably be greeted by an indifferent shrug anyway.

It's not caring enough to have a breakdown, not caring enough to be the teacher who stands in front of the whole school and waves a stack of work that nearly killed them and shouts 'everyone do this!' It's not caring enough to think Ofsted can go for a running jump, it's not caring enough to bother about brand and marketing and career development, not caring enough to think you are Mother Teresa, Jesus and that woman who looks through people's shit all rolled into one package of self righteous zeal on a one man operated train ride to fix-the-world's ills through file organisation and seating plans.

It's part of the world yet it sometimes seems hermetically sealed.

It's really quite complicated, enormously complicated, thick books full of theory and psychology complicated and it's beautifully simple all in one.

It is probably better than digging holes. At least better than digging holes with a spade. Endlessly. In the rain. And for that, we should give thanks.


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