Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Kudos, a small planet far, far away...

I've had a few emails recently asking why teaching doesn't have the kudos that other professions such as Accounting, Medicine or Law do.

At first I was puzzled, thinking that Kudos was the name of that new planet astronomers discovered a couple of years ago, but after a quick check in the dictionary I am now ready to try and answer.

Firstly it's because everyone knows how easy teaching is to get into. A couple of scraped A Level passes can get you onto a teaching degree and within 4 years you can be teaching a subject you know nothing about. Or if you did a degree and scraped a third, then no problem; just enroll on a one year PGCE course. (David Cameron permitting)

Many people go into teaching because they can't get into anything else, which obviously annoys those who had lots of options, but chose it above all the other possible careers.

The other reasons are; it's a job for life with virtually no chance of being sacked no matter how bad you are at it. Also, you aren't paid by how good you are at teaching, only by the number of years you have done it. (The only performance incentives are two salary threshold levels which are virtually automatic passes). It is therefore viewed as a career for those who are not particularly competitive. The poor conditions that many teachers work under, ie having to accept near constant levels of appalling behaviour and abuse from pupils also tend to work against us, encouraging the outsiders view of "Who on Earth would put up with that, unless they were desperate?"

Status is often judged by salary and teachers pay is lower than many other graduate professions (although the state contribution to our pensions make them worth far more than a private sector one and we shouldn't forget the 13 weeks holidays as opposed to 4). There is also the perception that teachers work far less hours and are always either off sick or taking time off for reasons which a business would clamp down on. Finally, you can dress like a scruff if you want to.

That's about it really. Frankly I couldn't care less about kudos- I just always made the most of the holidays and sent plenty of postcards to my accountant friends.

15 comments:

Mosher said...

I'm still a student teacher and I chose to do it as I worked with kids when I was abroad and realised that it's a hell of a lot more fun and rewarding (and hard work) than being an IT geek.

So onto the PGDE in Scotland, courtesy of my folks' being resident here.

Anyone who reckons it's an easy ride obviously doesn't know any teachers. The uni coursework is, frankly, a doddle. But the lesson prep and actual teaching is some of the hardest I've done in my entire working career.

I'm sure it'll get easier once I settle in and the years go on, but I'd defy any accountant to try it for a bit and realise how much effort any good teacher puts in. I've been lucky enough to work with a great bunch so far and certainly none of them are complaining about having too much money, too many holidays or too much free time.

Anonymous said...

When I taught, I found it one of the hardest, most grinding jobs I'vce ever done. Not the actual teaching....of course, that had its ups and downs, but the workload...the stupid, stupid mind-numbing meetings, stupefying inset days, the endless red tape. I never worked less than 12 hours on any day, plyus often had no break (you get caught to covr for someone, or do a hated duty"....glad I'm out of it. anyone thinking teachers have it easy...try and do it for a week. Then you'll see just how "easy" it is.
In no othr profession are you obliged to have moron chavs and scum come up to you and call you insulting names without them suffering any consequences. Nowhere else have I ever felt so unsupported by management. And I don't have a bottom degree, I also had quite a few years working in induestry befor I went for teaching. NEVER again., Out of all jobs I held, and there were a handful, teaching was by far the most frustrating and exhausting.

Fran Hill @ Being Miss said...

My school doesn't have the discipline problem some do, but the marking load is incredibly stressful. Even now, I'm here reading blogs at 8 o'clock in the evening and feeling bad about the marking pile downstairs. Guilt is more or less a constant feeling, no matter what kind of school you're in!

MarkUK said...

Hmm...

Teachers are not the only people who are "obliged to have moron chavs and scum come up to you and call you insulting names without them suffering any consequences"

What about school support staff? We still come into contact with the little darlings but we have no sanctions - and the kids know it.

With the exception of the PGCE, many of us are as qualified as the teachers we support but some of them treat us as a lower life-form. My degree, chaps, is a First, in a science subject. I am a corporate member of two professional bodies, and am seeking membership of a third.

Although I'm now paid more than I was in R&D in industry (with more responsibility though), I'm on less than an experienced classroom teacher with no extra responsibilities.

I get four weeks holiday, less than I had in industry. I also have to cram 7 days work into five.

Why am I working in a school? Well, the jobs in industry are getting rare so I thought I'd transport my skills into another environment.

Anonymous said...

I've lived with two teachers, and they've both grudgingly admitted that one of the reasons teachers don't get treated like professionals is that, as a body, they do not behave like professionals.

We all know examples of good, professional teachers, but they are an exception. Furthermore, we all know examples of UNprofessional teachers who persist in their incompetence without any worry of consequence. This is true of no other profession. It seems pretty much the only thing you can do to get "struck off" as a teacher is have sex with a pupil.

Furthermore, the way teachers interact with the world outside puts them in the same category as miners or airport baggage handlers. They're bolshy, unionised and militant. Can anyone imagine the UK suffering a national strike of engineers? Doctors? Lawyers? Accountants? But national teaching strikes were a regular feature of my education. Going on strike, or even threatening to, simply isn't professional behaviour.

I wish I could suggest to my better half or to any other teacher how they could increase the respect their profession gets. All I can offer is: the best individual teachers are recognised, by pupils and parents. Maybe at the time, maybe only with hindsight. But being respected generally? As a "profession"? Not until you start behaving like one.

CaravanParkManager said...

If you are wondering where to spend your holidays......

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with Anon 10.42

Teachers started to lose the respect of the general public back in the 1970s when they stopped instructing and disciplining their pupils and started trying to be friends with them instead.

Anonymous said...

I'm a secondary teacher in a 'tough' school. I'm a good teacher, work hard and love the 'day job'. I'm respected by students, parents (except those who try to be friends rather than parents to their children... though, thinking about it, even they respect me - they just don't like me very much) and all staff until you get to management level.

I make life difficult for 'management' by expecting them to back me up when I'm not treated with respect by a student (they'd sooner I just put up and shut up). I question the vast pile of pointless crud they shovel on to the workload pile at every opportunity. I challenge their part in the gradual erosion of our rights and increasing burden of responsibility.

There are 'bad' teachers, not defending them; but the bigger problem, it seems to me, is the grinding down of the good ones.

Many feel the same but few speak out or make a stand - and it is stressful/tiring. But if we all did a Howard Beale (and meant it) we might have a bit more pride in ourselves and in our profession.

I wouldn't swap the holidays for kudos though...

Anonymous said...

My wife started work at 0730 this morning and arrived home at 1830. After eating the meal I cooked her which was reheated she has continued work. Last night she got to bed at 2200. Ok she is running a difficult school but the pressure is relentless. Teaching is not an easy ride.

MarkUK said...

Anon at 22.00

If your wife is running the school, she's not a teacher but a manager; a senior manager at that.

Many senior managers do those kind of hours, so why should an education manager be different?

At the school where I was working last summer (and still am) the most senior managers came in for a week or two, but on reduced hours, during the 6-week break.

How did I know? Well, I'm support staff and only get the legal minimum holidays.

Metcountymounty said...

All teachers are cunts

Anonymous said...

Ahh, well done Metcountymounty, you managed to put four words in a row.

Did your mummy teach you that word?

Brian, follower of Deornoth said...

Tsk tsk, Anonymous at 14:05. Clearly MetCountyMounty has a Valid Viewpoint, just as Valid as yours, nay, clearly more so as he obviously has Anger Management Issues, and is probably a Special Needs Individual from a Deprived Background, and your Judgemental Remarks could clearly have an Adverse Effect and you are Belittling him and therefore a Racist and in need of Re-Education.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry about @22.00. It's Jimmy Smith from my 9A3. I forgot my 'friendly' green pen and had to mark his essay in red.

Dr Rick said...

MarkUK - so why not train to teach?