Monday, 25 July 2011

Be a teacher…?

One of my favourite MA students called in today. She's doing a piece on teacher recruitment, and drew my attention to this series of Armstrong and Miller spoof adverts.

Now, I have a problem with A+M. They're funny gag-writers with good performance skills, but there's something disturbing about some very posh men writing rightwing, quite reactionary gags about young people and public servants. The famous WW2 RAF Men-speaking 21st-century youth slang  sketch is a case in point: beautifully written, uncannily good ear for language and delivery, but the underlying message is that today's kids lack honesty, decency, bravery, backbone and altruism. I doubt this is true. Without a war and conscription, we're unlikely to find out, though the grace and compassion displayed by Norwegian youths under fire this week rather demolishes Armstrong and Miller's thesis.

The same goes for these fake teaching ads. I'm a teacher, though at a university rather than schools. I did spend a couple of years doing supply teaching in terrifying secondary schools while doing my PhD, and I gained a health respect for most teachers. I did an English degree, so a PGCE was always a possibility, the classic fallback for most of my class.

I'd have been an idiot to go into teaching for want of anything better to do. They work harder than I do, and the demands on their time, patience and humour are immense. How are we ever going to value education properly if privately-educated toffs poke fun at those who dedicate themselves to teaching with little expectation of thanks, respect or riches?

Not that Armstrong and Miller are entirely wrong. I'm in education because a) I'm unemployable elsewhere, b) I have a short attention span, and most importantly c) I want to brainwash the young in pursuit of revolution. Obviously.

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