Responsible

People don’t tend to come into teaching for the money. At a pinch, they might come into it for the holidays, but mostly they have higher motives. They want to make a difference for the children in their care, inspire children to love all the subjects, and change the world a bit at the same time, if they can. They want to help children make more of their lives, support families in bringing up their children, and create a love of learning that lasts a lifetime. When I think of the teachers I know, they mostly do it with their hearts rather than for their wallets. Otherwise they would probably give up and go do something easier, particularly in the climate that exists in education at the moment. Unfortunately, one side effect of this desire to make a difference is that other people can get away with making you do things that you shouldn’t really do. You are so keen and willing to do good that you end being leaned on much too hard and taking on far too much. You end up forgetting that it is not your job to change the world; that this is what we vote in governments for.

Here’s a partial list of all the things that schools are now being asked to achieve.

* Exam results
* Social mobility
* Mental health
* Well being
* Child protection
* SEND
* Behaviour
* Physical health
* All above average
* Identifying radicalisation
* Eating healthily
* Cleaning teeth properly
* School readiness
* Careers
* Employment
* Limiting the use of exclamation marks
* Correctly sloping commas
* Memorising quotes
* Learning about sex and drugs (but not rock ‘n’ roll)

Most of these things are completely admirable goals, and achieving these things is the reason why many people come into teaching. But I think we need to be asking ourselves whether government is actually playing its part, or whether they have stopped thinking they have to. And if they have stopped thinking they have to, whether that is because when they handed the buck over to us, we held out our hands and accepted it. We are at a point where teachers are being held responsible for pretty much everything that happens in society. The government is saying ‘teachers can do this’ and I reckon teachers need to start saying: “Some of this is as much your job, as it is mine.” Because if we don’t, it won’t be long before we are held responsible for all the things on planet Earth. And that includes Trump, Brexit and Climate Change as well.

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2 Responses to Responsible

  1. Pat Stone says:

    Well said, as always.
    I suppose what should also be on the list is:
    -teaching young people to know or think about what their governments should be responsible for.
    We’ll never see that on any government-prescribed curriculum. I think all students should learn basic civics, politics and economics.

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  2. Well said. Education should and teachers want to make a difference but education and teachers are part to the answer, not the total solution. Other agencies,starting with government must also play their part. Unfortunately the expectation is that schools and teachers pick up the balls that others are forced to drop because of pressures in their own services. It is only because of the dedication of the teaching profession and wider education team and their determination to make a differece that pupils continue to succeed. However, the system is not able to sustain this while the funding and recruitment and retention crisis continues amid a culture of constant change.

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