Once upon a time, in a meeting long, long ago, when I dared to suggest a strategic change based on what ‘OFSTED want to see’, a colleague kindly reminded me of the following: “It doesn’t matter what OFSTED want- it’s what best helps the child that matters.”
Now, of course, what this colleague actually meant was, “I only think about the good of the children whereas you are clearly only concerned with trivial matters such as performing to government standards, and because of this, I’m going to have to remind you, in front of everybody in this room, of where your priorities should truly lie. You are the devil and I am a saint.”
Needless to say, I was fuming. Reminded, once again, that ours is a profession dominated by sanctimonious, holier-than-thou, isn’t-everything-so-Enid-Blytony, do gooders, determined to make the rest of us- the actual humans- look like a bunch of tossers who couldn’t care less about darling little Johnny and the rest of his pubescent cronies.
These do-gooders are those who go on about educating ‘the whole child’ as opposed to the rest of us who presumably only care about the elbow bit of the child. Or the bit between the nose and the upper lip that everyone says is called the septum, but doubtfully so, worrying that they might have got this mixed up with the perineum.
These do-gooders are those who bang on about Pastoral this and Pastoral that, looking upon any teacher who shows the faintest interest in academic achievement as a Gradgrindian monster whose sole purpose in life is to enforce suffering and subjugation.
These do-gooders are the ones in at 7am until 7pm just to tell people that they were in at 7am till 7.30pm.
They’re the teachers who rail against those who sell resources for money on TES, exclaiming ‘education should be free for all!’ without considering that actually, you know, some of us are bloody poor and could do with an extra few quid.
These do-gooders; they’re the ones who moan about the ‘factory model’ of education without actually considering the metaphor: factories are bloody efficient. And they have high standards. In fact, they have the same high standards for all and do everything they can to ensure that every thing is in place to ensure that every thing processed in that factory becomes the very best product it can be.
These do-gooders, they’re the ones who frown at you when you swear about little Johnny in the staff room, as if you actually meant it when you called him a feckless shite, when in fact, of course you didn’t mean it. But, you’re human, and sometimes, slagging someone off makes you feel good.
I understand that there’s an argument for modelling good behaviour; that, as teachers, we should be paragons of virtue for all and sundry.
But I disagree. And so do the kids. They know what’s real and what isn’t. Why do you think they constantly criticise those teachers who change the moment another teacher is in observing? Kids value authenticity. And the Mother Teresa act just ain’t genuine.
There’s a mental health crisis in our schools. We’re overworked and we’re stressed and we’re crumbling. Many of us are leaving work feeling worthless. This saintliness, exhibited by so many of our colleagues, is not on. It’s an act designed for their own apotheosis at the cost of others’ denigration.
So, please, for the sake of our students. Actually, no, this time-sod the students. For the sake of us- the colleagues who come to work to get the job done and occasionally hate it a little bit-for our sakes…can we stop with the mother Teresa act? It’s not doing anybody any good.