Fighting against the "brush things under the carpet" brigade; In defence of the TES
But first, a lovely tale....
I arrived at school smiling.
My students arrive, after skipping through forests, admiring the daffodils, whilst occasionally stopping to read some Enid Blyton. I love Enid Blyton.
In class, they carefully open their pristine exercise books and beautifully illustrated textbooks and are all eager to learn.
I clear the apples from my desk.
I just teach them, because teaching is great.
Nothing bad happens.
Teaching is great. Its hard work, but its great.
I leave at, well, a normal time. I’m off to the beach.
Caption: Me on a beach
This story is dedicated to Vicky Kconcnis who recently posted this comment on my last TES article:
“Dear TES - PLEASE stop posting SUCH negative articles! I am aware our jobs are high pressure - but sometimes I honestly think that these sort of articles make matters worse. They make teachers look like we can't handle any sort of pressure at all. Can you occasionally release an article about how great our jobs are?!"
I hope this story makes you happy Vicky. I hope you say to your friends; “I saw this article and felt like painting a picture of a rainbow”.
Caption: A picture of a rainbow
But, I teach in Spain. I don’t teach in the UK. This story is irrelevant. So, if you want more like this, seek out the following people; Chris Mayoh and Daniel Guiney (teach in Egypt), Kate Jones (teaches in Dubai), Russel Tarr (teaches in Toulouse), Scott Allsopp (teaches in Romania).
If I wrote this about my 8 years teaching in the UK up to 2016, it wouldn't be real. I'd just be brushing stuff under the carpet so I can present myself as a wonderfully smiley and happy person, who only ever tells others how fantastic everything is, for the sake of positioning myself "above it all". And on my perch, I could mock all the pathetic, annoying moaners who are constantly writing and talking about how certain things need to change from my throne of silence. Those pesky journalists and cynical teachers who keep bringing up the same old things about work life balance, teaching hours and the lives of teachers. I'm so much better than them. Their so boring. I'm so much more positive and therefore, so much better.
There were great days Vicky, there really were. Thats why i'm still a teacher. But note, this isn't about me.
You see, teaching should be an amazing job. It could be an amazing job. In itself, it’s amazing. But the problem is, in the UK, it’s not for so many. It’s being ruined. We need to stop it being ruined. I’m afraid my little story about sunshine and rainbows won’t affect that change. But those hundreds of articles you don't like that are posted via the TES might, in the long run. It is my view that those articles speak for the voiceless and disenfranchised, fed up of being battered by national newspapers who prefer to lambast the profession, rather than fight for it. Tom Bennett, telling the government that behaviour in schools isn’t good enough because of their oversight of initial teacher training. Natasha Devon, telling the government that the mental health of students is suffering because of the government agenda. Colin Harris, telling the government that teachers might start asking for all those extra hours back. Ed Dorrel, the content editor, ensuring that people read these articles and ensuring journalistic integrity. You might say that these writers, and others, are preaching to the converted, that may be true. But its not just teachers who read the TES and its not just money that talks.
It seems these days that whenever anyone points out something sour, they are accused of not talking up teaching. Do you want reform? Do you want real change? If not, I’m afraid you are in the minority because a lot of people are quitting because they are being denied that change. If you do want to see that reform, please realise that without an effective, persistent and unchained media, that’s not going to happen.
We are in the midst of the biggest recruitment crisis the profession has ever seen. I'm afraid a constant stream of "good will hunting" style stories of redemption against the odds might not solve this crisis. Fierce analysis with solutions offered might do.
Whatever you believe the corporate motivations of a news outlet are, History tells us that the power of the press can be transformative. If whats written is a lie, fine. But I challenge you to find one TES news or opinion piece that is so.