Hands up all those who support the teachers

The teaching profession attracts ripples of resentment while young teachers struggle to meet commitments

Mon, Apr 28, 2014, 01:00

Everyone who knows young teachers is familiar with the difficulties they face in securing permanent work: sending countless CVs to countless schools, driving around the State for interviews in schools that would mean upping sticks to some unfamiliar town, grabbing a day here, a day there, a substitution shift here, some maternity cover there. For students, being taught by several teachers over a short period of time is disruptive. The changing nature of work in the teaching sector reflects the changing nature of all work. For young people, there is no such thing as a job. There is no such thing as security. There is no such thing as permanency. This is the real generation gap.

Not a nixer or an easy gig
The derision teachers face over the perceived “short hours” and “long summer holidays” is overblown. If it was such a sweet deal, everyone would be at it. But who has the calling and the energy to face classrooms full of teenagers? People with a lot more patience than most of us, that’s who. Teaching is not a nixer. It is not an easy gig. At the TUI conference in Kilkenny, delegates were told about the escalation of violence in disadvantaged schools; broken bones, chipped teeth, verbal and physical assaults were all given as examples of attacks against teachers.

But at the heart of the teaching profession is the sadly increasingly unfashionable culture of volunteerism. So many teachers go above and beyond what is required of them. They stand on the edge of mucky pitches training the sports stars of our future. They offer counsel to young people with no one else to turn to. They stay late leading rehearsals for musicals and plays. They co-ordinate fundraising in communities. If we were being honest with ourselves, teachers would be among the best paid and most respected workers in the State because, let’s face it, nobody remembers their favourite banker.

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