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Am I only fit for the clegs?;Opinion

THE QUEST for self-improvement is one teachers increasingly embrace. Whether it is formalised officially through development interview to whether it emerges from a day-to-day awareness of the job, the desire to do better looms large for today's teachers.

Ever since the term "restricted professional" was coined for teachers who didn't have a Gestetner machine in the bedroom, the worry existed that the cap might fit. Like Boxer in Animal Farm, the mantra adopted by the professionally responsible was "I must work harder". When a judge delivered the verdict that a teacher's workload had no limit, that the contract was for as long as it took to do the job, a frisson of guilt passed through me.

Computer literacy is a case in point. Memories of "training" sessions where 20 colleagues sat round the wall making slow progress through page one of a manual with zillions of pages are fresh in the mind. I recently gave a lift to a friend attending a local college. He was trying to master the computer (for the third time, he added) and paying for the privilege himself.

I feel I've not recovered from the earlier breakthrough when I completed my first three-colour Banda sheet, sadly not realising two of the colours were liable to fade over time. My trust in technology was dented.

An earlier headteacher of our school was in his room when the window was smashed by a football. The Tannoy burst into life. But instead of asking for the culprit to come to his room, the head merely outlined the damage and called on all pupils playing football to read Danny Blanchflower in the Sunday Express where expert tuition was given about keeping your body over the ball at the point of impact.

A leaflet came into the school at the end of the session offering courses in self-discovery on a Greek island. Imagine the cachet at an interview when asked about professional development to reply that you had just spent your holiday doing the very same thing. The new shortened summer break should allow the really keen to manage two such courses.

My own search for self-improvement has obviously failed. Last month my wife said, "You must be very attractive to insects", and covered up by explaining that it was my sensitivity to cleg bites that had been on her mind.

Pride of place for success must go to the retired maths teacher whose weight had increased after giving in to sloth and lassitude on ending his career. He was determined to rectify matters and when last heard of was nursing two broken ribs, having fallen out of bed on to his exercise bike.

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