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Atten-shun! Teaching isn't like the military

I have already made the transition from parade square to classroom: former regimental sergeant major, now class teacher in a County Durham comp. Great - exactly what Michael Gove wants in his white paper ("G-Day: Gove lifts veil on his big ideas" and editorial, November 26).

However, be warned, former colleagues: teaching is nothing like the armed forces. It was my part-time job as a detention officer with the local police, which funded my four years of study, that gave me an insight into what was to come. It exposed me to the social problems I had never encountered in our safe and closed military society.

Motivating soldiers, who are already motivated, is not the same as motivating Year 9s. Shout at them and they will laugh and walk out of your lesson. You can't take them round the back of the guardroom and sort them out.

My former colleagues in the forces have a wealth of talent, knowledge, humour, resilience and abilities to bring to the classroom, as I hope I am already doing. But be warned: not every one of your abilities is directly transferable. There are no shortcuts and training is not the same as teaching.

David Hancock, Stanley School of Technology, County Durham.

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