Don't mess with Miss

MOVE over James Dean, here come the real rebels - middle-aged, female, primary school teachers. More likely to sport pleated skirts and sensible shoes than leather jackets, new research has found the rebel in the staffroom is no fresh-faced twentysomething.

Around Europe, academics are finding that it is teachers midway through their careers who areradical, rebellious and downright bolshie. Asked in the early 1990s whether teachers should be a moral examplar in society, 15 per cent of 182 newly qualified Irish teachers agreed - while slightly fewer than 10 per cent felt that teachers should be "radical, venturesome and broadminded".

Ten years later Maureen Killeavy, of University College, Dublin, tracked down the same group and posed the question again, now 47 per cent agreed teachers should be radical, while those willing to put themselves forward as model citizens dropped to fewer than 1 per cent.

In the Czech Republic, where the official definition of teacher is an "upholder of change", a study found the latest group of innovators were middle-aged, female, primary teachers.

"The myth of young teachers being innovative gets rather shattered," Petr Novotny of Masaryk University, Brno, said.

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