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A good career move

Being a teacher has its fair share of benefits, says Francis Farrell

The deputy head who wrote that teaching was a "crazy choice" (TES, November 15) should stop discouraging her pupils from considering it as a career. There are many reasons why teaching can be a dynamic career for the right person. Here's what I say to my pupils who ask about the profession: uTeaching is an extremely stimulating job. The range of interactions, the social and intellectual demands made and the skills employed in the space of a day keeps the mind lively. In a typical day, a teacher can begin in a pastoral role as form tutor, teach, for instance, narrative ballads to a class of 11-year-olds, anticipate and head off a pupil argument in the playground, look at the language and style of newspapers with an exam class, discuss the portrayal and treatment of racism in To Kill a Mockingbird and Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry, attend a committee meeting thrashing out theoretical and practical aspects of a new school policy and end with a discussion on the image of the hearth in Jane Eyre with a group of perceptive and articulate sixth-formers.

The stimulation created by such a sheer range of encounters and levels of intellectual operation should not be discounted. Teachers who change careers often find they miss the job. Done properly, it is difficult to become bored.

* Teaching is a career where what you do can have a beneficial influence on people for the rest of their lives. Take a look at the "My Best Teacher" feature every week in The TES. I can't imagine anyone waxing lyrical about "My Best Accountant" or recalling how grateful they are for the conveyancing job their solicitor did 20 years ago.

* You enjoy a good deal of autonomy. Within the parameters of the national curriculum a teacher has a good deal of freedom over the organisation and presentation of work. Lesson planning and materials design can be a creative outlet.

* You have the opportunity to share and enthuse with other people about something important to you. It keeps you in contact with your subject and able to see the way new academic developments gradually makes themselves felt in schools.

* You have a good deal of geographical mobility. Furthermore, teachers with British qualifications are in demand abroad - this is quite apart from TEFL teachers. Unlike many international business people and diplomats, teachers who want to work abroad have a lot more choice.

* Teaching has a good record on equal opportunities for women. who hold many middle-ranking and senior posts. The same is not yet true for ethnic minorities entering the profession, but teaching is not alone in this respect.

* Teaching provides school holidays and a tremendous opportunity to spend time with your family. The chance to spend time with people, rather than spending money on things, should not be dismissed lightly.

Finally, for those with ambition and ability, promotion can lead to reasonable financial rewards.

Francis Farrell is a main scale teacher at The Derby High School, Bury who has been teaching for 14 years.

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