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How a perfect teacher

Master, I seek the Holy Grail. What makes a Perfect Teacher?


I shall wait for as long as you wish...

Patience - that makes a good teacher. And determination. But a perfect teacher has balance.

I can stand on one leg...

A balance of firmness and sympathy, to listen and to impose, the wisdom of Solomon and the decisiveness of a charging lion, the organization of an army and the flexibility of a contortionist, who can melt the heart or drive a stake through it if needed.

Driving steaks and melting hearts - Jamie Oliver?

No, presumptuous pup! You must have all these skills and be able to choose the right moment for every pupil, singly and together. Be absolute, flexible and consistent too.


The Perfect Teacher is a a fine blend - policeman, sergeant major, counsellor, uncle, step parent, wise owl, adviser, technician, nurse, ruler, judge, gaoler, leader, stationer, nurse-maid, educator.

Whoah! Anything not on the list?

Butcher? (though I've been tempted) And balance?

Smiling and frowning, velvet glove and mailed fist, a guiding hand with steely grip, it's pastoral care and academic rigour, both physical and intellectual, winning hearts and minds, encouraging independence and obedience, being avuncular and inspiring respect, an optimist and a realist.

And patience?

So when you're 60 (if spared) you may look back and say, "I was a pretty good teacher."

Duncan Grey is a former teacher and writes on education. His book First Aid Teaching is due out next spring

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