'I became a teacher to challenge stereotypes'

Career to date?

After A-levels I studied sociology at the University of Staffordshire. I then did a masters degree in social and political thought at Warwick. I took a year out and did voluntary teaching at City College, Birmingham, and then a PGCE at Keele University.

Why did you become a teacher?

I went to a school where there were no Asian teachers. It doesn't give you anything to aim for; you don't have the traditional role models, and therefore you are surrounded by stereotypes that a woman's place is in the home. I became a teacher to challenge those stereotypes, and to say, "Look, I've made it, so can you".

I chose sociology because it challenges people's opinions. People tend to have very set ideas about other groups of people, and sociology doesn't allow that. You have to have an open mind. So I record TV programmes like EastEnders and ask the students to look at how the characters are portrayed; we try to determine how people develop stereotypes towards women or different cultural groups.

What's the best thing that's happened to you so far?

My students left a little note for me after their AS-level exams telling me that I'd inspired them all to become sociologists. And there was a PS that they could never watch EastEnders in the same way again.

And the worst?

We were talking about ethnicity and one of the students said, "They're not going to have Asians in Emmerdale because there are no Asians in these little northern villages." Another student shouted across the room, "You're being racist. They should have Asians in every programme to reflect the cultural diversity of the country." I said, "You can't accuse him of being racist; he's got a point." I felt it was something that could have alienated that student and made the others gang up on him.

What do you like most about teaching?

I like students to achieve, but by redirecting them and them achieving it themselves. I like them to be enthusiastic about their own learning.

What is your dream job?

I'm happy where I am because I'm gaining the experience, but I think a few years down the line I would want to become a head of department.

Top tip?

At the interview for your first teaching job ask what they can do for you, and how your NQT year will be structured. I think the worst thing you can do is go into a job where the support isn't there.

Interview by Martin Whittaker

Log in or register for FREE to continue reading.

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you