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Quiz queens: why teachers think they're the business

They may be bossy control-freaks who moan about how hard they work, but at least they are handy in a pub quiz. Teachers on The TES online staffroom are debating the best and worst qualities of their colleagues.

Most have a keen eye for their own flaws. One contributor lists: "Worst: love of paperwork. Worst: being boring. Worst: too many teetotallers.

Worst: working too many hours. Worst: tell everyone how hard they work.

There aren't any good points."

Others are less prone to self-excoriation. Minor flaws, they say, are entirely justified. "Many teachers are control freaks," one contributor said. "But they have to be to do the job well."

Being aware of one's faults is not always an effective means of eliminating them. One teacher admits a tendency to correct grammar in all contexts: the classroom, the playground, at parties.

Another said that her worst fault was: "Repeating everything at least twice to get the point across. That is, we have to reinforce what we're saying several times. After all, unless we say things in different ways, someone might not understand."

Others are keen to point out the good qualities that the profession encourages. One contributor said: "We have a great sense of humour in a crisis."

Many provide variations on this theme. One teacher said: "Our best quality is the Dunkirk spirit. We plough on regardless."

Another described this same quality as "being able, every September, to dredge up some residue of energy left over from a lifetime of rolling the boulder uphill".

This ability to see the bright side is evident even when they consider their own flaws. One contributor bemoaned teachers' tendency to accumulate facts, turning all family outings into lessons. But, she added: "We're great in quizzes."

In many cases, strengths and weaknesses are interlinked. One teacher sums up her best quality: "Total dedication to the kids we teach, and the belief that we can make a difference." And then her worst: "Total dedication to the kids we teach, and the belief that we can make a difference."

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