Apeing the role of a zoo-keeper

18th April 2003 at 01:00
AFTER reading the article about a supply teacher likening his role to a zoo-keeper as he tackles class after class of badly-behaved secondary pupils, I would like to point out a few things (TES, April 4).

Having been a keeper myself before entering teaching, I was struck that the article only highlighted one similarity, namely that zoo-keepers keep things clean and look after animals. I know that a degree in biology as well as knowledge of positive behavioural control and psychology are key skills in helping to get to know the "animals".

The main reason anyone enters zoo-keeping is a desire to understand more about the animals in their care and to allow them to behave as naturally as possible within unnatural, overcrowded surroundings, with little money available in the budget to improve conditions for either animals or carers.

Under these often overcrowded, inadequate conditions, keepers - who are often few in number compared with the animals they are responsible for, are trying to make the animals' lives as happy and as enriching as possible using limited resources.

The zoo-keeping job, being a caring profession, comprises long hours, with work often being taken home, for very little financial reward. Maybe there are more things in common with zoo-keeping and teaching than has been suggested.

SJ Norcup

(Address supplied)

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