The dark side of the classroom - No fun being a teacher's son

5th August 2011 at 01:00

It is hard being a teacher's child. Dolly Parton might reckon that work only consumes people's lives from nine till five, but if she had a teacher as a mum, she would know better. The problem is, it is not just the marking that teachers bring home from school.

As their child you are left battling their professional training, trying to coax out the compassionate parent within. It is like dealing with Robocop, except with more stickers and marginally less threat of violence. Indeed, the quality of life you live is entirely contingent on the kind of teacher you have inherited: a classroom-manager-human hybrid or the teaching equivalent of ED-209 (ruthless, efficient and... cough... unable to climb stairs).

If you are the son of an educator, it can be hard to shake off their interference: while your friends are living life like characters in Skins, your reality is locked firmly in Inbetweeners territory. I don't know which is more mortifying: the realisation that your mother has discovered the stash of lads' mags under your mattress or listening to her criticise their errant usage of the Oxford comma.

For the family Thrope, the teaching profession has come to rule our entire lives. If nature abhors a vacuum, the teaching profession does doubly so. At first it is a creeping influence, one that elicits an air of suspense akin to Hitchcock's The Birds. A stray worksheet fluttering in the wind, the odd SEN statement nestled ominously in your sock drawer. But before you know it, paperwork has come to clutter every surface of the house.

Sadly it does not stop there. From the Gregorian chanting of times tables, to the vast mountains of dry-wipe markers, your parent's profession touches everything, even your pubescent love life.

Parents, you heard it here first: nothing is more likely to obstruct your son's progress to second base than correcting the grammar of his latest flame at the dinner table. Forget contraception and religious moralising - the best way to keep your child "safe" is a steady diet of orthography.

It is hard not to feel you are getting the raw end of the deal. As any teaching guide will tell you, a good classroom manager needs to be, above all things, consistent. Unfortunately, the same working principle is not necessarily extended to the home environment. An overworked, sleep-deprived parent is a tricky entity to tackle at the best of times, let alone one with three peer observations, a red wine hangover and certification in the more militant theories of behavioural management. Each morning a complex matrix of factors, from Year 12's coursework, to the crockery cold war in the staffroom, dictates whether you will be greeted by Julie Andrews or Emperor Palpatine over the cornflakes.

The end of term ushers in little change. As results time comes around your companions will be basking in their achievements, reaping the rewards of fiddled coursework grades and Westminster's latest education wheeze. Not so for a teacher's child: my mother took one look at my GCSEs, adjusted them against grade inflation and my school's CVA, before administering a swift thwack to my head.

But seriously, teachers, heed my warning: if you ever want grandchildren, you best lay off the orthography.

Son of Thrope is a no good, beer-swilling university student, and actual son of Ms Anne Thrope, a secondary school teacher from the north east of England. Ms Anne Thrope is away.

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