Don't do what I did - Mine is a name that should never be spoken

29th May 2009 at 01:00

When I went into teaching, I was determined not to be like some of the specimens who'd inflicted their "teacher's persona" on me.

I understood there was a fair amount of role play involved in being a teacher - a bit of mock anger here, a touch of horrified reaction there - but I didn't want to spend my professional life being someone else.

In my "civilian" existence I'm a reasonably friendly, open person and a tad gullible. All of which may add up to the psychometric profile of someone that shouldn't be allowed within a mile of a classroom.

My tutor group in my first job was nice. The school had a good reputation despitebecause of (select according to ideology) a liberal culture and early signs were promising.

Inevitably they tested me. I was prepared for this and did my best to establish a few boundaries. Except in one respect. They asked my first name and I had no qualms telling them "J" was for John. But I've always been sensitive about my middle name.

However, in a moment of weakness, I told them. There was a moment's silence. There followed an outbreak of mass hilarity. It went on and on until the deputy head stuck his head in and commanded silence. Later, in the staffroom, he asked me what prompted the pupils' response. I told him, only for exactly the same performance to be repeated among the assembled staff. It stuck with me as a nickname for years. It appeared on toilet walls and etched on the odd desk. It hung over me, undermining any veneer of credibility and professionalism I had.

Two bits of advice. Firstly, if you have a funny name, keep it to yourself. Secondly, if you have kids and insist on lumbering them with a silly middle name, steer them away from teaching

John E Bateman teaches humanities in West Sussex. Send your NQT stories to and you could earn Pounds 50 in MS vouchers.

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