Letters extra: why I gave up teaching

7th September 2001 at 01:00

Three months ago, I abandoned my 17-year career as a mathematics teacher for a new one far removed from education.

My reason for giving up was hostility: from the Government; from the management of the college where I worked; and from students. I will try to explain why I could no longer enjoy going towork.

  • Government
    • The Government seemed unable to credit me with the wit to know what to teach, and I was left to try to interpret the incompetent ramblings of civil servants who clearly knew no mathematics.

      So long as the dull greybeards of QCA and their kin in the exam boards continue to hold sway, the imagination and talent of mathematicians who might want to become teachers will be constrained. Current syllabuses are a fearsome mess, lacking coherence or relevance.

      There is also the problem of hours. I worked in offices for 11 years before becoming a teacher and I am now back in an office. It is nowhere near as stressful as teaching. To say that on average teachers work no more than anyone else is a typical misuse of statistics by Government spokes people. To use an analogy: the average person needs two litres of water a day, but if I gave you four litres a day for six months and nothing for six months, despite having the average over the year, you would still be dead.

      • management
        • The management of FE is so arrogant and self-absorbed (I have worked in five colleges) that it is unable to accept that anything is ever wrong, and its attitude is along the lines of, "if you don't like it, please go away", although expressed less graciously.

          • nbsp; students
            • The students were resentful at the irrelevant curriculum and the dreadful conditions in which they were expected to learn. They were frequently aggressive and uncooperative. I was made to feel as if this were entirely my fault. The idea that they might have to put in some effort never entered their heads. Anything less exciting than Lara Croft or of greater duration than a television beer advertisement was deemed boring and pointless.

              Paul Garcia
              Turnford,
              Herts

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