Live another day

9th May 2008 at 01:00
Who wants this job?" I ask myself this while lesson planning and preparing resources at 1am
Who wants this job?" I ask myself this while lesson planning and preparing resources at 1am. Three times I've been there during this PGCE course, that place where I chuck it all in, crunch the numbers on how to pay back the student loan and make a bid to get my life back. I used to play bass guitar in two bands. I used to read merely for fun.

My previous career was in the financial services industry. I hated that job and a piece of me died every day I walked into the office.

Until, out of nowhere, we got visited by some fancy suits with cheap excuses and a "Thank you very much, and here's your golden kiss-off." Funny ol' life, eh? Well, thank you too, because that payment was my gateway to another career.

Let's go teaching. It'll be fun. You've seen the adverts: "Work with the greatest people in the world." Smiling, happy children, bright-eyed and inquisitive.

"If the universe is expanding, what is it expanding into?" asks one pupil. Good question. Now, shut up, sit down, and finish your GCSE revision. That should be the real denouement to those ads.

What's the best advice I've been given? Most say: "Don't smile until Christmas." I believe the golden rule for teaching should echo that for medicine: "First, do no harm."

I know I won't get paid what I'm worth. I know the demands on my time will only increase. I know about the targets, the parents, the paperwork, the pedantic box ticking. And, unless some cataclysmic event rips the very heart out of the education machine, I know these will get worse before they get better. Who wants this job?

Me? Nah, I don't want it mate. But I need it. I feel as if I've moved from the dead to the living. For the first time, I have a job where I feel connected to life, rather than detached from it.

As an RE teacher, I help pupils to think about things they would never consider in other subjects. Life, death, justice, prejudice, the numinous. Who am I and why am I here? You think business studies is going to tackle those questions?

Glenn Elliott is studying for a secondary RE PGCE at the University of East Anglia in Norfolk.

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