For mere mortals it's hard work;Letter

22nd October 1999 at 01:00
IS IT a syllabus? Is it a scheme of work? Is it a mark book? .... No! it's Super Teacher. He woos with a word, spellbinds with a sentence and transfixes with a turn of phrase.

His brilliance eclipsed by a wall of lost essays, he shines his inspiration upon the hearts of budding Charles Mansons and lo! multitudes of Mother Theresas are born. Gone from his vocabulary are such poverty- stricken phrases as planning, marking and testing, his very presence is enough to bring forth untold treasures from the hearts and minds of ... Oh do me a favour!

Come on, Andrew Cunningham. It's time to come down from the planet Zog and join the real world along with the rest of us.

No one is saying that qualities such as inspiration and brilliance are unwanted in the classroom - plainly we need more teachers with the ability to thrill. To imply however, that some innate magical quality is more fundamental than the skills and strategies, which the craftsman teacher can and must acquire by sheer hard work is simply unhelpful.

Unhelpful to the profession and dismissive of the rest of us lesser mortals who don't fall into the super-hero category but who care enough to want to be better, to do better and are willing to work hard in order to make it happen.

How sad that Mr Cunningham seems to think that "fizz" is somehow incompatible with following a syllabus, "fun" can't be a major ingredient of carefully planned lessons and "sparkle" is an alternative to a good scheme of work. It is likewise tragic that a love for a subject and a natural rapport with children is often mistaken for quality teaching rather than an ingredient of it.

The picture painted by Mr Cunningham is one of an entertainer and an egoist who enjoys the buzz of children "hanging on his every word".

In my opinion, it is time such teachers added a safety net of professionalism to their act. They may then be able to catch the children who dare to "fall off".

Forgive the cliche but to me, the art of teaching is more to do with perspiration than inspiration. You don't have to be Super Teacher but you do have to invest a lot of yourself in your craft and you do have to care.

Rob Guinney

Head of science

The Mary Webb school

Shrewsbury

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