My worst parent - Know-all went down in history

3rd June 2011 at 01:00

If there is one thing worse than a know-all, it is a know-all who is the parent of one of your pupils. In fact he was not so much a "know-all" as a "know-more" - that is, he knew a lot more than me.

I ply my trade as a teacher of history. I went to a respectable university, did OK and know my stuff. Or so I thought. Anyway, I certainly didn't know as much as MWP (my worst parent) and, worse still, we both knew it.

His lad was in my A-level group. He wasn't especially good, but neither was he bad. He was heading for a C grade, but could have scraped a B with a following wind and, according to MWP, a better teacher.

It just so happened that MWP was also a teacher of history at a minor public school. Furthermore - and fair enough - he was pretty well-informed on our syllabus - so well informed that every time I marked his son's homework, I would get a missive from him contesting my interpretation of the work.

The trouble was that these critiques were invariably valid - and as a relatively inexperienced practitioner I didn't have the confidence to respond and fight my corner.

Eventually, the word spread around the classroom that I wasn't really much cop and my fragile confidence went down a couple of notches. I would give marked work back to the class and half of them would start arguing the toss. It wasn't good.

I have to say that he got to me to such an extent that I ended up leaving. I rebuilt my career and self-esteem elsewhere. I'm sure I could have played the whole thing better.

And as for the progeny of MWP, I am rather ashamed to say that a grin lit up my face when I later heard of his grade D in history.

The writer works at a sixth form college.

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