Not stars, but sound professionals

10th October 1997 at 01:00
David Bell (TES, September 26) seems to want to invigorate the profession and inspire us all to be the best that we can possibly be, by praising our very best teachers. His aim is laudable and his description of inspired teaching must ring bells with all of us who have seen a large number of teachers in action, but he is not alone in being able to recognise the signs of an outstanding teacher.

My main contention is with his proposition that our very best teachers will make the difference in the end. I think not. The people who make the difference are the thousands of run-of-the-mill teachers who do a good job, day after day, until they finally retire exhausted.

Yes, of course there are highly talented individuals who, by the sheer power of their personality, can have an oversized class of teenage delinquents or socially-deprived infants eating out of their hands.

Yes, they are great entertainers and some of them will inspire a few individuals to greatness but, as a parent, I would not like to gamble on my child coming into contact with one of these rare superteachers.

A limited number of them stay in the profession anyway, so the chances are slim. Rather, I would prefer that he or she would encounter a series of sound practitioners who worked relentlessly at helping their children to realise their potential.

The teaching profession is not Hollywood. The glamorous stars of the profession are not what education is about for the majority. Let us forget this outdated cult of the individual and concentrate on the systems. It is not so hard to be a good teacher in a good school but it is very easy to become a disillusioned teacher in a bad one.


Manningham Lane Bradford

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