Over 60, but young at heart

13th May 2005 at 01:00
You would rightly be ashamed to print "Would you want your child taught by a black person?" so why should older teachers be on the receiving end of equally offensive ageist claptrap.

Consider these advantages for the school:

* Older staff often have better academic qualifications and more extensive subject knowledge than the newer intake, along with instant recall of the many ways to get the syllabus across, developed by vast experience.

* Those of us who have reached grandparent age may well be more patient with the impatience of the young, and generally wiser in the ways of the world. We have mainly been parents so can relate to their problems.

* The nation needs teachers of shortage subjects, so there is also a patriotic duty to continue especially in these.

There are also personal reasons to carry on. Contact with agile young minds keeps the mind young, by delivering new skills. For example my pupils have taught me a vast amount about computers over the years and I have even mastered moon-walking hanging on a huge spring. We can do a lot more in life once our own young have flown the nest with a salary rather than a pension.

If the rest of you are going to be "exhausted at 50", do something about it while you still can, instead of whingeing and being gratuitously offensive to your older colleagues. Many professions are just as hard-working as ours is, and a good few much more stressful.

I was promoted to head of department and key skills co-ordinator at 58, had my best ever GCSE results at 57 and 59, and my best A-level results at 56.

I am still the Ucas counsellor, outreach teacher to primary schools and was Pupil Research Initiative "Teacher of the Decade" at 61.

I do not intend to "die in the classroom" whether literally or metaphorically as I have several projects in mind for the next four years.

And there are lots out here exactly like me.

Dr Carol Blyth Wendover Buckinghamshire

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