But Jeremy Newnham (below), the new head of Caistor Yarborough School near Lincoln, is likely to be better at it than most. His unusual career has seen him go from zookeeper to headteacher.
"At one time I could only have dreamed of having such a prestigious post," the 43-year-old told the Grimsby Telegraph.
"After years of professional training and experience of teaching in Lincolnshire schools, I am overjoyed at being appointed. It is a fantastic opportunity to work with the whole school community."
Mr Newnham studied zoology at Leeds University, and worked first at the Science Museum in London before becoming the primate keeper at Edinburgh Zoo.
It was as he was giving children educational tours that Mr Newnham decided to turn his back on naturalism in favour of teaching.
Putting his experience to good use, he qualified as a science teacher 15 years ago.
Mr Newnham, who holds an MA in education, will become head of Caistor Yarborough, a specialist arts college boasting a new pound;1.5 million arts centre, from September. He joined the school in 2006 after working at The Giles School in Old Leake, near Boston.
Edinburgh Zoo continues to house lots of primates, but remains more famous for its penguins.