23rd September 2005 at 01:00
When pupils use language on teachers that makes an ex-squaddie blush, you have to ask if it's all worth it. Bill Hicks sorts the cynics from the idealists

It was a simple question: "Would teachers still recommend teaching as a job to young graduates?"

Within seconds of Ms Eng's posting, we'd had a blunt "No" and an "Unreservedly, yes". The floodgates had been opened.

At first, the "nos" prevailed, though the advice was often tinged with regret: "Sorry to say, no. Too much hassle, too much paper, too much pointless nonsense. It wasn't like that when I started... I know I'm not alone in feeling I've just about had it."

Chrisrabbit was a lonely dissenter: "If someone says 'don't do it' then they are a prime example of someone not coping with their job, so don't ask them anything else.

"Only do it if you can hack it. It's the worst job in the world if you can't."

Arched Eyebrow was having none of this: "Develop the hide of a rhino and see it as a 'job' and you just might survive. Given most of us want to make an impression and teach our subjects well, I'd say we are doomed to failure. It's become a foul job... I'd say 'don't do it' (in case you hadn't guessed.)" Squeaky cited another common reason for saying no: "As an ex-soldier in my thirties, the way some children speak to me is worse than what I received in the army, especially when taking supplycover lessons."

And then there was poor anniebaker: "It got to the stage where I envied people working in Asda and collecting the rubbish in the mornings."

After 50 or so postings, more positive voices were being heard.

Strawberrykate found teaching compared favourably with previous jobs in retail and law, and her message was pointedly reinforced by Zzub: "I agree... the people who whinge the most about how bad teaching is are the people who have never done anything else."

And yet, over in the prospective teachers' forum, it was like the first day of the Harrods sale. Hundreds of forum virgins (about 900 last week, actually) would not be so easily dissuaded. The discourse was urgently practical, with people exchanging detailed last-minute advice on personal statements and application forms. No signs of any doubters here. But one thread was an eye-opener, and again it started with a simple question: "How old are you?"

Blah! elaborated: "Now the excitement of the launch of the form has died down I'm a bit bored at work! So i started thinking: what age is everyone who is applying for teacher training? I'll start off. I'm 20 and will be 21 when i start my teacher training! Little worried about being so young!"

Nyima: "21."

Caits: "I'll be 23. Slightly worried i would be too young, but age alone does not make you a good teacher!"

Miss V: "28."

Eloise1405: "I'm 30 now and will be 31 when i start."

Zippyrows: "I'll be 30 when I start PGCE. Am 29 now, 31 when I start teaching (if I get a job of course)."

Ratgirl: "37 and a half! Do I win, do I win?!"

No you don't, Ratgirl. At time of writing soupdragon was in the lead: "I'll be 43 if I get in for 2006! How old is that?"

Does age really matter? Well, on another thread about an unlikely new entrant to the profession, it seemed it could be a factor. "Ruth Kelly - would she make a good teacher?"

Henrywalpole - who, if I may be permitted the plug, has just relaunched his excellent primary teaching blog on the TES website - had doubts: "Is she old enough? She just reminds me of a schoolboy whose voice hasn't broken yet. Maybe she could come in on work experience. We could have her cleaning the paint pots..."

www.tes.co.ukblogswalpole. Bill Hicks is editor of the TES website.


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