Unloved subject is a passion killer

4th April 2003 at 01:00
NICHOLAS Woolley is perhaps revealing his own limitations when he claims that a first degree does not make you a specialist in anything ("Leave your specialism behind, and teach", TES, March 21).

I am an art specialist. During the past 25 years since completing my degree in fine art, I have spent my time working as a painter and draughtsman and Icontinue to do so.

One of the reasons I became a teacher was because, with my specialist knowledge, I believed I could help young people achieve their aesthetic, creative and expressive potential through an engagement with visual art. I remain committed to that. I cannot teach German, as my wife does, because I do not speak German. She cannot teach art because she does not practise as an artist. Our jobs are not interchangeable. I am sure many colleagues feel the same about their specialism.

The only way I know of teaching my subject is to enthuse and inspire. If I were asked to become a general teacher and required to teach a range of subjects for which I am not trained nor particularly interested in, then I would be unable to do my job with the conviction that I now do.

Finally, the implication that the teacher-shortage problem could be addressed by teachers becoming non-specialist educators is surely flawed.

I am a teacher because of my subject. I would not have entered the profession if it were not for my desire to teach my subject. If I were now to be asked to concentrate on other areas of the curriculum to the detriment of the specialism that I love and am committed to, then I would begin to look for an alternative and less demanding career, and I am sure many colleagues would feel the same.

P Bryan 17 George Street Bedford

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