In your own time - Age of austerity, alcopops and the joy of role-playing

14th May 2010 at 01:00
The election fallout has turned forum chat to reminiscing, romanticising and reinventing

With the election over, conversation in the online staffroom has turned to the inevitable cuts facing public services. How will teachers cope in the grim new age of austerity?

Thatcher fan Aldo1983 is rather looking forward to it. "As a nation we are self-indulgent, lazy, obese, impatient," he writes. "Wouldn't it do us good just to go without for a while? Things we take for granted will become rare treats and delicacies - as they were always meant to be.

"This is the kind of stuff that made our grandparents the tough, good-humoured people they are. They took hardship and turned it into something approaching fun."

But not all teachers were convinced by Aldo's glass half-full attitude.

Gender_Tilt described his theory as "half-baked sentimental piffle". "Life for many of our grandparents was an epic of grinding poverty, ill health, sub-standard - often verminous - housing and by modern standards early old age and death."

Celticqueen agreed. "My Grandma certainly doesn't hanker for the 'good old days'. She says they were awful."

So what will cheer teachers up when budgets are cut? Alcopops, apparently - although Sideshow was not sure of the appeal of pre-mixed vodka and coke. ("I don't drink, so can someone explain to me why you would want to buy this, except that you are too lazy to wash up glasses or pour two liquids?")

But other forum regulars were quick to provide suggestions when such drinks might prove handy. Answers included "picnics", "festivals", "the cinema" and "putting in your handbag if you're attending a wedding with a cash bar".

Thirdtimelucky was simply stunned that anyone ever diluted their vodka: "Not if you worked in my school you wouldn't."

One traditional way teachers can cope with the stresses of school is to adopt a persona. MrPinkEyes is researching whether teachers have a classroom alter ego and if they think it is "more of a construct rather than an authentic expression of their real self".

Responses on this were mixed. Some teachers insisted it would be too exhausting to play a role all the time, while others admitted undergoing a near Jekyll and Hyde transformation.

"At work I am enthusiastic, happy, energetic, tidy, organised, demanding and fair," wrote susiej. "Having used all those aspects of my personality up, at home I'm boring, grumpy, tired, lazy and messy."

"I think it's a twisted version of myself - some bits are accentuated," said thebigonion. "I've always found it important to separate the personae - helped me shrug off abuse from kids."

"I think everyone has to 'act' a bit in order to teach," added coffeekid. "If I truly expressed myself when teaching, I'd probably get the sack."

Michael Shaw

Join the debates: www.tes.co.ukausterity; vodka ;teachingself

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