Sunday 26 January 2020

Diary of a Schoolteacher: My brother pictures my easy day at work, all at his expense -- if only he really knew

My brother F, now in his late forties and up till a few years ago a successful estate agent, is of the opinion that teachers and all public servants have an easy life.

He likes to 'troll' websites, giving spleen to articles online that mention his personal bogeyman.

He feels bitter because there are still people like me who have full-time jobs, albeit with roughly one-third of our old salary and maybe a partner who has lost his or her job and a few kids at school.

Sitting in his SUV outside his Spanish holiday apartment, this is how he imagines my day to be.

I arrive at the school at 8:59. On entering the room the whole class stands up, because they are afraid of me but respect me too.

This is of course followed by calling the roll during which I callously make fun of anybody with an unusual surname.

After that I take them for class but I don't do any work of course, because all I have to do is hand out worksheets downloaded off the web and the reason that nobody complains is because of the iron discipline that we all remember from our own time at school.

Now I tuck into a second breakfast and do a crossword while they work away in utter silence.

My next class is spent making fun of kids who have stutters and who are either posh or working class -- doesn't matter which.

Screaming my way through the lesson, I make threats and snide remarks because this is an exam class and this is how the sharpest teachers operate. However, the pupils don't mind and cheerfully compare 'eccer' and politely straighten each other's ties.

The tough kids play hockey or rugby and the gentler type collect stamps and butterflies. I regularly get free classes because the whole school is taken to Mass to pray for success for the hockey and rugby teams or because of any given religious feast.

On other days a priest will take my class for me and play Simon and Garfunkel tapes to relax them.

In the staff room the teachers eat free biscuits and drink free tea, all provided by the hard-pressed taxpayer. Talk consists of planning our next strike so that it coincides with the best weather to be enjoyed in our holiday homes abroad or checking the internet for latest new editions of course books so that parents will have to fork out a few hundred euro more next year.

Naturally we're delighted because we have an axe to grind with the ones that dare to complain.

Most of all we spend our time moaning about how hard our job is and 'pulling sickies' that last from Friday to Tuesday.

Summer is when we spend our huge salaries.

And here I have to ruin the illusion: sorry, bro, but absolutely none of the above happens in the modern Irish school.

Doesn't mean we can't have a laugh at the way it actually is, though.

Irish Independent

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