Sunday 17 December 2017

Things are beginning to look grave for our schools' zombie teachers

E Grade

Are you a zombie teacher? If so, you'd better watch out because the Government might come gunning for you: according to latest reports, the Government could soon make redundant those workers in the public service who are being paid for "surplus jobs where the position is actually gone".

This is a new approach, as up until now anybody employed to do a job that no longer exists (for example, the guy who designed the licences for black-and-white TVs or the people who ironed out wrinkly pound notes) were usually assigned somewhere else where they could be useful. It might never be applied to teachers, but we've heard that one before.

In our school we have received a couple of surplus teachers, made homeless when their school was deemed unviable and shut down. This has worked well – last year we got a new man who happens not only to teach art (a woman's job), he also supports Wolverhampton Wanderers. Endless slagging opportunities beckoned.

Zombie teachers mainly come in two forms. The most obvious is the kind we all recognise – usually grey-haired or with very badly dyed hair (I know one who seems to use jet-black shoe polish); he or she is on the payroll, though nobody knows what exactly it is they do.

They occasionally harass vulnerable-looking kids but always avoid the real troublemakers. They smell odd and live alone. Early dementia can play a role too.

Then there's the most common sort. He or she usually teaches in a reputable school and has a good track record when it comes to exam results.

This species of zombie strides into class while barking the order: "Summarise chapters 12 to 14!" If he is feeling energetic that day, he commences to read out notes from a card, never looking up until the bell goes for the next period.

I had such a zombie teaching me geography back in the day. Taught us for two years and never got to know any of our names. I'll never forget the day he glanced at a copy he'd taken up for correcting and mistook some schoolboy graffiti for the guy's actual name and called out: "Where's Sid Vicious today?" Must have thought he was some new foreign kid.

The problem with this kind of zombie is that they will get away with it as long as they can rely on the discipline system to back them up if a kid complains.

Obviously this style of teaching has been accommodated by the spread of computers. Computer rooms mean you can order them to log on to educational websites and work away while you do the shopping online.

It's important to remember that there are, in fact, very few zombie teachers out there these days. With all the paperwork and record-keeping demanded of each and every one of us, all that's left is to invent stuff about kids who you don't actually know.

Only a real zombie would try that.

Irish Independent

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