Thursday 14 December 2017

Thinking of becoming a teacher? I don't want to alarm you, but...

Have you been suckered into training to be a teacher? If so, it's not too late.

Nobody is forcing you to take on this dangerous mission, just like our Viking ancestors who were codded into taking the longboat to Ireland (imagine the ad: 'Sitric Travel, Ireland, seats from 20 pieces of silver'), only to find that there's really only so much rape and pillage you can do before you finally have to settle down and find a job.

When I signed up for the Postgraduate Diploma in Education the old hands in the staff room where I was doing my teaching practice warned me that I'd be skint for the rest of my life if I was stupid enough to go through with it.

Now that was in the midst of the last Irish recession (roughly 1844-1997) and anything that paid better than unemployment assistance sounded good to me, especially if it meant that from now on it would be me who was going to ask the question 'did you work this week?'

Apart from rotten pay that nowadays only threatens to get worse the longer you stay, what are the other drawbacks?

Well, for a start you can forget about having a private life – ratemyteacher.com, Facebook and school memes have seen to that.

Don't know what a 'meme' is? It's a web page set up by your pupils that sends up your school and allows kids in other schools to slag off everyone connected with the place. Most of the time it's quite harmless but then again it can get pretty nasty, too.

Personally I ignore it when my pupils write stuff about me, whether it's in the toilets or on the internet. Sticks and stones.

What I do take exception to is the kind of 'sting' arranged by a pair of 5th years, Emma Shenanigan and her equally sly best-friend Karen Sneary.

This is how they set it up: Emma stations herself in the corridor just after lunch break and makes sure I see her laughing as she scatters crisps all over the floor (cheese 'n' onion Tayto, what a waste).

I then stride up to her and give out stink.

Meanwhile, from around the corner Karen holds up her iPhone and films the whole thing; there's Emma with her 'ooh Sir, I'll pick them up, but only if you look away, I've got such a big bum,' and here's my red face as I struggle simply to get her to apologise and pick up the crisps.

It's all there to see on Facebook if you are lucky enough to be one of Emma's 2,000 'friends'.

Then there's the shouting of 'queer' or 'lezzer' by these kids whose lives you've been trying to improve, every time you venture out with a friend/partner/your children/your dog to the Main Street to pay a bill or buy some milk.

Teachers of the future, take heed: if you're not absolutely sure that you have the vocation, don't forget that The X Factor will be auditioning again in Dublin soon.

Irish Independent

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