Wednesday 24 January 2018

Yes, we teachers just don't know how privileged we really are

E Grade

The other day a well respected journalist informed us that the annual Easter-time teachers' union conferences were a pathetic farce with shouting for this and demands for that coming from teachers who are amongst the most 'privileged employees in the State'.

Well, I've never met a professional teachers' union official, and it's purely Kafkaesque getting them to return a phone call or answer an email if I have a query or an issue (they are so busy).

The reason they get so worked up is that their job is to look after those small and often vulnerable people called 'children' and they know that making them scapegoats for smarmy bankers is a very bad thing.

But 'privileged'? Yeah, sure -- wasn't there a long list of teachers at the Royal Wedding the other day, and there's no end of glamorous Irish models getting divorced from their teacher husbands now that they earn 15% less than two years ago.

It's rumoured that Megan Fox is leaving Hollywood to go to Dundalk to make her fortune by marrying an Irish chemistry teacher while the News of the World this week has an exclusive on topless model Imogen Thomas' 'insatiable appetite' for Irish primary-school principals.

That's right -- Ireland is full of empowered and wealthy teachers driving their families in the latest Lexus to private schools, living a light-hearted chick-lit life featuring winsome religion teachers falling for a lantern-jawed caretaker hunk called Paschal.

And please let us not forget the great privileges that being enrolled for €90 a year in the mighty Teaching Council bring us. It means that we are guaranteed to get paid at the end of the month and . . . well nothing else. Not even a discount in Eason's.

But the shiny little card they send us is very nice and when you consider that the English equivalent, the General Teaching Council's card, costs only £36.50 and that they're going to abolish it next year, then I suppose we are privileged.

Of course the comparison with England doesn't really hold water when you consider that a great many of their schools operate a policy called 'exclusion'. I thought that exclusion was some new pseudo-religion like Scientology, but if you even glance at an English newspaper you will soon understand that it's just a new word for 'expelling'.

The option of expelling a pupil, incredibly enough, is a privilege that English schools still have and we Irish educators are looking on enviously as our classrooms fill up with the illiterate and the borderline mentally disturbed who are dumped in our schools because it's cheaper than giving them appropriate care.

Just try and get them assessed and give them teachers who are trained to help them and after three or four years you just might get them the education they need.

No, we're not privileged. Just like the Finns, we are fed up paying for the gambling losses of others -- and it's our job to protect future generations.

That's our privilege.

Irish Independent

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