Earlier this week, I was publicly chastised by someone for being a teacher. Yes, you read that correctly. Recently, this person has made a lot of unprovoked attacks on me, claiming that because I’m now a teacher, I’ve lost my personality and I live in my own little bubble. You couldn’t make this stuff up. Anyway, this got me thinking about one of the many problems encountered by those working in the education sector – everyone’s been through it, so everyone’s an expert.
Most people start their lives in a hospital. In addition to my 2-day stay in the maternity ward at Craigavon Area Hospital in February 1987, I spend one hour of my Wednesday evening watching ‘One Born Every Minute.’ Despite this, I feel that I have absolutely no right to make comment about or pass judgement on the decisions of midwives and other medical staff. Yet as soon as someone in education does something slightly different to the norm, everyone has an opinion, as they feel they know all there is to know!
One thing that I was pulled up on was my supposed overuse of self-praise. By this, all I can interpret is that this person, who follows me on Twitter, has interpreted my sharing of good practice and good ideas as self-praise. What if people never shared the things that have gone well? Maybe we should adopt the Gove model of working and only highlight the things that have gone wrong? I use Twitter for my own professional development. From time to time, I find that I help people with theirs. I love the Twitter community of educational professionals because it is, on the whole, positive. People celebrate what goes well in their own classrooms and share these successes with the world, so that together we can implement these good ideas elsewhere, not just restricting them to one classroom.
Another criticism I faced is that I am supposedly teaching my children too much about technology and not enough about the basics. How someone who does not spend any time in my classroom can come to this conclusion is beyond me, yet the cold, hard facts are that I can give my class access to a computer each for one hour per week. Obviously, I use a set of laptops at other times of the week in other lessons, but children may have to share. In contrast to the one hour of ICT per week, I teach a minimum of 6 hours of maths and a minimum of 6 hours of literacy. Not enough about the basics? Not the case – more to do with a mis-informed viewpoint.
Don’t get me wrong about this – people are entitled to have their opinions. I have opinions about a myriad of things that I really have no right to have an opinion on, so therefore I keep these opinions to myself. What I don’t do is attack those who, whether one wants to admit it or not, know what they are doing and are the people trained to do a highly-skilled and difficult job. I was hurt and angry by some of the comments made to me recently, but decided not to get into an argument about it, as that would serve no purpose. The person in question will make comments about me writing this blog post, but this blog is for those interested in education and what I do in my classroom. Don’t like it? Then go read something else.
Teachers up and down this country and even further afield are doing an amazing job, serving the children they teach extremely well and giving them the best start in life. They do it because they care, not for self-promotion. They share because they want children outside of their classrooms to experience great learning opportunities, not to get praise heaped on them by their peers. To those teachers who shout from the rooftops about the great things they’re doing in classrooms, keep it up – you’re doing a great job and I salute you, even if others don’t.