In the previous incarnation of my blog, I wrote a list of what makes me “hate” teaching. The quotation marks are there because, seeing that I have been here for 6 years, I guess I don’t really “hate” it all that much.
I realise that post was a little controversial – I’ve seen reactions posts on other blogs and forums castigating me for being so negative and claiming that I must be a horrid teacher since I clearly hate my job. I also read a post suggesting that I failed to consider possible solutions or was looking at things the wrong way. I never replied or responded because these people were clearly operating under limited information plus I didn’t really want to prolong the conversation. It was, at the end of the day, vague ranting and reflections on my part.
Anyway, the post is gone which is quite sad because the comments I received on it were many times better than the actual post. Unfortunately, my backup of my posts got corrupted somehow and it disappeared. Maybe the wayback machine has it but the wayback machine is one of the websites banned by MOE*.
There was a recent news article on how more than 3000 new teachers have been recruited by MOE. I hope a number of them are EL teachers because while there has been a huge influx of maths and science teachers into my school, we are still struggling with too few EL teachers. I also hope these new teachers know what they are in for. MOE says they were “rigorous in its selection, ‘ensuring that only those with the passion, aptitude and commitment’ are chosen”.
In my experience, they determined my passion, aptitude and commitment through a 5 minute interview, which if you think about it must be a pretty good gauge seeing that I am still happily employed as a teacher. Frankly, I am pretty sure that most of these new teachers do believe that they have the passion, aptitude and commitment. I just think that for many of them, this belief hinges on an overly rose-tinted view of the profession.
Watch MOE’s advertisements and you would think that teaching involves cherubic children who just need your love and concern to bloom into great students and good people. You get to do fun and innovative activities that will engage these kids and they would love you for it. You come with lofty ideals to mould and to educate the next generation.
But you don’t see the children who swear at you, who throw chairs at you, who ask you if you want to fight. You don’t see the lack of a lunch break or the banality of canteen food. You don’t see the pressure of getting results from children who are not helping themselves. You don’t see the pain and despair of trying to help children from broken homes or abusive backgrounds. You don’t see how difficult it is to balance a child’s desires and needs with the expectations of their parents. You don’t see the struggle to teach 40 students in a class yet treat them all as individuals. You don’t see the stress that comes from knowing that when you make a mistake, you affect an actual person.
And they come into schools and they are horrified by the reality. Some adjust, cope and learn to enjoy what teaching has to offer. Others crumble in the face of hokkien curses, flying furniture and demanding management, wondering how on earth they thought this would be their dream job. But they are bonded for 3 years, and for 2 years at the school they start out in and suddenly, teaching is a prison. They don’t soar but are dragged down by reality.
All jobs are coated with a layer of romantic myth. Teaching isn’t the only one but sometimes I feel that its layer is a very thick one. One that is constantly being painted over by people who have never been a teacher. Layer 1: Long holidays! Layer 2: Short work days! Layer 3: Iron rice bowl!
I just feel very sorry for the young teachers I see sobbing in the staffroom or desperately working out how to pay off their bond.
* Speaking of banning websites, I have to teach sex education tomorrow so I thought I would google some common sex myths subscribed by teenagers so I could discuss them in class. Bad idea. Guess I will need to do it at home.