Monthly Archives: November 2009

Only the Brave

‘Only the brave should teach.
Only those who love the young should teach.
Teaching is a vocation.
It is as sacred as priesthood:as innate a desire,
as inescapable as the genius which compels a great artist.
If he has not the concern for humanity,
the love of living creatures,
the vision of the priest and the artist, he must not teach.’

– Pearl S Buck.

These words are as relevant today as they ever were. The teaching profession is a political football kicked around to score votes from a misinformed public.  Initiative after initiative is thrown at us by governments only interested in quick wins.  Educational policy is seldom agreed by educators rather by politicians whose experience of school rarely goes beyond their own attendance  as a student (and many of their schools differ widely from those we work in)

Only the brave would enter a profession so publicly scrutinised. A profession that every paper and every politician has an opinion on.   Everyone went to school, subsequently everyone knows what’s best and how schools should operate.

Teaching is indeed a vocation, a calling and a way of life. A commitment to changing lives, shaping society and building the future. What other profession offers such a promise?

Inspite of whatever quick fix or new initiative is thrown at them, despite a prescriptive curriculum, the narrow measures we are judged by and the fear of failure under such limiting judgements great teachers still follow their heart, take a strong moral stance and give their best.  They have a strong moral purpose and operate with a strong moral imperative.

Great teachers take learners to the edge of their comfort zone, they create a world of possibilities, they inspire, motivate and enthuse children.

Great teachers light the fires of passion and curiosity in a positive, uplifting and fulfilling environment. They create an oasis of calm and support in an often chaotic, confusing and disorderly world. They have great interpersonal skills and build relationships with children making everyone of them feel special, raising their confidence and self esteem. You can’t do all this without loving your work. Great teachers love their work it’s more than a job, more than an occupation. It’s a sense of purpose and a way of life.

Mick Waters said education should not simply prepare children for the future, it should also give them the best present possible – a childhood upon which to build the rest of their lives. This is what great teachers do.   In an uncertain, ever changing world where education is used as a political hobby horse, where years of research and work on a curriculum review can be dismissed at the drop of a hat and where those with the least experience in education make the most important decisions, only the brave should teach.