Those who can’t do, teach. Right?


Teaching on a good day

Those who can’t do, teach. People who are able to do something well can do that thing for a living, while people who are not able to do anything that well make a living by teaching.” (Used to disparage teachers. From George Bernard Shaw’s Man and Superman.)

I hate that statement. It’s not funny, nor is it clever. It implies that practical people get out in the real world and contribute in a practical way, while teachers take the easy way out – our contribution is limited to academia at best.

Here’s the thing: teachers aren’t simply educators (although if we were, would that be such a bad thing? Lets face it: everyone goes to school. Somebody is responsible for educating Einstein and Bill Gates). No, teachers are more than educators. I have found that teaching is a deeply rewarding career, but so much of what I do, the skills I use, were never taught to me at university. Nobody warned me that I would need to be able to juggle a number of ‘hats’.

A less good day…

I wear many hats: referee, nurse, counselor, advocate, mediator, entertainer, negotiator, and paper pusher. I provide guidance, a shoulder to cry on, ears that listen when feelings are hurt. I break up fights. I give First Aid when needed. I tell them that zits will pass and inner beauty is a lasting quality.

I help teenage girls with their ‘boy problems’ and teenage boys with their ‘girl problems’. I liaise with parents. I plan lessons that are intended to engage students.  There are days where I feel more like a prison warden who would gratefully accept danger money, but in general, the good far outweighs the bad. (Actually, there are days where I feel like the circus ringmaster, the chief zookeeper, but that’s another story.) I do all of the above and more, whilst juggling bureaucratic rubbish, finding new ways to keep Shakespeare relevant and explaining that if your future career in the NRL falls through, you may need a backup plan.

I am a student myself, as teachers constantly undertake professional development where WE are educated and informed about the absolute latest methods involved in all areas of teaching.

People whine about the perks us ‘bludgers’ who are ‘always on strike for more money’ get – the 9am-3: 30pm day. The 12 weeks of holidays a year. Oh life is sweet and easy when you’re a teacher. Right?

During those holidays, teachers will spend a large amount of time dedicated to schoolwork – whether it be writing programs, writing reports, or marking and correcting an endless pile of essays, that is time that is not used for leisure.

As for the misnomer that we have a cruisy 9am-3pm day? Untrue. Faculty meetings, staff meetings, welfare meetings, senior team meetings keep us back long after 3pm. We arrive well before 9am. Many of my colleagues have a 2-hour commute to get to work by 8:30am.  And when we get home, the schoolwork is not over. We plan lessons, mark and continue to work on professional development.

I am not complaining. I happen to love my job and think it’s the absolute bee’s knees. But I am thoroughly sick of the stereotype that we are lazy, or that we have it ‘easy’. The idea that I chose to become a teacher due to the ‘lengthy’ holidays and short working week is extremely insulting.

I became a teacher because I like working with people – and that includes teenagers. I love seeing a light bulb switch on when a student grasps a new concept for the first time.

I personally remember certain highschool teachers as being some of the most influential people in my life, when times were rough and I was uncertain of what to do with myself. Their advice and patience was nothing short of inspirational. If I can provide even one child with the reassurance and care that was given to me, then I have done my job.

Do you think teaching is easy? Would you consider being a teacher? 

  • John James

    All I know is that I couldn’t hack it as a teacher…so from my perspective it’s:

    Those who can, Teach – Those who can’t, do something easier…

  • Jessica Chapman

    My father and sister are both teachers, and they are the two most hard working people I know. While we were growing up my dad usually left for work before 7 am and very rarely came home before 7 pm. That’s not a short working day, that’s a 12 hour day! My sister’s pretty much the same, I’m staying with her at the moment and she spent last night marking exams. If either of them were pulling those hours and that much work in any other career they would be making tonnes more money than they are now, but instead of choosing to go into a lucrative and well respected career they chose to dedicate their lives to teaching kids.

    I understand that not all teachers are as hard-working as them and like any profession there are some who aren’t that great at their jobs but I haven’t met one teacher who chose to be one because they thought it would be easy, they chose it because they wanted to help children become the best adults they can be.

    The thing that really annoys me is that generally when people complain about teachers ‘long’ holidays, it’s usually in the same sentence as them complaining about how tiring it is to look after their kids during the holidays. I feel like saying, well times your children by thirty, imagine looking after them every day, and trying to make any thing you do with them educational and maybe you might understand why teachers need a break from the classroom.

    I could never be a teacher myself, mainly because I get really frustrated and cranky when I try to explain something and some one doesn’t understand. I think that might be rule one for being a good teacher.

  • Tamsin Howse

    Teachers are so underpaid and undervalued. The entire future of our society rests upon their shoulders – surely that’s more valuable than anything else we could spend our money on.