Neil White: Why are we putting new teachers under so much pressure?
I MUST admit that I used to think teachers had it easy. This was borne out of my experience when I was at school.
We were handed out 20-year-old text books by some teachers who clearly didn't vary their lessons much.
However, the very best teachers (or masters as we called them) varied their lessons, making them interactive and entertaining.
Regardless of teachers' style, pupils dare not misbehave for fear of the cane, or the slipper or even a cricket bat.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
I tended to think that the choice of weapon depended on the sadistic tendency of the teacher concerned.
The more reasonable ones would throw a piece of chalk or board rubber at us if we were talking in class or even daydreaming.
According to those who wear rose-tinted spectacles to look into the past, those were the golden days of the state education system.
And it is true that I could understand a book of logarithms by the age of 12, knew the name of every European capital by 11, had mastered my times tables up to 12 by the age of seven.
I was an average student and it was my keenness to avoid any implement being thwacked across my backside or knuckles which drove me just as much as my abilities.
Of course, jails would be full of teachers if they copied the antics of their predecessors nowadays.
They work in an environment where gentle persuasion is the order of the day.
The trouble is that bullish 15-year-old boys don't always respond to gentle persuasion.
Thus, they can become disruptive and take up a disproportionate amount of the tutor's time.
Frustratingly, such a situation is often a young teacher's undoing.
I was startled to learn that trainee teachers have to prove that they have had positive interaction with every member of their class during a 70-minute period.
Just have a think about that.
If there are more than 30 children in the class and just one of them is disruptive, how can it possibly be achieved?
I know of one trainee teacher who was marked down because he could prove that every pupil except one had advanced during one lesson.
Personally, I spent seven years at senior school trying to avoid any interaction with a teacher and most of my friends were the same.
I would have pitied anyone who would have been measured on our reaction.
Now, apparently, teachers have to have a learning target for each lesson and write that on the board. At the end, they have to write up what has been achieved.
If newly qualified teachers fail in these arenas then they can fail their overall assessments.
If they do not pass their first year at school then they are not allowed to teach in this country ever again.
Nobody takes into account that they are new to the workplace, are probably in a new city and are suddenly faced with hordes of kids' scenting weakness.
It doesn't seem fair, let alone such an easy job after all. Perhaps they do deserve their holidays!