Imagine a hot dog vendor, who has been going about his way, happily selling his product to happy customers for years on end. Let’s call him Jimmy. Then some shady guy comes along and threatens him. He says, “Jimmy – meat isn’t good for people. You have to start selling vegetarian sausages instead.” Jimmy complains – he knows that this man is a vegan, and doesn’t know anything about hot dogs – hasn’t even tasted one…but what can he do? This is a powerful guy and it wouldn’t take much for him to destroy his whole business, and with it his livelihood.
So now, every day, Jimmy has to walk five miles out of his way to get the particular brand of veggie sausages; he gets up two hours earlier and gets home two hours later. He misses his family – he argues with his wife and kids. Maybe it would be worth it if he was getting results, but no one wants these veggie sausages; people just don’t like them. The new boss doesn’t accept this. He just thinks Jimmy isn’t advertising them well enough, or that he’s not ‘making them right.’ Poor Jimmy is set ridiculous sales targets – targets that he would have struggled with even with business was good. His boss asks him to compile reports. He spends night and after night working on Excel, compiling data to show what he’s already explained…that people just aren’t buying. His boss thinks that these new incentives will force him to up his game and get results; it only leads to Jimmy feeling sad, lonely and unfulfilled.
Some way down the line, after so many failed targets, Jimmy actually begins to doubt himself. Was he ever really that good at selling hot dogs? Was he in the wrong line of work all along? Jimmy goes on for as long as he can, but in the end, he decides that he’s just not good enough anymore and he quits the job that he once loved. He feels like a failure.
Yes, I have a thing for mafia movies. But this analogy sums up how I feel about the education system in the UK. Teachers here are leaving in droves. Why? Because just like Jimmy, they are subject to the whims of people who have little to no experience of what they actually do, or the children that they teach. It’s unbearably sad to see really incredible teachers leaving the profession as a result of this; even more so when they leave, feeling like they weren’t very good teachers in the first place.
If you’re in the business of selling hot dogs, you need years of meat-eating experience behind you. If you’re going to dictate how every teacher teaches and every child learns across the country, then you need to have had years of experience working in state schools. Or at least have a group of advisers who work in state schools.
I really don’t think that’s asking too much.
Because let’s face it. If this doesn’t happen…if we are just at the mercy of one clueless politician after another…then the best we can hope for is job dissatisfaction. Our teachers, and our children, deserve better.