The more I read, discuss and write about what a teacher’s working life is like, the more non-teachers I meet who have some very strange yet detailed views about what teachers should be doing. I’ve learned that this is actually a very big problem in education, because there are more non-teachers than teachers and we are simply outnumbered.
Worse, many of these people are our student’s parents, are our governors or are the policy makers in government. I think it is because everyone has been to school that people think they understand education, how it should be run and that they understand exactly what it is like being a teacher. It’s like saying just because everybody poops, then everybody knows how to install bathroom plumbing.
It’s not only a problem because the policies, schemes and ways of working are designed by people who haven’t a clue, it’s a problem because it undermines teachers’ status in society by a very large amount.
The most common misconceptions are that teachers have a lot of time off: when in reality there is just a lot of work that is expected to be done at home. Also, that teachers need to be ‘pillar of the community’ types and have their personal lives scrutinised in order to determine whether they are good at their jobs.
It also works a long way to the culture of micro-management to the point of advising on what your personality should be like as well. It’s because everyone is constantly barking about what teachers should be doing. Teachers shouldn’t be doing anything, except for being left alone to get on with teaching well.
Do you know anyone with a strong and very misinformed opinion about teaching?