Them and us…

I was invited to a slightly posh party just before Christmas. The hosts are lovely people; he is something or other in The City and I don’t know what she does. It became known that I teach, but to my surprise, no one said, “How unfortunate. How did that happen?” They may still have been thinking it…

I don’t feel particularly comfortable in smart society and I ended up talking most to a couple who – you guessed it – turned out to be retired teachers, who appeared to be feeling the same. On the other hand, given the polarity of British society, I/we probably have more in common with such people than those we are supposed to be engineering – ahem, I mean whose opportunities we are meant to be improving. Is there any reason why teachers sometimes seem to perceive themselves as plebs, or why the job confers that feeling? Not a comfortable fence to sit on.

Here’s some cheerful news to start the new term. Last month I set up a poll to gauge the self-perceived impact of teaching on people’s wider lives. Of the 85 page hits, only twenty people committed to voting, far short of what I had hoped, so this hardly constitutes a sample size of any use at all.

However, of that twenty 14 (70%, if that is meaningful) replied that their work detracts from their overall wellbeing, Four (20%) said that it enhances it and two (10%) said it did neither. Given that over 75% of viewers did not vote and the consequently small sample size I am going to add no further comment, so make of it what you will. I wonder what the other party-goers would have said about their lives.

More generally, visits to my blog were modestly up on 2014, as was feedback (significantly) from readers. Numbers remain small compared to some blogs, but I do not wish to use Twitter. I won’t add my thoughts about the self-proclaimed ‘most-read edu-blog’ whose author seems to add Tweet This sound bites at the end of every other paragraph!

I was chided recently (not on the blog) for not being clear about which camp I sit in. The answer is none! Is it really helpful to see education (or indeed life in general) in such factional terms? This seems to be an endemic part of life in Britain, and I fear it creates more problems than it solves. Surely in education at least, there is more that unites than divides us.

I am reminded of the words of A.A. Milne:

“The third-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the majority. The second-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the minority. The first-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking.”

A good maxim for a new year.


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