Thursday, April 03, 2008

NUT votes for strike action

Teachers' pay and conditions of service are poorer than what those of us in Scotland enjoy, so I can only wish them good luck with that. But I have to say, I do wish my colleagues were less inclined to make the sort of crap arguments that Sarah Donachy makes over at Comment is Worthless. For example:
"How do we raise the aspirations of young people in challenging areas when we can't attract the brightest minds to the professions that are charged with this very aim? How do we keep those few who have taken up the challenge?"
There's a couple of problems I have with this line:

1) Where does she, and others like her, get the idea that the 'brightest minds' are any good at 'motivating' people - or, indeed, necessarily any good at teaching at all? Haven't they noticed that bright people are often a) incurable cynics b) socially incompetent?

2) Even if we could accept that one of the key problems in our education system is a deficit of the aforementioned 'brightest minds', do we really want a whole lot of people who are motivated primarily by money? This is not to say that teaching as a vocation should be seen as a monastic embrace of Holy Poverty or something but this brings me to the third point.

3) Retention can be a problem in certain areas, I would agree - but I have never, ever, heard of anyone either leaving the profession, or say they are considering leaving, and citing low wages as the reason.

None of this is to say the NUT's claim isn't justified but it would be better to stick to arguments that have to do with their wages falling behind the cost of living and the growth in real earnings and boring stuff like that. But typically someone leaves the profession because of general stress, boredom, weariness of having to put up with the bullshit etc. Which brings us to Ms Donachy herself. She says:
"So we're warning you Gordon: the NUT is striking for the first time in a generation and we mean what we say. Put your money where your mouth is. Pay us what we need to live. Give us fair pay for the crucial job we do and reposition teaching as the respected, valued and cherished profession it once was."
They mean what they say - they're going on strike for a whole day! Gordon must be trembling in his boots. On the other hand, he might have good reason to doubt the resolve of people like Sarah Donachy who think it's part of their shift to be told to "fuck off" on a regular basis. She seems to be implying that a pay rise would help restore respect for teachers. I have to say, a pay rise wouldn't raise my opinion of Ms Donachy one iota - but here's a couple of things that would. She could resolve to stop being a doormat. (She lets pupils tell her to "fuck off" - and she's supposed to be an assistant head!? God help us. And we're told she works in a 'challenging' school. Do you really? Finding it 'challenging', are we? That's another thing you could do: cut the crap and stop using these silly euphemisms, will ya?

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