OPINION: A lesson in appreciation

Life as I know it, with Lesley Apps

SCHOOL teachers cop a lot of flak considering they are generally underpaid for what they do. You know, they teach stuff and, oh yeah, practically bring up your children.

But they get all those holidays I hear you cry? And they only work 9 to 3?

Well unless they can plan a week's worth of interesting and engaging lessons and mark Year 11 biology papers while they are on the toilet, they do dedicate a fair whack of their 'spare' time, including those holidays and most weekends, to performing such tasks. Sure the more conscientious the teacher the more time they spend doing that, but that applies to all professions and there are dud employees in just about every field as far as I've encountered. It's not like teachers are paving the way in that department of public service world.

As far as the actual educating bit goes, forget the academic nature of the job, that's seems to be bare bones nature of the role these days. Now it's a degree in psychology a teacher needs to possess to navigate the minefield of personality and behavioural disorders, allergies, special requirements, mental health issues and generally whatever goes down at each kid's house each night.

Then when they think it can't get any worse, they quite often have to deal with the producers, aka the parents. While not all mums and dads think teachers are morons who have no idea how special your child is, there is a fair bit of demand and ownership placed upon these somewhat under-appreciated individuals who are almost expected to guarantee our kids have the best chance to be happy and healthy contributing members of society.

While this may sound harsh, having snippets relayed from friends in the profession cumulatively over a period of some years, usually in the presence of a few medicinal vinos, the image created in Dead Poet's Society and To Sir With Love looks decidedly fantastical compared to some of the obstacles they face in their day to day practice.

Thankfully there are still some aspiring (crazy) people out there who are willing to take on this noble profession with visions of educating and inspiring young minds.

Teaching is the kind of 'job' that has a direct impact on the future of a society and the patchwork of communities that inhabit it, so with that in mind it's high time teachers were elevated to the same league and pay packets as say brain surgeons.

God knows they are virtually expected to be those too these days.



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