I’m sure all teachers must have this experience – overhearing teaching, schools, education etc being discussed on the next table in a cafe or pub. Sometimes what you hear is fascinating or pleasing…  more often, dispiriting or infuriating.

Here are some recent samples:-

Grandma to age 11/12 granddaughter: “Are your teachers fairly bright?”   Now I am sure if the child had reason to think any of her teachers were a bit dim (and let’s be honest, once she’s a teenager, she probably will think that anyway), she’d have decided that without grandma’s intervention. I suspect the net result of this will be to put doubts in her mind where there was no reason for them.  Seems an odd thing to ask a kid of that age, too – easier to judge such things when you are older.

Dad to 13-14 year old daughter “Well, it’s all down to the teacher – that’ll be why you don’t like Latin”. Well, of course a poor teacher can put a child off (though I had 3 dire maths teachers and always loved the subject, so it’s not invariable). But really – would it be natural for a child automatically to love all subjects if it weren’t for those evil teachers putting them off? If the majority of the class like a subject, but a few don’t, is it not more likely that they, like adults, are individuals with tastes and preferences?  And don’t even start me on the idea of encouraging kids to blame the teacher…

Auntie to 10 year old twins out shopping for the new school year “what’s the good of a scientific calculator? Why do they make you get that? You’ll never need all those buttons!”. Just one word. Aaarghhh!

Parents discussing their daughter’s A-level options after GCSE results “I can’t see why they don’t want her to take Maths – she got her GCSE grade C in it – it’s just snobbishness wanting more”.  Why do parents find it so hard to see that we are actually trying to look out for their child, and that years of experience do actually give us some idea what we are talking about? No, it’s not about protecting our academic record – one fail grade amongst many good grades will not spell disaster for us, but it would seriously affect your daughter’s future.  Honestly, we are trying to help.

Father talking to daughter after A-level results “Surely the school can get you in somewhere by calling up? That’s their job, particularly as they didn’t get you the grades!” To her credit, the daughter did try to explain that she had to go through Clearing herself. I so wanted to say – our job is education, advice and guidance. Our job is not getting you grades, jobs or university places. We are here to give you the support and teaching to enable you to make the most of your talents, and to get the grades and offers that your ability and industry warrant – not less, but also not more.

A nice one to end on:

Two mothers discussing their children’s school “You can see they really care about the kids, the way they talk about them. “. Yes – most of us do, you know, some to a huge degree. Lovely that people recognise it.

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