Send off the clowns

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The teaching profession needs more of a number of things, one of which is dignity.

To the teacher who decides to begin a staff training session with a ‘warm-up’ activity where everyone has to stand and do something foolish, I say, “Stop it.”

And nobody should feel pressured into dressing up as a munchkin for World Book Day. For extroverts, such a practice is entirely self-serving in that it draws attention without encouraging a single child to read a single book. For introverts, it is sheer torture.

And now that I think about it, if you are going to launch a College of Teaching with the promise of a new era of professionalism for teachers in England then don’t decide to have a sing-song in the middle of your first conference. I’ve seen the footage of that and, painful as it was, it contained a glimmer of hope; a modern day hero, dressed in yellow, who dutifully stood up but then proceeded to fiddle with her phone during the whole sorry episode.

Teachers are not clowns. We are not entertainers. Stop it with the dunk-tanks and the custard pies. Just stop it.

It’s time for our profession to take itself more seriously. If we don’t then why would anyone else?


8 thoughts on “Send off the clowns

  1. Completely agree, Greg.

    More and more I think teaching is sliding away from definition. Instead of teaching, we seem to be asked to perform.

    Our most recent staff meeting involved a warm-up activity where we were to outline ‘a fear we had as a child we overcame as adults’. Of the eight of us, four effectively abstained by lying and saying we weren’t afraid of anything. However, one staff member, whom I greatly like as a person as much as a colleague, revealed a shocking secret from her childhood. Instead of warming us up, it sent the whole meeting askew, as understandably, most of us felt horrible for her and as humans, this trumped any want to then talk about how we were embedding Numeracy into our English classes … !

    Let’s not get started on the time we used the end of year Staff Development Day to participate in Laughing Yoga :(.

  2. I cannot thank you enough for this post.Also it is very important for children to see that there are adults who can make up their own minds and especially important for introverted children, who so often feel alone.

  3. I have recently changed profession from Engineering to teaching. A sing-song would never happen at an Engineers conference. In fact I think people would walk out if it happened. Everybody would be focused on networking and finding things (technologies, learnings, companies) who can help improve their businesses.

    In my mind the professional teachers conference should be about sharing the latest evidence-based research which will help you and your students. And of course networking.

  4. I think one of the most insidious examples of kidultism in teaching today is the often-expressed confession of “how much I totally LOVE working with kids”. It is almost a confession that such individuals actually haven’t left their own childhood either.

    Sure we can have regard for our pupils – but it too often gets over-emotional these days…which is why we can’t bear to let them learn by occasionally failing either…

    But then, the official adverts for teaching in the U.K. almost play on the same mentality too, so it is clearly an institutionalised expectation.

  5. Yes, I can do well without conferences with themes of unicorns, ninjas, and teachers referring to themselves as superheroes using their powers for good. Or snapping one’s fingers instead of applauding–who dictated that nonsense?

  6. My kid’s high school physics teacher said to the class that his profession is comedy, he uses physics as his medium. She’s told me some of his jokes, and they are all total groaners.

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