Thoughts on Teaching

It’s been a fair time since I changed my career and gave up full time teaching. I still do a bit of part-time work in schools, but most of my time is devoted to Scartoons nowadays.

One question I get asked regularly is “why did you give up such a fantastic job such as teaching?”

Let’s get one thing straight: teaching itself is a fantastic job. More of a calling, really, than a job. Getting the most out of the next generation, enabling them to reach their potential, is a truly rewarding vocation. Why give it up is a good question. Part of the answer lies in the current state of the English education system today.

Since the move to results-driven education, the emphasis on tests in English and Maths has had a disastrous impact on all other parts of children’s education. I spoke about art to a Year 6 child recently, asking him what sort of art activities his class did over the year. “Art? I think we did a bit in Year 5” he replied.

This move away from creativity is so detrimental and counter-productive to a child’s development, yet I hear about it often.

I’ve been in some wonderful schools, which enrich their children’s education with a wide range of activities outside of the humdrum fact-filling test-orientated diet. Not surprisingly, these schools seem to have happier children, who still do fine on tests.

In a recent business networking session I spoke to the 11 other entrepreneurs in the room – out of the 12 of us, 4 had recently given up teaching. Why had they given up? Most cited the same reasons as I’ve outlined above: the feeling that many schools had become almost exam-factories rather than places where children grew into rounded individuals.

It’s a sad state when so many teachers are disillusioned by this state of affairs.

As for me, I get great rewards from visiting schools and running art and cartoon sessions; I see children come alive, get excited about learning, explore ideas. This is a great incentive to do what I do.

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