Give Teachers A Break


Hey, politician/meeja person.

Leave those teachers alone.

Martin McMahon writes:

This week a collective sigh of relief escapes the tortured throats of parents the length and breadth of the country.

Throats hoarse from answering endless questions, issuing cautions and calling little Jack or Katie to get up from, or go to, bed. Work schedule disruption, childminders and the drive to keep your little darlings constructively occupied, all add to the extra workload of summer holidays. They may be hazy days but they sure aren’t lazy days.

It is during the summer holidays that we get to experience the bundles of energy the little ones have really become, or the hormonal roller coaster our teens are on.

That pre-holiday routine of school drops and regular meal and bed times is shot to hell. You haven’t had a quiet evening to goof off in front of the TV for almost two months.

The sometimes chaotic holidays are over, one day this week the uniform will be donned and children will return to school. The change from free spirits to students takes place in the classroom, away from parents, with minimum fuss and disruption.

A week from now the holidays will be a distant memory and scrambling for ‘things to do’ with the kids no longer top of the agenda. For most of us this transition comes easy, it comes easy because we play a very small part in it, the real horse work is done by teachers.

Hardly a week goes by where teachers escape a bashing in the ‘Meeja’. For decades they’ve been an easy target. Sometimes the critics focus on wages but mostly it’s the holidays. Teachers are not paid well, let’s get that out of the way.

If you’ve ever paid for pre-school you know that childminding doesn’t come cheap. You could pay a mortgage on what it costs to put your children in pre-school and then you spend the day worrying that they’re not getting the standard of care you’ve paid for.

In contrast, you can drop your children off at school, for free (theoretically), and drive away without a care in the world for little Katie or Jack’s welfare.

Not only will they be ‘minded’ in a way you can trust, for no extra cost, they will receive an education. Do we pay teachers for acting in loco parentis, do we value their labour with our children as we value our own?

This government certainly doesn’t.

Paschal Donohoe excuses a two tier pay system with ‘not enough money for pay restoration’ but Paschal and the other piggies at the trough made damn sure there was enough money to award themselves significant pay rises. Fine Gael are experts at double standards which invariably benefit themselves whilst screwing others.

That leaves ‘holidays’ the only issue to crucify teachers over. Yes, teachers do have holidays longer than the average working stiff, as do politicians and judges. Unlike politicians or judges, teachers spend their working day exclusively taking care of your most precious assets.

They don’t get to retire at 50 like Gardai, there is no consideration given to the stress of safely managing 30 or more children day after day. That sense of exhaustion you feel at the end of your children’s summer holidays is nothing compared to the exhaustion a teacher experiences near the end of term having ‘minded’ multiples of the number of children that exhausted you.

So the next time you hear “Bloody Teachers” remember we are bloody lucky to have them.

Martin blogs at RamshornRepublic



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22 thoughts on “Give Teachers A Break

  1. Gooch Gooch Gooch

    Teachers chose teaching. They didn’t stumble upon the career after a number of other failed choices, they weren’t forced into the role as a last resort in order to put a feed on the table. Every teacher who chose education as a career choice knew exactly what the role entailed. They knew the rates of pay. They did teaching practice. At no point was the exit door locked.

    I literally cannot think of another profession that complains about the hours, the kids, the drama, the pay as much as teachers. Why become a teacher so? I know primary school teachers who finish most days anywhere between 2pm and 4pm. I know secondary teachers who joke about how handy the job is.

    Give over.

  2. newsjustin

    “the real horse work is done by teachers.”

    No it isn’t.

    Teaching is a job. It has upsides and downsides like any other profession.

    The fact is, the only couple (of my generation) that I know who have bought their own house in their 20s and go on at least 2 holidays a year are both teachers.

    1. Quisling

      Maybe they’re just good with money?

      I’m not a teacher. And I like my 2-3 holidays a year also. That’s what I choose to spend my money on.
      Last I checked, teachers don’t need to wear sackcloth and ashes and can spend their salaries how they see fit.

      As to the drama: you try job satisfaction when you’re constantly considered lazy or freeloading by the parents, public opinion, your government …

      Teaching isn’t a job. It’s a vocation. And it’s damn hard. It’s all-consuming for the school year which is why the year is short – no sneaky internet time, no water cooler chats with colleagues. It is VERY hard work giving children the education that they need (if they don’t get it, blame the teachers!), maintaining discipline in a classroom when you can do no more than rebuke them (disciplinary action against the teacher!), or keeping up with standards in education (they’re out of touch!), or even preventing little clumsy Jack or Katie from clocking their head off a random piece of furniture or school equipment (SUE THE SCHOOL).

      Yes, some of them are lazy asses and ruin it for the rest. The majority of teachers I know are dedicated, hard-working people still at their desks at 10pm correcting 30 essays, or preparing the next week’s quizzes, and so on.

      Look on teachers as doing 12 months work in 6. If it was so easy, why isn’t everyone doing it?

      1. MoyestWithExcitement

        +1 The complaints about teachers are always emotional. When someone whines about teachers, they’re making quite a loud statement about themselves. People who complain about teachers are to be pitied, more than anything.

        1. Gooch Gooch Gooch

          Why? Someone makes a complaint, and states an opinion but because they digress with your own views it’s all of a sudden a reflection of their personality and they’re to be pitied?

          Can I have an opinion on the Gardai? Politics? Immigrants?

          Give me the heads up there so I can keep myself in check.

        2. Topsy

          + 1000.
          Many who complain are simply mean spirited & envious. Others are simply begrudgers and not intelligent enough to get a place to do teacher training.

        1. Quisling

          Hah! On re-reading I can see how you’d think that. But no – friends & family only. I nearly was and am not sorry to have chosen a different path!

      2. ahjayzis

        “Look on teachers as doing 12 months work in 6. If it was so easy, why isn’t everyone doing it?”

        No, I won’t, because I actually know a few and know that’s bullshit.

        It’s mad how you clearly know absolutely nothing about other jobs in other professions.

    1. Harry Molloy

      depends where you live and you’re not handed that out of college, you usually have to do a few years getting as many part time hours as you can before you find a school that will give you full time hours. And after that you have to keep those hours at that school for two years before you get made permanent and start on the salary scale.

      and if you don’t get kept on for two years your back to square one, ditto if you want to move schools.

      it’s probably a human condition most of us have to always assume someone else has it easy in their job (not saying this is you)

  3. ahjayzis

    “Yes, teachers do have holidays longer than the average working stiff”

    Or the average teacher in most other countries, to be fair.

  4. phil

    Martin is right, when we tear down all the catholic statues, we should replace them with statues of teachers, and another thing we should allow teachers career breaks, some sort of system where their position is held for them and they can do a term or two in government and sort this country out…

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