With all the recent campaigning for the election I wonder how many teachers absconded from the classroom for a day or two to get involved?

It would be considered shocking in this country to have teachers absent from the classroom because they were busy campaigning. Yet it seems to be quite acceptable if you teach in India, according to this article in The Economist.

It suggests that this is part of the reason why pupils are failing to learn despite record numbers attending school. In one of the schools described there are a total of three teachers but one is ‘off sick’ and the other, the head teacher, is absent because of ‘work to do’. It’s suggested that about a quarter of teachers are absent when they should be in the classroom, often engaged in political work. And this is indicative of the professionalism some of the teachers show towards their role as educators.

When you read about practice like this it makes you realise how lucky we are to have the professional commitment from the teachers in this country. Indeed, it is what we have come to expect.

It is rare for teachers to be absent during term time, rare for a teacher to ever ‘throw a sickie’ as happens in other forms of employment, and most would drag themselves into school however ill, not wanting to let the children or their colleagues down and do their utmost to avoid missing a day. This is the level of devotion and professionalism most teachers show.

But it is perhaps taken for granted. What parents often see instead is a cushy job, with decent pay, and plenty of holidays.

It might have been like that in the 1950s but it certainly is not now. It’s a high intensity, stressful and mentally strenuous occupation. The teachers are often sandwiched between the judgements of parents and the demands of Ofsted. Never mind coping with challenging children who often haven’t been parented in a way that helps!

The teachers’ so-called holidays and weekends are taken up with planning, keeping abreast of new schemes and strategies, research and record keeping, rather than the much needed time for recovery from the stresses.

Eventually, for some, what starts out as a vocation, becomes a dread as the demand on teachers increase with each political upheaval.

If this were an exaggeration and weren’t the case then we wouldn’t have the serious shortage of teachers that we have now and the rapid rise of them leaving the profession.

So in comparison to the behaviour of some of the teachers in India we could perhaps take a moment to consider how lucky our children are, whatever concerns we may have towards the politics of the system. And make sure those teachers who deserve it know they have our respect.



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