Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Ungradeable gratitude for teachers

This week, across all of England and Wales,teachers are finishing school for a well-earned break. Along with the police, nurses and emergency services they are servants of our society and they deserve our thanks and appreciation. But teachers do more than serve, they also secure a future for our children. Teachers open the minds of the young, developing their curiosity and creativity. They open up subjects, improve employability and build confidence in young people for the adventure of life.

One of the hidden burdens that teachers carry is the result of the damage that many young people carry into school. They come with less family structure and more fragile relationships. They arrive in classrooms carrying tensions from home, uncertainty about their worth and with less experience in how to manage the social complexity of school life. Their emotions and behaviour are being tested by life in ways that earlier generations were not. That keaves today's teachers with more hidden work beyond the curriculum.

 Teachers always try to model a calm and balanced way of dealing with youthful tensions. They manage angry and depressed young people back into balance every day and they suppress their own frustration as they do so. That suppression of personal feelings when under stress (often termed psychological dissonance) is what makes teaching a challenging and vocational profession. The personal sacrifice and exhaustion it involves demands an acute self-discipline and focussed motivation. Their modelling of that balance is perhaps the greatest, unmeasurable, gift that they bring to our society.

So let us thank our teachers this week with an un-gradeable gratitude for the hidden sacrifices of this year in school and let us not begrudge them a good rest and a sense of being recognised and appreciated beyond all targets and grades for the great work they do on behalf of us all.