There is a moment for every new teacher: the NQT with energy, enthusiasm and high aspirations, leaves the rarified air of the training experience and lands on Planet School. And suddenly you walk into an atmosphere that seems unable to sustain life, let alone learning.
But this is what New Teachers are fed as soon as they born, like some hideous Matrix, or Brave New World: don‘t expect too much; accept bad behaviour; let them get away with it; the kids can’t help it. It’s pathetic; it’s an absurd, surreal inversion of what we came here to do, and it’s such a clear assault on the way children should be raised and educated that it could be reasonably claimed to fall under the definition of child abuse.
Children start off knowing next to nothing about the world (apologies to the Continental Rationalists); they learn almost everything from…us. From their parents, peers and educators. If they are taught that cussing a teacher is acceptable, then they will do it when they please. And it may please them to do it a lot. So even if the parents haven’t set boundaries for them, we bloody well can- and should. And must. Deep down, most of them want us to do it- they crave boundaries, and security, and certainty, especially if their home lives are chaotic and barren. They might not realise it, but that’s what they need.
And if they don’t realise it, so what? It’s our job to provide it, because we are adults, and trained professionals, educators and mentors. It’s our role and our responsibility to provide boundaries and rules for them. And in that partially controlled, safe environment, we provide a climbing frame to make them more free than they could have possibly imagined. We restrict them to give them liberty, despite the apparent absurdity of that statement.
Any adult in any way engaged in the business of educating children needs to get on the bus with that very basic premise; and if they’re not prepared to do so, then it is they who should get off the bus and start looking for jobs in Tesco. It isn’t the ambitious, hard working teachers who actually have an intuitive understanding of what children need in order to succeed who should be shown the door, but the flaccid, workshy fops whose only ambition seems to be to make it to the end of their careers with as little contact with children as possible.
If an NQT doesn’t get this basic level of support then they should push the eject button and go somewhere that deserves to have them, because schools that don’t support their teachers should be drained of staff until they collapse like pub Jenga.