Friday, 11 October 2013

Educating Yorkshire and emotional teaching

I do not normally watch programmes on television about education. I spend all day at the chalkface and like a little variety, so ordinarily stories about schools are on the last resort list.

That said, Educating Yorkshire is completely compelling, and has, without exception, made me cry every week. I love those students, and it is obvious that their teachers love them too. And that is the crux of the 'I do not know how you do your job' conundrum. Teachers teach their students well because they love them. I am lucky enough to work in a school in which OFSTED inspectors said as much in their report about our work, but it is true the world over. It is impossible to teach anyone anything without love.

This week, Mr Steer, Deputy Head Teacher of Thornhill Academy, was seen dragging his leg behind him through the corridors, afflicted by some awful allergy. He did not take time off work because there was an exam on that week, and, as every teacher knows, time off work affects your students. Time off work, incidentally, is not time off work, because you spend your time at home setting the work to be done and worrying. Teaching and parenthood have many similarities. Some people might watch Mr Steer at Thornhill and think he is the exception to the teacher-sickness-dedication rule. Not so. In every school across the country there are teachers who care so much about the people that they teach that they will do anything to help them achieve their potential. Many people, when they choose to teach, choose to give their lives to the job they do.

Educating Yorkshire makes me cry every single week because it is all so familiar. The struggles, battles, victories, tears, laughter and joy are all in there. They have even shown the challenging moments when students are affected by devastating family circumstances and teachers attempt to help teenagers grieve, process anger or seek justice. I have never seen a programme so accurately reflect the day to day reality of spending daily life with a community of young teenagers. I should also mention that, in my experience, although teachers often help children grieve the loss of a loved one, the reverse is also true, and when a teacher loses someone, students are also good at helping an adult through this process. Teachers and students spend more of their waking hours together then either party spends with their family, so that is not so strange. Educating Yorkshire inspires me.  I have never seen a programme that so carefully reflects the dynamic relationship between teacher and pupil, everything from 'I hate effing Geography and I hate yer...' to 'I didn't think I could do it, and I went and did it,  and I got an A. I am an effing genius.' That's what it is all about. It is the reason I get up in the morning. It is one of the many reasons I am glad to get up in the morning.

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