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Why I now understand teachers' viewpoint

PUBLISHED: 11:06 25 April 2008 | UPDATED: 20:13 05 July 2010

WHEN I was at school, if a rumour went round hinting at the exciting possibility of a teacher's strike, my first thought was “Brilliant, a day off!”

Too young to comprehend that perhaps there was an element of politics involved and that the reasoning behind a strike was more than just a group of professionals fancying some time off, pupils may just think it's as simple as the chance to have a lay in.

WHEN I was at school, if a rumour went round hinting at the exciting possibility of a teacher's strike, my first thought was “Brilliant, a day off!”

Too young to comprehend that perhaps there was an element of politics involved and that the reasoning behind a strike was more than just a group of professionals fancying some time off, pupils may just think it's as simple as the chance to have a lay in.

But now I'm older and preparing to embark on a professional career myself, thoughts turn to realities of the big wide world, and of course the one thing that makes the world go around - money.

When I was of school age, school simply meant learning, homework and friends. But now I can look back, I realise teachers are so much more than just an educator. They take the place of a tutor, a mentor, a confidante, and in some cases, a parental figure. With constant pressure of government targets and the stresses of increasing bad behavior from children within their classrooms, teachers are unappreciated and undervalued.

Of course a strike is inconvenient. But the beauty of our democracy is that unions have this vital right to make a stand and in alliance with other skilled individuals, make the government realise that they're not happy and want to get their point across. The prospect of performance-related pay is just one aspect which belittles teachers - how can anyone have a clear mind to teach children when such pressure is on their shoulders?

We desperately need to attract high caliber people to the teaching profession, to reward people for working in perhaps the most valuable service in our country and to turn round the demoralisation that teachers face.

It's terrible that teachers should have to take such direct action to get the message across, but it seems that they do. But of course the government will say that they cannot afford to pay teachers more - they're too busy building for the Olympics and fighting wars.


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