Kidult Teachers

Ok, deep breaths – this one is a little controversial. But I’m going to give it an airing.

Here are some behaviours I’ve seen from adults – qualified professionals – during meetings and training and online as I’ve gone through my career:-

  1. Reading a newspaper during Inset.
  2. Making bets online during Inset.
  3. Doing Tesco shopping online during Inset and in one case, during a lesson.
  4. Texting during meetings and Inset.
  5. Chatting over the person leading the meeting/Inset session.
  6. Ridiculing the person leading the meeting/Inset session online and in the staff room.
  7. Arriving late.
  8. Leaving the meeting midway to get a coffee or take a non urgent phone call.

Now it seems to me that sometimes, it’s these same people who demand that children:-

  1. Show respect simply because the person in front of them is in a position of authority over them.
  2. Put their phones away during lessons or for the whole of the school day.
  3. Pay attention and don’t chat when others are talking.
  4. Show respect even when what they are hearing bores them or feels irrelevant.
  5. Don’t answer back or ask awkward questions.

Now I’m not suggesting that any of those expectations of children are unreasonable. They are reasonable expectations of all human beings really – especially those who have matured and who are educated. So why do some people find it so hard to model the behaviour they expect from others?

There. At least it was short.

12 thoughts on “Kidult Teachers

  1. Before becoming a teacher I worked in retail, sales and then publishing. Trust me this behaviour can be found in most meetings, training sessions and on conference days. Adults do have a very do as I say not as I do blind spot. They should watch back a video’d session of an inset day (as we once did of a sales training session) it is excruciating watching for all but the most professional.

  2. I sometimes run training sessions for teachers. Mjost are brilliant and pay full attention and get a lot from the training. But some do sit there chatting despite it obviously not being appropriate, and playing on their phones. One chap once played on his phone through the entire session (and I know it was a game because I walked round behind him at one point to see what he was doing),. and then scored me 1 out of 5 for the session and left a comment that the training was not very effective and he didn’t learn much.

  3. So much truth! I don’t mind doodling or a *bit* of texting, I don’t even mind a touch of apathy as I appreciate what I train on is not to everyone’s philosophy but rudeness never called for. Another common experience is teachers using the session to air the grievances with school leadership, using me as the deeply uncomfortable proxy e.g. “Well sure, it sounds good but we can’t do this when we are never given any time”. Excruciating.

  4. Thanks, Debra. I believe this is a really important issue to air. Your point about modelling behaviour lies at the heart of the matter. My grandson, fresh recruit to high school in September passed, would have a few things to say about the antics you describe, and rightly so. There is a ‘time for every season under heaven’ and when apparently professionally trained, committed educators behave in this way, we have a long way still to travel if we accept the need to inspire and motivate those in our care.

  5. I experienced brilliant training where I learned an huge amount and rubbish training that was irrelevant or boring (the worst never seemed to mention children), but whilst I could be critical in feed back I hope I was always courteous and constructive. I observed some truly awful behaviour from so called mature people and could add to the list with people who objected to being refused time off for routine dental appointments but never for emergency treatment and leaving a class for non essential phone calls. I could add a few others but like Debra I’ll keep it short.

  6. Sorry Debra, I don’t think you have thought this through. It is more complicated than that. First, the behaviours from children that you think are unreasonable.

    “1. Show respect simply because the person in front of them is in a position of authority over them.”
    Surely children and adults should show respect to everybody. A homeless person on a bench is just as demanding of the respect of a child as a teacher. The special role of the teacher that demands respect comes not from being an ‘authority figure’, but from recognition of the classroom conventions that teachers (and other children) should be listened to, and that the direct instructions of teachers should be followed (but only if not dangerous or unreasonable). A child should not respect the direction of a teacher to ‘hit back’ another child, who was poking him in the back.

    2, 3 and 4 are fine.

    “5. Don’t answer back or ask awkward questions.”

    I can’t believe you mean this. ‘Asking awkward questions’ demonstrates depth of understanding. Such questions should provoke joy on the part of the teacher. For example the question, ‘ If humans are descended from apes, why are there still chimpanzees?’, during a science lesson on evolution, should cause the teacher to break into a jig of ecstasy and dance around the classroom, before answering, ‘ humans are not descended from apes, humans and chimpanzees are different species of apes. Also, what about the child who questions the RE teacher, ‘If you go to heaven for eternity when you die, how old are you for eternity? Does a dead baby stay a baby, or is it allowed to grow up and if so, at what age does this stop for eternity?’ I can guarantee that if the RE teacher is RC, in an RC school, this will cause discomfort to the teacher, but I am with the plucky child.

    Then we come to INSET. The appropriate response of teachers depends on the nature of the INSET. I recall an INSET session about the now utterly discredited, ‘preferred learning styles (visual, aural, kineasthetic etc)’. The only thing I regret was not having the courage, or being too polite, to debunk it at the time.

    Teachers are professional educators, not ‘educational operatives’ and they should (respectfully) make this clear during INSET sessions.

    Then there is the garbage that the DfE pays ‘training companies’ or free-lance ‘trainers’ to promulgate. See this article.

    My comments in this article are based on the OfSTED ‘Inspection Data Summary Reports’ (IDSR), which were received by all English primary schools by January 2018.

    I realise how tricky this is for teachers and heads. It may be garbage, but if schools don’t go along with it then they will be failed by OfSTED. The head and many of the teachers will lose their jobs, and the poor children will be engulfed by wretched academisation under which they may be subjected to much worse educational ignorance and authoritarianism.

    Its not simple is it?

    1. No it’s not. Though none of those points were mine – they were things I’d heard others say. I was merely pointing out the hypocrisy of saying them and not acting them. Have a good weekend.

Leave a Reply