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Thursday, 13 June 2013


I took a break after Tuesday to put up pics for Wordless Wednesday as I've been taking garden photos without editing/publishing.

Now to return to the Monday topic.

Anyone who taught in comps from 1970s onwards saw changes, but most just added to workload, brought in classroom problems and made the job harder.

Did I 'live for work' or 'work for a living'? The former was true enough in the 70s the latter became the norm from the 80s onwards. I became trapped in a job that had been satisfying and occasionally rewarding. By the time I was granted early retirement it had become debilitating mental and physical drudgery.

1970s transition from secondary school to comprehensive...leavening the lump. We had streaming HUY top, TON middle and SL those with learning difficulties.
S classes were ESN educationally sub-normal whilst L were SSN severely sub-normal. Political correctness had yet to arrive. At least for S and L classes you knew there would be smaller classes with the smallest numbers in L. No teaching assistants, no special training 'get in there and get on with it'. Those kids had Uncle Norm (Norman) who was 'caretaker' for all S and L pupils. Their liking and respect for him was apparent. If he had 'free' time he'd look in on SL classes if young female staff had them. He became Uncle Norm to younger teachers too.

No such thing as 'no smoking' and Uncle Norm smoked his pipe in the staffroom. At break and lunchtime there was wall-to-wall smoke from ready-mades, roll-ups and our pipe smoker. A few brought packed lunch, a few opted for dinner duty, others headed for the VIth form canteen. When the school inspector turned up he too went to that canteen, the only difference being he had 'waitress' service. If only we'd kept guys like him, he did a superb job. I've never forgot him saying to us that there ought never to be any meetings after school. As he said 'anyone who teaches properly has nothing left by the time pupils go home'.

During the first couple of years the Deputy Head (Miss C) stood in for the Head; (Mr. W) was dying of cancer.

There were 1200 pupils on roll and the corridors were safe to walk down. We had a teacher return after a back operation, she walked to and from her room without risk of being jostled. She'd been time-tabled to work in her own room. The younger and newer you were, the more peripatetic one became. You could be at one end of the school for a lesson and the next at the opposite end of the building. 

Take a look at Plater's Beiderbecke Trilogy. 
Better still, read the books.

Of course there was no proper idea of 'equality' in the 70s and some practices would be frowned upon today.
We had two Deputy Heads, one in charge of curriculum and the other looked after time-tabling. The latter was what today would be called 'sexist'. He was in charge of the relief time-tabling as in sending people to cover other classes when the need arose.
Younger female teachers were his 'prey'; he'd stride up and say, 'Ah. my dear, you would appear to be free.' Then send you to cover a waiting class. Young male teachers lost less preparation time because they were rarely asked to cover.
Another practice that would be frowned on and quite rightly so was the Friday lunchtime visit to the pub. P.E. staff and younger staff went in several cars to a pub for a pint and toasties. One young languages teacher tended to drink pints of larger, fortunately her classroom was near a set of staff 'facilities'. She became the talk of the staff-room, not because of imbibing, but because she went with students and staff on a French trip and failed to return, deciding to stay in France!


Sayre said...

Interesting stuff! The decline in the allure of teaching has happened here too. Thankfully, there are still people willing to do it, and some are quite wonderful at it. A friend of mine teaches teens - a time fraught with drama, and she makes it fun. Her students LOVE her. But the stress of working in our system does take its toll, and she consoles herself with bourbon and coke and a pack of cigarettes each night, too exhausted to have a social life or a boyfriend.

I feel blessed that the next school my son is going to is outside the norm. The teachers are all enthusiastic and love what they do - but the school itself is considered an "alternative" school and limits its enrollment to the benefit of the students. They still have to meet state standards, but they can choose how they go about it, which is wonderful!

joanygee said...

It's refreshing to hear of schools like the next one Z-boy is going to. 70s teaching was enjoyable, standards were kept without the plethora of regulations there are today.

joanygee said...

It's refreshing to hear of schools like the next one Z-boy is going to. 70s teaching was enjoyable, standards were kept without the plethora of regulations there are today.