Friday, 18 November 2016

Class Act

Although there are exceptions the teaching trade – I hesitate to use the word profession - is dominated by leftward-thinking types. Their principal union does them few favours in representing their concerns to the masses and as public servants in the main we ought to expect better of them. Yesterday the NUT were descending on Whitehall for a march and rally to protest and agree with each other about their truly dreadful plight.

Their issues? Class sizes, reduced subject choice and the provision of teaching support staff. Their solution? To demand more money from the already overspent public purse. Of course, no problem, we’ll get right to it. While we’re at it, we actual taxpayers may as well give generously to help out the police, security and armed forces, the NHS local authorities and their burgeoning diversity division, and if we each grab a bag of gravel we could fill in a few potholes on the way. More money, of course! Why didn’t we think of it before.

The revolting teachers and their ilk never seem to stop and think for a moment from whence come their increased class sizes and the need for extra support. Just possibly, opening the doors to a flood of not just workers but their entire extended families might place a strain on resources. Pandering to a touchy-feely, all-must-have-prizes culture may introduce an extra mental burden of make believe to overcome the cognitive dissonance of daily having to face the absurdity of imagining that all actually deserve those awards. And is it not conceivable that their sometimes proud boast that pupils speak fifty different languages is at the same time a statement of inclusivity and an acknowledgement that open borders has brought the curse of Babel upon them?

The left don’t need enemies; they are self-sustaining in that regard, but I guess we all fail the see-ourselves-as-others-see-us test at some time, if not all the time. I like to think I keep myself in trim but when I look in the mirror of a morning I often see a stranger peering back at me. Sometimes it helps if I don’t put my glasses on and grope about blindly for a bit instead of confronting the sharp focus of reality. But every now and then we have to confront uncomfortable truths about ourselves and thinking about the teachers must have stirred up some early memories of my own school days.

I visited the dentist yesterday. While waiting for my first appointment in the reception room of a new practice, I was perusing the certificates on the wall. One of them had a familiar name and as I trawled through my memory I recalled a popular classmate. This certificate had his exact-same name and as I waited I began to anticipate meeting somebody I hadn’t seen for over fifty years. Alfie Smith; he’d been a tall, handsome lad, played for the school footie team, popular with the girls I remembered. But as the treatment room door opened I began to have doubts.

A stooped, balding man with a deeply-lined face and enormously thick glasses called my name, introduced himself as Mr Smith and invited me in. He looked nothing like the boy I remembered. During the check-up I asked him if he’d been at the local school. He said that yes, he had been. I asked what years he had attended and sure enough he’d been there at the same time as me. I said as much “That was when I was there,” I revealed. “I know you; I remember you from my class!” He looked at me closely for a minute, his eyes screwed up as he tried to roll back the years. Then he asked me, "What did you teach?"

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