To Strike, or not to Strike…

In three working days I will no longer be a teacher.

Today, many teachers are on strike and – whilst I’m not out in the rain with a placard – I am not in school either. I am on strike.

I nearly didn’t strike. I nearly went in to teach, and get the pay cheque that I will so desperately need when I am out of work next month. My school will find a way to cover my lessons while I am not there. There are very few NUT members at the school, so the idea of Collective Action feels pretty meaningless. The school will continue to run, and no one will really miss me. The school gates will still be open. It would have been easy to go in. It’s the penultimate week of term, so I could have had some fun with the pupils I love. I could have been paid today.

But I am on strike.

Let’s be clear. If teachers have to work 60 hours a week, it no longer affects me. I will not be a teacher at the end of the month.

If teachers won’t be able to retire until they’re far too old to be dealing with the workload, it no longer affects me. I’m effectively retiring from teaching in my 30s.

If teachers have terrible pensions, if they can’t get on the property ladder, if they never find a work-life balance, if they go home (as some of them tell me) and cry through hours of marking and paperwork, if they hate every moment of the job that takes them away from the students they love, it no longer affects me. I am not affected any longer by the constant shifting of goalposts, the endless data input, the patronising hoop-jumping, the Threat of OFSTED. Not anymore. I’m out of there!

In three working days I will no longer be a teacher.

I am an excellent teacher. I have taught whole families. I have achieved outstanding GCSE results. I have run two departments. I have touched the lives of thousands of students. I have laughed, and I have loved it… and I have hated every second for the last 2 years.

I am striking today, for the teachers who I love. Most of those teachers are at school, teaching, while I write this. There are many reasons why they are at school, rather than on strike. You’d have to talk to them about that, and I don’t intend to berate them for making that decision. But I do want them to know that I am striking for them. None of this effects me anymore. I am doing it for YOU, teachers!

I am on strike for the children who have become statistics. I am on strike for the teachers who have become hardened and robotic. I am on strike because your teenage years aren’t all about exam results, actually, and we shouldn’t forget that. I am on strike to ask the government to back off and let us do our job – we’re the experts, after all. I am on strike today, because it is the last (albeit tiny) way I can raise my voice in defence of the occupation that was once my calling.

I am on strike because teaching is unrecognisable to me now.



Mormon Up!

We went to see The Book of Mormon recently. I loved it.

I love a good musical, anyway, but I was worried about this one. I saw Jerry Springer, The Opera, and struggled to see the funny side of what felt a little too much like some sort of blasphemy (Jesus as a baby in a nappy? Am I remembering wrong?). Regardless of where I might be in my own spiritual path, I still struggle with anything that ridicules my very honest upbringing.

So when my “godless” husband bought tickets for the show, I was intrigued (I love a good musical!)… but nervous. And then I read somewhere that Book of Mormon had been referred to as “a love letter from an atheist to religion”.  And I wanted to go even more. Because there’s nothing I love more than love between different world-beliefs (if we did this more, we’d all be better off).

And I was ready to be offended… and to laugh… and to wince at how close it came to being difficult (and how funny that can be too).

But I wasn’t ready to come away feeling like I’d learned something important for my life.

My daddy asked if he’d like it. I have no idea. Some of the AIDS jokes, the giant penises and the coarseness make me want to protect him and say “No!” (though I know he wasn’t always a vicar…), but some of me hopes he’ll see what I saw in this song.

Because this song – coming as it did at a time when I was reverting to some child-like belief about the world (Why is God doing this to me??!!) – changed how I deal with the world.

It comes at a time in the show where the main-Mormon has jacked it all in (can’t deal with a difficult mission in Uganda) and leaves his (slightly dopey) mission buddy to deal with it all. The bit where the main-Mormon jumps in about Orlando… that’s where I burst into tears and realised what an idiot, spoilt brat I am…

Listen… imagine you have first-world problems… ignore the slightly blasphemous bits…

If you’re Christian, think about the smirk God would have on his face that this is how he got a very useful message to me. If you aren’t religious… enjoy the very silly song.