Home' Teacher : July 2010 Contents PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT 7
I was chatting with a friend recently, since
teachers actually do have friends, just as
they do actually live in houses, rather than
sleeping under their desks, as was once
thought to be the case. Since my friend is
not a teacher -- see, it's actually possible that
teachers have friends who are not teachers --
I found myself explaining a few things, like
the differences between primary schools
and secondary schools, and the differences
My non-teaching friend had assumed
that teachers are all pretty much the same.
They all wear cardigans or tweed jackets
and do pretty much the same thing, just
with students at different age levels, right?
Primary school, I went on to explain, is
like a feudal system, with a couple of non-
teaching nobles who tell everyone else what
to do, while the pedagogical peasantry till
their educational fields any damn way they
please, as long as they pay their tithes.
In contrast, I explained, a secondary
school is more like post-revolutionary
France. It has the wonderful aroma of an
oligarchy, but with lethal factional inter-
ests. It's a bit like a democracy with swords,
although in most secondary schools the
weapon of choice is the pen, the mouth or
the pixels on a screen, but weapons are the
order of the day nonetheless.
Many newly-appointed secondary school
heads of department come back from their
first heads of department (HOD) or middle
management meetings in absolute bewilder-
ment, stating that they've never seen such a
rambunctious group of hotheads. I usually
respond that it's only first term and bound
to get worse from here.
You see, the factions in secondary schools
are as predictable as they are representative.
Maths HODs pride themselves on their
logical thinking, practical approach and
no-nonsense attitude to getting stuff done.
To every other HOD, 'completing exercise
five' does not a lesson plan make. Perhaps,
subconsciously, they resent the fact that they
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