To Live Vicariously

Over half term I found myself talking to a niece who is thinking of going into teaching. She asked me if I’d still recommend the profession and what I personally enjoyed most. It was a good question that caused me to stop and think. We know that nationally there is a shortage of teachers, challenges abound. Negative news around budgets and bureaucracy. But I would absolutely recommend teaching if you like being with children/young people and if you are also passionate about your subject. I recall my first job, at Queen Katherine School in Kendal. I was amazed that someone would actually pay me to do what I loved doing, marvelling in the wonders of geography to captive audiences who could not escape me.

My niece then asked, now that I am less often in the classroom, where the magic moments come from. I still derive huge pleasure from seeing students do things that I wish I could have done when I was younger. In my own school days, I was not musical, I never performed on stage, I didn’t get picked for competitive sports teams, I was no linguist. Did I contribute to wider society? We didn’t do much to encourage community engagement in those days.

Perhaps then, one of the enduring pleasures of working in a school is the chance to live vicariously. When my students sing, it could be my voice. When they put in a great tackle in rugby, in the mud, I feel the impact. When they speak another language, I cross linguistic boundaries. When they collect an award, I hold it. When they contribute positively to their community, I’m changing the world. I feel the pride every time.

Parents may recognise this feeling when they witness their own children achieving things that they, as parents, could never do. One of the many joys of teaching is that there is almost no limit to our opportunities to feel part of the achievements of others.

(Photo of George, J Jay and Ms Preston receiving their NODA awards at The Blackpool Hilton earlier this month).

M H P Walton