Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Social Graces - Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee (apologies to John Donne)

If I had a great following, I probably would resist the temptation to write this blog. However, since I am the only person likely to read it ... here goes.

As far as I am concerned, the biggest difference (which is the one that socks you on the jaw every time you encounter it) between teachers in the public sector and teachers in the private sector is the lack of anything that smacks of social grace.

I mean, you would think that if you find a stranger sitting in the staff-room, a few questions might just pop into your head: such as, could this person be a terrorist, is it a poltegeist, or even ' what the hell is this strange person doing drinking our coffee and eating our biscuits!'

This does not happen. In so many state-run primary and secondary schools, I deliver my lecture to a year group and go into the staff room for coffee or lunch and the staff walk and talk over, around and through me. On one occasion I was even climbed over.

I might as well be invisible.

Not from them is the subtle, 'hello', 'good morning', 'what have you been up to?'

Yet in private schools, I quite frequently find myself talking to the headteacher. The head of English makes a point of welcoming me. At lunch in the canteen, I am carefully escorted to a table and introduced to the staff, with whom gentile conversation then flows. Then, at the end of the day, I am offered more tea or coffee, and a thank you and escorted to my car.

I wonder if there's a course at teacher training college on: how not to use good manners!

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