I’m a teacher.
Funnily enough I didn’t want to be when I was growing up. I wanted to be an architect. I’ve always liked buildings. Someone, at some point, told me that you needed to be great at Maths to be an architect. Because I have always hated Maths, I stopped planning to be an architect, and entered about twenty years of bumbling along with no clear direction. I do remember that during this time of bumbling I definitely didn’t want to be a teacher. My mother was a teacher and she didn’t particularly like it. That put me off. Also, as a kid and teenager I wasn’t really a fan of school. I preferred being by myself or living in a fantasy world populated by rock guitarists, dungeons, dragons and notions of being a writer. In the end being in debt, and over-educated and adrift I went to Japan with Cathy to teach English.
Why Japan? It was there, and it was offering a job.
Cathy and I were in Japan for five and a half years. It was a very influential experience in my growing up. One thing I found was that I liked teaching. I should have gone straight to teachers’ college when we came back to New Zealand but I didn’t. When we came back to New Zealand it rained a lot. I was depressed and culture shocked. I got a job teaching English at an English Language School but one morning I walked out without telling anyone, went home and lay down on the bedroom floor. Figuratively it took me a long, long time to get back up off the bedroom floor.
Too much drinking, too much self-pity, and a dreadful draft novel later, Cathy convinced me to go to Teacher’s College. What I should probably write now is: “and I never looked back”. Except, of course, that this is not true. I look back constantly. Even now, as a fairly experienced and happy teacher, I look back.
My first five years out of Teacher’s College were spent at what is known euphemistically as a “challenging” school. It certainly was challenging. There were times in that first year where I found myself back on the bedroom floor wondering how or if I would ever get back up again. I did a lot of stupid things. Sometimes I wasn’t a very good person or a very good teacher. All I can say is that I think in the end I got bit better at being both, and that I learned a lot about myself and about other people. Life is a lot harder for a lot of people in New Zealand than I had ever realised.
Now I am in my second year at quite a different school.
Cathy and I went to Japan in 1998. In 2012 then I find that I have been teaching, taking into account a couple of gaps, for about twelve years. Which is all really just a long preamble to show my credentials before I carry on. Essentially I am saying that my credentials in education boil down to experience as a teacher and thoughtfulness.
I think that’s all you need though. Sometimes, but not always (there’s no always about anything), it’s a good idea to stay away from experts. Even if they are prefixed Sir.