Monday, 9 February 2009
Forget policeman, forget the calendar, forget the wrinkles, if you've ever been a teacher then the real sign you're irredeemably getting older is having a parent-teacher meeting with a teacher you yourself taught several years ago. Honestly, the dynamic is so awkward. He wants to call me 'sir' and yet I feel slightly subservient to him, and so on. Thankfully, there was nothing of concern regarding Sally's progress in Y6. And what does she want to be when she grows up? A teacher! I'm amazed how many of my former pupils have returned to school. And yet, I shouldn't be; I did the same myself. But I had unfinished business with the classroom, having flunked the last years of my own schooling. As Head of Year Eleven (Fifth Form, in real money) for many years, one of my jobs was giving careers interviews to sixteen-year-old boys. At first, the number who expressed an interest in education as a job were an endorsement - and, of course, I encouraged them as payers of my future pension. Later on, when I was jaded, I expressed some mild surprise that anyone would want to do a job I found impossible. But deep down I was still pleased. If I'd stayed put, of course, I'd eventually have had the offspring of my former pupils in my class. And that would have been a real shock. Because, in many ways, I still feel as if I'm waiting for the piece of paper telling me I've passed my 'adult' badge. Marriage, children, house, job, mortgage and the rest just don't seem 'grown up' when you're doing them yourself. But sitting listening to somebody whose spellings you've corrected telling you about your daughters literacy levels brings the message home, believe me.