Son 2 phoned today. The conversation went something like this:
“I’m just informing you that I resigned from university this morning.”
“Ah. I see. How did you do it?”
“It’s easy; you just go online, click ‘I don’t want to be at uni any more’, and they go, ‘OK’.”
“Ah. Right… Why did you decide to do that?”
“I’ve had enough of the education system. It’s sucking out my soul.”
A proper parent would probably have tried to do some reasoning with him. Or wheedling. Or bribery of some kind. A proper parent would have at the very least suggested sleeping on it, or going to discuss it with a friendly lecturer; but I just said a singularly ineffectual,
The problem is, you see… the thing that stopped me from doing all the things a proper parent should have done is that I AGREE WITH HIM. The education system probably IS sucking out his soul. I’m a teacher and the education system is sucking out my soul as well. It’s also sucking out the soul of almost every other teacher I know.
I didn’t tell him that a couple of weeks ago I had my first ever anxiety attack and am signed off sick from the job that once made me spark like a high voltage cable. I didn’t mention to him that everything I ever wanted to do for young people is being slowly and surely booted into oblivion by the grades obsessed, bureaucratic slurry of suits who run our college. I didn’t mention that my college – a place that’s entire purpose should be to inspire the next generation to greatness – is now nothing more than a grades-at-all-costs human-crunching machine.
A few years ago I was a Grade 1 Outstanding teacher; I spent all my time reading and thinking and collaborating with friends and colleagues on ideas for excellent lessons. I loved the students and I still do. But the system has reached a point where I don’t have the strength to work in it any more; the whole thing creates massive cognitive dissonance in my brain. I no longer believe in it, and need to find a way out.
So who am I to tell my son that he can’t walk out of a system that is so screwed? Like him, as soon as I can find a way, I will go online and click ‘I don’t want to be a teacher any more’, and they will say, ‘OK’ and that will be that. There is no shortage of newly qualified and enthusiastic teachers ready and willing to take my place in the queue for grinding disillusionment.