What the teacher is, is more important than what he teaches. ~Karl Menninger
Tomorrow our daughters’ school is closed to the children because a sizeable proportion of the staff are striking. The reaction of most of the mothers I know, is one of disdain or frustration at being left with a whole day’s child care to organise at short notice. This of course is one of the great advantages of working from home, as we don’t have to worry about who will have the children, or have to sacrifice a days precious holiday entitlement.
I do understand very well that strikes of this nature are difficult for many households to manage. But, and here I feel there has to be a ‘but’, these teachers are demonstrating to their pupils an important lesson in life – that it is always essential to stand up to bullies. Indeed, they will do more by striking tomorrow than many of them have previously managed to do in the classroom to illustrate the anti-bullying principle.
It is all very well to give lip service to anti-bullying strategies, our school has had a myriad of attempts to convince us that it is an issue they take seriously, but the evidence coming from the children would rather point to it being less vigorously implemented. However, here the teachers have an excellent opportunity to show by their own actions how one stands up and fights back against an unreasonable aggressor.
I wonder how many of the striking teachers has had the opportunity to explain in class to their pupils the reasons why they will not be at school tomorrow. If they haven’t done so, I wish they would, because it is a valuable lesson.
Bullies come in many different shapes and guises. It is as well for children to know that. It is equally important to know what your rights and responsibilities are when confronting unreasonable attitudes and aggression. Far from being irresponsible, these men and women are taking action that just might make a difference, both now in fighting punitive changes to their employment conditions and also in the future by the example they are showing to their pupils.
In my opinion, the right to strike is an essential human right and one that we should honour. It has been hard won by brave men and women over years of exploitation – something else that perhaps our teachers should explain to their classes – I rather doubt that it forms much of the current National Curriculum.