Monday, 18 February 2013

Who'd want to be a manager?

Yesterday on  Newark North Gate Station I saw a  huge  poster which advises young people with degrees in physics that, if they become teachers, they could rise to management positions within four years. This is offered as an enticement rather than a threat.

I find this bewildering.  Surely the people we want to become physics teachers are those who are terribly keen on physics and wish to impart their enthusiasm to others, not those who want to get out of the classroom and into "management" as quickly as possible.  I have long argued that to be a good teacher you need three qualities:

  • an enthusiasm for  the subject  and sufficient knowledge of it for the level at which you're teaching:
  • an ability to communicate:
  • respect for the people you're teaching, be they infants, children,adolescents, or adults.
Essentially managers make lists. This is very important.  In schools good lists ensure that the right pupils get to the right teacher at the right time, in hospitals that the right patients get to see the right doctors, and so on.  Being a good list maker is not as easy as many people think, as I discovered in the brief period when I was a deputy head. But to assume  that list-making ability is more important than  being a good teacher, doctor, artist, probation officer, musician, entrepreneur  or whatever,  is mistaken  It is also mistake to assume that those who are good at their profession are actually good at making lists.

A friend who qualified as a teacher in the same year as I claims: "It all want wrong when they began to talk about middle management."   If we are to have the best possible schools, hospitals, universities, etc we need to attract those who are keen to do the actual job, not those who are keen to "rise" out of it as quickly as possible. We need to reverse the present culture, so that managers are seen as the servants of practitioners and not their masters.

1 comment:

  1. Totally agree Peter.
    We have seen some very good teachers become disastrous managers - one head springs to mind.
    The same advert apeals for Maths teachers, even more misleadingly, for I have known brilliant mathematicians who were disastrous both as teachers and managers! Sadly some teachers have got 'it' - the ability to communicate - whilst others have not. However much advice,inspection and counselling you give them you cannot change their 'style'.