The reason I became a teacher

Yesterday I was reading a newspaper on my iPad while on a treadmill at the gym. A young man approached me and asked me if I ever taught at a certain school. When I said I did, he introduced himself. I had taught this now 31 year old man for pastoral care for one period a week when he was in year 9.

He still remembered my name (and I remembered him well, once he had told me his name. Of course in the meantime he had changed from a boy to a man) which surprised me. But the most pleasant revelation was what a fine young man he had grown into. He was extremely well-spoken and polite.

He admitted that when he left school, he tried to get a job without any further qualifications, but it was impossible. He took on an apprenticeship and is now a tradesman, gainfully employed and enjoying is work. He is also completing further study to improve himself and his future prospects. We agreed that learning is much easier all round if the student wants to learn, is ready to learn.

We discussed technology in schools and he really gets what a lot of teachers don’t. That if young children are playing with interactive devices like iPads to play games and read interactive books, when they get to school, it’s hard for them to be engaged and want to learn if they are forced to use a pen and paper all day every day.

How nice to think that I might have had even a tiny influence on the way this fine young man has developed. He really has got his act together. He didn’t even have to approach me, he could have just walked past.

This encounter really made my day and is the reason why I became a teacher.

Thanks to J.K Rowling and Emma Watson for a great role model

Thanks to J.K. Rowling’s creation and Emma Watson’s interpretation, the character of Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series has made it not only okay but quite cool for young girls (and those not so young and boys too) to like and to be good at school.

Recently just before I visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, I asked my 8 year old niece what she would like me to bring back. Immediately she announced that a “Hermione wand” would be wonderful as Hermione is “good at school and spells and is a true friend.”

When I returned home with said wand, she was so delighted she disappeared into her room for a few minutes and returned with frizzy “Hermione hair” and a belt to hold her wand. Delighted cries of “expelliarmus”, “stupefy” and “pertrificus totalus” were heard around the house.

Hermione Granger's "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" dress

Hermione Granger's "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" dress

When I think of all of the undesirable influences on young people today, I am so pleased that my clever and talented niece and her friends have an excellent role model to look to when growing up.

When I was her age (and a bit older) it was seriously uncool to be good at school, let alone like school. Teachers and parents have half their battle won in terms of attendance and engagement if students enjoy school. Of course, we still need to challenge our students every day, but having positive children to work with makes learning so much fun and so much more fruitful for everyone involved. Thanks Jo and Emma.