Monday, 16 April 2007

Ologies woman

It's the last and shortest and busiest of the three terms. Exams to arrange, portfolios to mark and assess, and our team has not yet had their yearly observations which have to be done before the end of term.

I do community teaching. My classes are held in schools and community centres and my students are mostly young mums, who put their children into nursery, infants or primary school and come in to me for 2 to 3 hours.

They call me the Ologies woman. I teach an introduction to psychology, sociology and criminology. Criminology has given me some problems since Jon's arrest, especially when I get students saying things like, all drug dealers should be hung, drawn and quartered, which seems to be the general consensus of opinion. A sinking feeling starts in my stomach, but I have to cut out my personal feelings and be objective. It's a bit like being on stage, being a teacher. You put on an act. They don't know about Jon, even though it's been in the local paper, which makes it easier. They don't associate me with drugs.

I love this kind of teaching as I feel I'm making a difference to my students' lives. Most are single parents, who left school with no qualifications, got pregnant early and have never worked. They're a challenge. It gives me a buzz when I can see they're becoming interested, and getting the education bug, realising that there's more to life than having babies.

It doesn't happen with them all. Sometimes there's too many social problems to overcome and although they'd like to continue, education is not a priority. Unsupportive families and friends can stop a student attending with comments such as, What good will that do you? Who do you think you are? You'll be too posh for us soon. Jealous partners, fearing they will lose control of their women if they allow them to become educated, deter women with the threat of mental or physical abuse.

But I've had many successes. Once they gain their confidence, realising they can learn, many of my students go on to other courses in college, some have done full time Access courses and gone to University.

Being from a working class family, I can relate to some of the problems. I got married young and did my degree in my forties. When they tell me they're too old to re-train, I relate my experiences.

What I hate about teaching is the every increasing paperwork.

Copyright © 2007 Barbara Attwood

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