It’s no fun being a teacher these days. It’s no fun being around teachers. The end of the first term is always a tense one for educators as they try to juggle limitless tasks with limited time. And it can get ugly. We teachers always take a lot of flak for all the vacation time we receive, but the every profession has its drawbacks. Ours is a total lack of scheduling flexibility. Your classes are your classes and they are when they are, and there is no way of getting around that. And when Christmas comes around, you can toss all the cheer out the window; it’s just no good to a tense educator.
My friends don’t believe me. They somehow think that we spend our days with large gaps of free time to lounge about and think about other things in life other than possessives and irregular verbs, but the fact is, we don’t. And because we don’t enjoy the kind of margin of timetable movement that others might, once things get clogged up, so do our veins, and our neurons, and our peace of mind. We get grumpy, and plenty of it. After all, inSpainteachers devote more hours to lessons than practically all other European countries, 17% in Primary school. 880 hours a year.
Countries like Finland, which is what everyone mentions when they want to talk about quality education, when they want to talk about quality everything, come to think of it, reserve 677 hours, yes that’s, let me take my calculator out here, 23% less. Is this another example of the fabled or feared, the Spanish spend more time at work but less quality work? Is it possible for Spanish kids to actually dwell within the classroom for nearly a quarter of the time more and yet learn less than those guys up inScandinavia? Entirely. That’s because it’s perfectly feasible. But that doesn’t mean it’s true. Just that it is possibly true. Why could that be? What is it that makes education in Spain inferior? What is it that makes Spanish mentality believe it is inferior? And which is true?
Naturally I have none of these answers on hand as I speak. And I don’t have time to find them because I am entrenched in my room trying to correct scores of exams that test and retest only a small percentage of what they need to know in life. And it is draining my life. Then I will go to class and heartily endeavor to save my fourth-graders from making total fools out of themselves in front of their parents during the Christmas pageant. It’s an emergency measure, you see, and all educational efforts must be put on hold as a consequence.
Were I to live in Helsinki, I’m sure I would otherwise being sipping some hot spiced wine and making plans for the evening with my friends instead of telling my friends to kiss off.