Those That Can… Teach? By @ASTSupportAAli

Yesterday I phoned my mother, and asked her to suggest a location/time for me to take her out to lunch. (During the holidays I make every effort with my family! This links to my ways of alleviating the stresses of teaching!) She responded after whispering to my Dad. ‘Yes. OK! You can take us to Birmingham!’ My initial reaction was, err thats over 120 miles away each way! I drive to work everyday and to accept this would be like utter torture. However, I quickly responded with a smile and assertive. ‘Yes, sure, what time…?’

When I got to Birmingham I met up with my family and ‘uncles/aunties’. (In Asian culture, anyone who you respect/has association with the family/is older than you is an aunt or uncle.) Apparently it has been around 9 years since I had seen them last!

One of those ‘uncles’ who used to live with us, who occasionally used to take me to school, used to be one of the coolest men I knew. Somebody who I looked up to was now a class A drug addict. He was wearing oversized, ripping at the seams clothes. He had several teeth missing to accompany his darkened, jagged others. His hair was messy, thin and irregular. His mannerisms were lost, ‘uncle’ was not there. He itched and fidgeted as he spoke. He was unsure of what he had just said, his memory was fading it seemed. He constantly gulped as if it was his last breath.

I felt sad.

I was shocked.

Who was to blame for this?

I found it amazing that my father, sat and talked to this uncle like nothing was wrong. I knew however, that this was with a real sense of discomfort. My dad looked at me and struggled to explain the state of this man. My dad looked as if he had let my uncle down simply because of the state he had chose to put himself in.

What followed has triggered me to write this post…

Amongst the food and the memories this uncle in my childhood, he started lecturing his younger sons who arrived to say hello to me. He told them they should listen to him, and they should not make the mistakes he has. He shouted and stressed the importance of education and the value in listening to elders/teachers and other respected individuals. I could see from these young 14, 17 and 18 year old faces they were thinking…

‘What the Fu*k do you know?

How can you tell me all this after you clearly didn’t do it?

What a hypocrite…’

They were angry, they were embarrassed. They were determined to not be like him. How do I know? I could tell…

This led me to think…

Do we actually have an impact on our students when we continually say to them…

Do all you can!

Achieve all you want/dream of?

Be the best you can be!

Reach for the stars…

And all that kind of stuff…?

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What I mean is, do students think we are hypocrites that are talking sh*t? Do they think…

Well, why didn’t you then?


Are they wondering why we did not become scientists, actors, architects, vets, dentists, pilots, engineers, doctors, lawyers, accountants etc?


Bare with me…Let me reference from MY experience…

I am often asked having read Law at University,

Sir… Why did you not become a Lawyer?

Sir… Why did you not become a Barrister?

I have also heard students say to PE teachers during a Ski Trip…

Sir, what would you know! You are only a PE teacher…

Shocking? Surprising? Nonsense?

Does society as a whole only value jobs based on their pay bracket? Is this cultural? Is this just the way a capitalist society is set up?

Historically, in the UK if you look at the most sought after graduate jobs, teaching does not come into this list. However things seem to be changing… rankings here place Teach First as number 2.

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Unsurprisingly being an educator does not come into many top 10 most well paid lists either. Nevertheless, the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) has published a report highlighting forty job roles which are believed to be key to the country’s economic growth. Teaching is now in this list… but do students/parents/adults see this?

Is the status of the profession changing?


What do students actually think of Teachers?

I know there are thousands that value us, that think we are more important than even their parents. But generally do they do think we should have done more with our subjects? (Too massive a generalisation to make?)

I guess… I am thinking about all those that say, we must show a love for our subject more than anything. That we must show an unfettering affiliation with the joys of our subject and all it brings. (I agree to an extent…) So if we do, is sharing it with others by teaching us, really reaching for the stars? Is doing all we can with/for/at our subject and demonstrating that to our students enough for them to explore other avenues with it.

Do Music teachers ‘gain’ more kudos/respect/authenticity if they are in a band? PE teachers if they play a high level of sport? If teachers are published writers and so on…?

Do we ever promote becoming a teacher or a social worker to the students who you may call Higher Attainers/Gifted and Talented etc… if not, why not? Reflect… Do you at all?



I think it comes down to PASSION. That word which I have read others say is something that isn’t helpful in education. Passion is something that infuriates them… But, I think that is what prevents us from being labelled with the tag/blur of as if we have failed to do what we are preaching to our students.

We teach and went into teaching because of a love for learning. A love for children. A love for wandering…. We can and more than often demonstrate that to the children in our care. Is that enough? For them? For others?



So… on reflection I do not think my uncle is a hypocrite. I do not think my dad has failed him either. I know he has a passion for his kids, he has a love for his children. He wants the best for them. He is an amazing man that despite all his ‘issues’ he still wants his children to be all they can…

I think teachers are using their lives to propel others. I know no other profession with such a selfless, relentless pursuit of happiness for all.





  1. I think, as teachers, the message we give to the children we teach, that you can be who you want to be, that they can fulfil their potential and pursue their talents is an important one – and when they ask us, we tell them that teaching is what we wanted to do, that our job does not represent a failure, but success in reaching our potential.
    A lovely post, Amjad. Thank you for writing it 🙂

  2. What a great blog. I always get asked by my pupils why I gave up my job to teach and I tell them, there’s more to life than money. They currently don’t get that concept, but one day they will.

  3. I worked for 13 years in logistics before becoming a teacher. For the last 4 of those years I gave up most of my free time to study for my maths degree as I knew I NEEDED to be a teacher. Many of my students find it odd that I would do that as they say they wouldn’t want to work with them!

  4. I recently applied for a new role in my school and in the interview was asked why I wanted this post, when there were other, higher paid SLT posts on offer which I could be going for. I explained that I was choosing this role because it was the one I would wake up in the morning and enjoy going to work for. That’s what teaching is for me, if I wanted the money I’d have chosen a different career path and finish work when I walk out the office!

  5. I’m reminded of the colleague who, the day after a parents’ evening, recounted the conversation she had had with one set of parents. Talking about their daughter’s career aspirations they had said, with no hint of irony, “She’s told us she wants to be a teacher, but we think she can do better than that.”

    I loved my career and would always ‘talk up’ teaching within the school, to other staff, to pupils and to parents, as well as beyond it. As I became a head in due course, financially I did OK, but that wasn’t what motivated me, and I would talk about the fact that the rewards and satisfactions far outweighed the demands and pressures, and that in a 30 year career I had rarely been bored – of how many other jobs is that true?

    There are lots of good posts out there on the benefits of teaching (see the #5reasons thread, for example) and I read and recently enjoyed this by Matt Bromley, in case you haven’t seen it:

    I quoted this bit of it, which has been retweeted quite a few times, suggesting it struck a chord: “Teaching is tough but it is tough because it matters; it is tough because we are doing something important, we are improving the world around us one person at a time.”

    Thanks for your post, Amjad!

  6. Great post Amjad and disarmingly honest. The message I try to give to students is that education will give the choices, including the option to do something they are passionate about – whether or not they have out what that is yet. For me, that is teaching, but I only discovered that almost by accident and certainly didn’t know it when I was at school.

  7. When children ask me why I became a teacher, I tell them the truth. It is all I have ever wanted to do. At 5, I was lining my toys up for ‘lessons’ and I do my dream job every day. If I can inspire them to find the thing that makes them happy, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of it.

  8. Lovely post Amjad. Some great pearls of wisdom there and things to think about. My students are always surprised why I left a career in sales, advertising, customer services and retail to become a teacher. I explain that teaching feeds the soul like no other job I have done. Passion for my subject (science), passion to ignite the love of learning (again, which I love) and an honour to have been a part of a students life …. who I may never see again and yet will have had an impact in some way, shape or form.

  9. Hi
    I read your article with awe. Thank you for sharing the post. As a creative I can concur wholeheartedly with the sentiments expressed. Absolutely spot on. Teaching my subject of Art and Photography is something that I feel blessed to be able to deliver. I recall telling the students that I painted outside of teaching…and they were amazed to be taught by a ‘real artist’. They googled me instantly and my stock rose instantly. They inquired Miss why are you teaching if you do all these things. I was touched by the innocence of their curiousits. All in all the ability to affect one person with the enthusiasm and love of my Subject is in itself enough. If I am able to sprinkle that magic to one student then my job will be done…for me that is the essence of teaching for. Enthusing a love of learning on the magical road of teaching.

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