A. Read the passage through quickly. Then answer the
question: Does George like teaching?
I went into teaching for all the wrong reasons - short hours, long holidays and the idea that I’d have enough time to set up my own business. It didn’t work out at all. I ought to have known better, as my father was a teacher, but he worked in a grammar school. Although he brought marking home, his job was very different from mine, much more settled. It was easier for him to know what he was doing. If he saw my classroom, I’m sure, he would be absolutely horrified. He just can’t envisage what my school is like.
Before I became a teacher, I worked as a designer in industry. It was a dead-end job with no chance of making progress unless you were brilliant. So I went on a post-graduate teaching course for a year, which I enjoyed. It was much better than sitting in a factory working out pattern designs. I liked the academic side, but the practical side wasn’t very useful, though I understand it’s much better now.
My first job was at a small primary school in an expensive dormitory village, very different from my present school. All the children were smartly dressed in uniform. They were expected to move quietly from one classroom to another and to eat their lunch in total silence except for a short period of quiet chatting at the end. In assembly, the head stood behind a sort of lectern, in traditional fashion, with his staff ranged on either side. He once told the female staff, “I like my ladies to wear skirts,” and I seem to remember that I was obliged to wear a collar and tie. In many ways he was running a nice little preparatory school which was what the parents wanted.
Although I liked the head personally, he reminded me of my father; I didn’t feel that working in a school like that was doing a lot for society. I wouldn’t call myself a political – capital P – person, but I’d developed a bit of a social conscience by that time. So I left after two years. After a while, I met up with a chap I’d worked with before, who was setting up a handicraft workshop. It seemed a good idea so I threw in my lot with him, lost a lot of money and just avoided being made a bankrupt. When the business collapsed, I just wanted to get away. I’d met my present wife by then and we went abroad for four months. When we returned, I needed money desperately, so I went back to teaching.
I’ve been at this school for four years now. We have about three hundred pupils. The catchment area includes quite a large number of council houses like mine. The teaching is mainly informal, but staff are allowed to use their own methods. Unless things are going badly wrong, no one interferes. We try to bring the children progressively towards a more secondary way of working. In the first year, they are with the class teacher almost constantly; but by the time they leave us at the age of twelve, they are moving around in groups from teacher to teacher.
The first two or three years in this school were very difficult for me, even though I’d already done quite a bit of teaching. The children didn’t know how to act in a classroom situation: their socialization wasn’t complete. They couldn’t sit at their desks and work, but wanted to make friends with the children around them. There was a lot of talking and moving about. They weren’t actually destroying the ceilings, but the relationship deteriorated to such an extent that there was no way in which I liked them and some of them disliked me.
It needs a lot of work to recover from that situation. A teacher is very isolated. You can go to a colleague and say, “They’re a hell of a bunch”, and get a sympathetic hearing, but you have got to work it out for yourself ultimately. I overcame it by trial and error. There is no prescription for getting control. Maybe it’s a shout or a threat or just waiting there with the right expression on your face. There were times when none of these worked. Teaching is an art, having an eye for the types of movements and an ear for the sounds that indicate the machine is not running properly.
I like teaching much better now and I want to stay in this school because I’m reaping the benefits of all the hard work I’ve put into the relationship. I still have a yearning to set up another business, though that will probably remain a dream. A lot of teachers see their work as a vocation, but I could never feel that. In some ways, I see myself as a performer, an entertainer, setting up activities for the children at their level. If they enjoy them, then the job is done.
B. Read the passage again and answer the questions:
1. What are the reasons for George’s becoming a
2. Did he have any non-teaching jobs before he became
3. Has he had any teacher’s training?
4. What was his first teaching job like?
5. Is his current teaching job similar to his previous
6. Does he derive much pleasure from teaching?
7. Are there any problems connected with his present
8. What do you know about his future plans?
C. Translate the following into Russian:
to work smth out assembly
a dead-end job a catchment area
a dormitory village to deteriorate
a post-graduate teaching course to reap the benefits