Almanac Life: The Muse is musing on teachers




Well hasn’t winter in Melbourne kicked in with a vengeance. We are seven days  in and already we’re having three-dog  nights which, given I only have two dogs, constitutes a problem . If anyone has a dog devoid of fleas to donate I am a worthy recipient and, contrary to what people say, if you lie down with flea free dogs you don’t get up with fleas.  Il Nino seems to have stopped causing more havoc up north than Al Capone did in Chicago during Prohibition so perhaps I should ditch the dogs and head north. I did get a message from my energy provider today advising me my usage had gone up considerably and I should contact them to discuss. What we would discuss is a source of bemusement to me. Perhaps they never go outside and are seeking my advice as to the weather. Jeez the SEC, Gas and Fuel and Board of Works are looking good to me right now.


But I digress. Enough of the weather.


I had a couple of Abbotts longnecks, rolled a Capstan and, after viewing a news report on the push to make school hours more flexible for students [read parents], I commenced to muse on why the bloody hell anyone would aspire to be a teacher today.


Now I commenced school in 1959 at Saint Michael’s in Wycheproof, the year Pat Glennon won the Cup on Macdougal and Saint Michael’s, like a lot of other country institutions, is now defunct. We were taught by the Sisters of No Mercy in four classrooms accommodating preps up to Form 4 (in the modern vernacular) and I reckon the school peaked at 156 students.


If I do the Math, its forty kids in each not so big room spread across eleven classes with one nun to a classroom teaching three grades. It tends to get hot in the Mallee in summer and air conditioning constituted opening windows to let the hot northerly in. Jeez the place must have stunk by 3 30. Anyway the good sisters battled on and did an admirable job of educating us to the point we could all clap and chew when we moved on.


I suspect nobody ever remembers all the teachers they had whether they be good, bad or indifferent but always a few stand out. My first teacher was Sister Dominic, a Vagg from Echuca and her brother Bob played a few games for Hawthorn [probably a  relation of Barry the Demons player ] and she may have been the first woman I fell in love with so kind, encouraging, nurturing she was. She was also a teacher of manners and the right thing to do. We also had Sister Barbara who wasn’t cut out for the job where discipline was required. When the strap was called for she would take the offenders into a room, hit a desk with the strap to make a loud noise and offer them some advice: “Rub your eyes and look like you are crying.”


Sister Magella was a good teacher but unfortunately delivered spittle like a llama protecting it’s young from a wolf. Nobody ever wanted to sit up the front when she was teaching. Jeez you weren’t safe from drowning three rows back. The overseer of these good ladies was Mother of Good Counsel the most inappropriately named person I have come across – ever. Not sure what had transpired in her earlier life but I suspect she trained under the Marquis De Sade. Her day wasn’t complete unless she had delivered 200-plus lashes .


Lots of other teachers came and went but on reflection they all were effective in their different ways. Albeit I recall a few who in hindsight couldn’t train a pig to be dirty.  But primarily a teacher’s role was to educate and they could focus nearly 100% on that with a bit of yard duty thrown in.


Fast forward to today. A teacher’s role supposedly is to educate but I wonder how you could maximise your primary role when inter alia you have to be alert to little Johny breaking a finger nail whilst picking his nose, sending him immediately to sick bay and informing his very busy parents Johny has suffered two life threatening  injuries: a broken finger nail and a blood nose . You are then held responsible if you fail to teach your students basic manners as seemingly that is not a parental responsibility these days and, please, can you identify immediately any bullying and deal with it promptly via the appropriate Government channels in order potential litigation can proceed. I don’t condone bullying but in my experience bullies are very good at conducting their trade out of sight of authority so I am not sure how a teacher is expected to pick up on it early in the piece.  Of course it is mandatory these days for every kid to be a star and woe behold a teacher who writes a report suggesting Jasmine might be better placed at the Sunshine Hair Dressing Academy rather than fulfilling her parents aspirations for her to study law at Melbourne Uni in the likelihood that two years after graduating she’d be proving Tony Mokbel is innocent.


Why do I write this ? Frankly for years I had the view teachers were wankers slothing around in soft jobs with lots of holidays.  Two years of home schooling has changed my opinion and lifted my regard for teachers. In general they do a wonderful job, they are grossly underpaid [as are nurses] and they now  are expected to take responsibility for things far outside of  their training and what they’re paid for.


Having said that given continuing events in the land of the free and the brave I can’t contemplate why anyone would want to be a school teacher in America.


Cheers all, stoke up the fire and throw an extra dog on.




Read more memoir from The Muse (Drizzle) HERE


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