It seems that many teachers only trust teachers. Whether it be online or within your own school, I’ve observed an unwritten (or written in some cases) rule that if you don’t currently teach, you and what you have to say about teaching, somehow ‘doesn’t count’ or at least lacks authenticity.
Within this category are included:
Of course in the last two cases there is an argument that they do ‘teach’ but it’s either adults or don’t teach very much.
Jokingly (?)my RE colleague suggested we refine it further; a teacher is someone that has marked a student book in the last three months.
So what’s the issue? Why don’t people think that current non-full time colleagues can contribute? Is it the full timetable part that matters? Or working full time in a school? Or the duties a teacher faces on a daily basis such as marking and report writing? Or dealing with large numbers of children on a daily basis?
I think the main issue that these teachers suggest is that if you’re not currently experiencing it you cannot fully understand it, no matter how hard you try. The moment you leave the classroom you’ve lost the ability to fully sympathise and therefore most of what you have to say about teaching lacks authenticity.
Sadly I think some people have clocked onto this phenomenon. On twitter a ‘non-teacher’ may be ambiguous in their bio. A consultant may say ‘I’m a science specialist’. Whilst this may be true they’re not a fully practicing science teacher. An Ofsted inspector may say they ‘spend hours in the classroom’. Playing the authenticity ‘game’ may mean the difference between a day’s work for some.
So, are these teachers right? Does it matter? Is this distrust unique to teaching?
Is there a set of criteria as to what makes you an authentic teacher?