So where are these people in the schools I’ve taught in since becoming a teacher myself? The Modern Foreign Language teacher can be spotted immediately in any staffroom. Whilst most members of staff drag their slightly flustered selves in each morning carrying carrier bags of books, the MFL teacher, who is with very small exception female, appears immaculately dressed in expensive looking clothes which exude class and style as well as flirting with the fashion of the day. She always wears make-up and it’s usually the full works: blusher and eyeliner, lashings of mascara and a finely powdered nose, plus lipstick to match nail polish. MFL teacher is never seen in a pair of shoes with a heel less than 4 inches, and she walks with assured grace and ease where others are pushed aside by bags and sweaty adolescents. She is so impressive that people write poetic essays about her.
Standing too close to MFL teacher is a soul-destroying exercise as you start to scrutinise your own ill-matched trousers and shirt, look down at your shoes that need a good polish or possibly even a good binning, and breathe in not the scent of chalk but the finest fragrance.
By contrast, the RE teachers are a dowdy bunch. Some people have RE thrust upon them, and they don’t always conform to the stereotypes, but otherwise RE teachers seem to be either miserable and serious, or happy-clappy do-gooders. I don’t mind the happy-clappers so much, because whatever angle they are coming from, they have the best interests of the children and of society at heart. They spread messages of goodwill, preach inspiring stories in assemblies, and although generally Christian, you never get the impression they force Christianity down the throats of their audience. It’s the messages of Christianity that are important to them, such as being compassionate and caring towards each other, helping those in need, and so on. Society as a whole needs these people.
Look, I know these are just stereotypes, right? But they are scarily based on a wide pool of samples. Now I shall have to have a think about teachers of other subjects. Maybe next time I’ll start with PE – or is that just too obvious already?!