It is during the summer holidays that we get to experience the bundles of energy the little ones have really become, or the hormonal roller coaster our teens are on. That pre-holiday routine of school drops and regular meal and bed times is shot to hell. You haven't had a quiet evening to goof off in front of the TV for almost two months. The sometimes chaotic holidays are over, one day this week the uniform will be donned and children will return to school. The change from free spirits to students takes place in the classroom, away from parents, with minimum fuss and disruption. A week from now the holidays will be a distant memory and scrambling for 'things to do' with the kids no longer top of the agenda. For most of us this transition comes easy, it comes easy because we play a very small part in it, the real horse work is done by teachers.
Hardly a week goes by where teachers escape a bashing in the 'Meeja'. For decades they've been an easy target. Sometimes the critics focus on wages but mostly it's the holidays. Teachers are not paid well, let's get that out of the way. If you've ever paid for pre-school you know that childminding doesn't come cheap. You could pay a mortgage on what it costs to put your children in pre-school and then you spend the day worrying that they're not getting the standard of care you've paid for. In contrast, you can drop your children off at school, for free (theoretically), and drive away without a care in the world for little Katie or Jack's welfare. Not only will they be 'minded' in a way you can trust, for no extra cost, they will receive an education. Do we pay teachers for acting in loco parentis, do we value their labour with our children as we value our own? With starting salaries of approximately thirty thousand, (less than the average industrial wage), teachers would be cheap at twice the price.
That leaves 'holidays' the only issue to crucify teachers over. Yes, teachers do have holidays longer than the average working stiff, as do politicians and judges. Unlike politicians or judges, teachers spend their working day exclusively taking care of your most precious assets. They don't get to retire at 50 like Gardai, there is no consideration given to the stress of safely managing 30 or more little Jack or Katie's day after day. That sense of exhaustion you feel at the end of your children's summer holidays is nothing compared to the exhaustion a teacher experiences near the end of term having 'minded' multiples of the number of children that exhausted you. So the next time you hear "Bloody Teachers" remember we are bloody lucky to have them.