Hats off to Wairarapa National MP Alastair Scott for having the courage, untypically in New Zealand, of telling it like it is.

When a local 26 year old primary school teacher Alex (presumably Alexandra) wrote to him protesting about teachers pay and working conditions, as is customary with young lightweight females these days, she took offence at his reply and ran to the media. For Scott had replied that although he supported increased wages for teachers they should find another job if unhappy.

“I was like Wow…” she told the Dominion Post Education reporter, which teenager scatterbrain babble said everything about the general calibre of sophistication required for Primary school-teaching. “Who’s going to teach the kids if I do up and leave?” she wailed, a mindblowingly stupid comment, reinforcing the image of school-teacher lightweightism. On that line of argument, presumably should she be knocked over and killed by the proverbial bus there will be no teacher to replace her, an absurd notion.

Unlike every other of the enormous range of activities in modern society, school-teachers alone have always had a grossly inflated view of their value in the scheme of things. Of course they are important, as too are bus drivers, shop-keepers, plumbers, accountants, road-workers etc, but no other sector has such a conceited (and wrong) view of their importance In the social order.

They certainly seem oblivious to the fact that ever since Menkhen’s relentless mocking of them, beginning back in the 1920s, they have persistently and justifiably been perceived as intellectually shallow and portrayed as rather dim figures of fun in endless fiction and commentary articles. God knows, I’ve done so uncountable times myself in print, using “School-teacher” as an adjective to infer wetness.

School-teaching is not a difficult job. It has the bonus of long holidays, job security, is repetitious and thus relatively uninteresting when compared with other careers.

Entrants know all of this at the outset when embarking on a teaching career, namely that society rates teaching fairly low with corresponding humdrum salaries. Complaining about it is akin to diving into the sea and moaning that the water is wet.

Alastair Scott was 100% right in his response. If Alex wants a higher income then she should seek out a career offering such pay levels. But she wouldn’t get off the starting blocks in an adult working environment, outside of waitressing or air-hostessing if she uttered “I was like Wow” infantile rubbish.

One thing is evident and that is society places a much high value on nurses who are also planning a strike. Much of their work is downright unpleasant, their shift hours are disruptive to a normal life and their symbolic ‘hand-holding’ role in times of maximum personal crisis earns them enormous respect and affection. To my knowledge, unlike with teachers, no writer has ever made fun of nurses in literature, which says it all.

I admire the government’s resistance to the teacher union strikes but I am saddened that no satisfactory accommodation has been reached with the much more deserving nurses.


“I know a good many men of great learning-that is, men born with an extraordinary eagerness and capacity to acquire knowledge. One and all, they tell me that they can’t recall learning anything of any value in school. All that schoolmasters managed to accomplish with them was to test and determine the amount of knowledge that they had already acquired independently-and not infrequently the determination was made clumsily and inaccurately.” – H. L. Mencken

Good article but good teachers deserve good income. Unfortunately the Teacher’s Union prevent this happening. Paying people the same no matter their ability is a nonsense that fails to deliver the desired results no matter the profession.

    I agree with your comment. Now, come up the system that will determine who is a good teacher and deserves greater remuneration

The truth is their role is not important at all. Research on identical twin studies has shown that long term (something teacher know nothing about) what makes the difference in achievement has nothing to do with early scholastic performance, or lack of, and everything to do with genes and child abuse. You can’t make them – but you can break them.

let’s not also forget you can educate anyone with a half a brain online now too – for free. You can download anything and ask questions to the knowledgeable for free. Teaching is instinctive to humans – we all do it, and often love to do it. For free!

    Catherine Forsyth May 24, 2019 at 5:18 pm

    And who will download?The parents who have had their children and breathe a sign of relief when the school term starts…

      Leave the money in their pockets and let them form homeschooling clubs – or whatever.

I wholeheartedly agree with HL Mencken (in fact I generally do.) I believe Mark Twain expressed similar ideas about the alleged benefits of formal schooling.

This is a peculiar new meaning of an old word, which seems to have originated in California but spread far and wide in a mere couple of decades:
to be like (v. tr.). 1. To resemble. (2) To say.
Since we already have several good synonyms for “say”, the value of this new coin is unclear. However, that has never stopped new usages from entering the language.

Shocked at the ignorance of this “article” (I wouldn’t say it’s an actual article as it lacks substance and facts). Why do people think it’s relevant to compare nurses and teachers other than they both study for the same time, get the same low pay and are undervalued in community and predominately female professions. Time to change the script, teachers deserve better pay and conditions. Nurses deserve better pay and work conditions. They are both well aware of the conditions and pay before entering the profession, that is not an argument to justify not fighting for better! Keep fighting teachers! Hipkins made election promises to teachers and hasn’t followed through.

I am flabbergasted! Sir Bob Jones and others, you are more than welcome in my class of 5 year olds at any time. Anyone can teach? Well perhaps you would like to let me know why our children are attending school with less skills than a decade or more ago. Oral language skills are dreadful, the ability to dress or undress has declined, the knowledge to open a book correctly has almost disappeared and been replaced with swiping, and I won’t talk about the ability to hold a pencil or cut with scissors! Please explain Andrew Atkin how you can learn these skills on line? If teaching is instinctive to humans, why are more and more children starting school with less and less skills?

There are some topics that can be learnt online but one needs the ability to read and comprehend what has been written. These are not inherent. They are learnt skills.

Yes, teachers and nurses are different; different but just as important in today’s society. Are teachers’ paid fairly? No. Yesterday, I completed 13 hours of work, 9 at my place of work and the remaining 4 in the evening after I had fed and spent some time with my own child. That was one typically light day. On average I work approximately 70 hours a week. I get paid for 40 of those hours. Long holidays? Hmm. Ask my children whether I am on holiday. Most of the time during the 2 week break is spent with planning, my own professional development to stay up with the latest trends in teaching, preparation of resources, particularly those I don’t purchase which, by the way, come out of MY salary as there isn’t enough in the school budget, and finding ways of meeting the needs of 20 children all at different levels of learning in my class. I haven’t even included the extra activities I run such as lunchtime clubs to provide our tamariki with extra-curricula interests.

Do I love my job? Yes, absolutely otherwise I wouldn’t be here. Do I find it stressful? Yes and exhausting. Am I expecting a huge pay rise? No, but recognition for what I and others do on a daily basis to prepare YOUR children for their future.

    I endorse this response one hundred percent. It encapsulates the reality and challenges teachers deal with every day.

    Bob Jones is most welcome to visit my classroom anytime. I am sure after one morning spent in a class of thirty, six year olds, he will appreciate the challenges teachers face in creating a stimulating learning environment that meets the needs of all students – including those who have been mainstreamed with insufficient support.

    After thirty-four years of teaching across all Year levels from Years 1 – 8, I can say with confidence that teaching is far from dull and repetitive. It can be stressful when you are called to manage students with special learning needs, without sufficient support in the classroom. Not to mention the amount of administration that is required. But it can also be both exciting and rewarding watching students acquire and value skills that empower them as learners. And it is the latter that keeps us in the classroom.

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