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.


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!


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.


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