Thursday, 4 April 2013

Please don't feed the trolls.

 I am a subscriber to The Times online - which is great for reading articles I wouldn't necessarily have the time or inclination to otherwise read. I wouldn't buy a newspaper every day, but I do have time to click on the odd article that catches my eye. 

I should have known better than to post a comment on the (deliberately inflammatory) article reporting on the new demands of the NUT; 'Teachers should be in school for 30 hours a week maximum, says NUT.' (I won't link as it's £.) I'm not a member of the NUT, so although I find it a bit hard to get behind this particular demand, I do get the general gist of it. I realise that 'I chose this job'. It isn't a 9-5. I would go mad if it was. It's a job where I am -each, and every day - challenged, delighted, frustrated, but never, ever bored. However, it is also a job in which I have to give 100%, and frequently this means my husband, family, friends and myself come second. I am lucky; I work in a supportive school, within an incredible department. But the pressure is there - it comes if anything from myself. People have entrusted me with their most precious thing; their children, and it's my job to help them to learn, to achieve, to mould themselves into the people they deserve to be. Increasingly, I find I am not just the imparter of what the word 'hyperbole' means and how to pronounce it, but also counsellor, mediator, surrogate mother. Friend. This is ok - it is what I signed up for, and it's what I love. 

So it was in my ignorance, or perhaps indeed my arrogance in assuming that, as a teacher, I could have an intelligent point of view - nay - even an opinion on what it's like to be a teacher in a British school that I posted a comment under the article, explaining that actually I did, often, work upwards of 50 hours a week, over weekends, and during my (apparently endless) holidays. 

I should NOT have fed the trolls. 

Let alone some of the less stable suggestions as to what teachers should do (my favourite was 'North Korea, all of them. Let them live out their socialist fantasies there. The REAL workers here won't miss them' or something to that effect), some of the replies directly to me were as follows: 

   'Are your working conditions standard in the teaching profession?  I live next door to one and a friend is also a teacher.  Your job should be a 08:15 to 16:15 job with an hour for dinner.  I have spoken with my neighbour and friend at length about teacher salaries and pensions, both generous, and you are way out on your own with your claims of working a near 12 hour day, an extra 1-2 hours extra per night and most of Sunday. If you do as much time as you say you do, you are over doing it. I recommend you buy another, reliable, watch.'

I love the 'I live next door to a teacher'. That makes you qualified to comment...? I live next door to a pensioner but I'm not sure that qualifies me for anything. I also found this: 6 teachers give their own accounts. They're probably workshy liars too. I would love an hour for dinner though. Especially on Wednesdays - that's Debate Club day. How much would we be able to get covered? I digress. 

Silly old me, I also posted a pithy, yet funny email that has been doing the rounds about value for teachers (I had it sent to me but the original, American one is here.) Wow. What a silly thing to say. Look, alright, I kind of knew it would be feeding the trolls. I didn't expect this: 

   'Your spurious comparison of value vs a babysitter was unfortunately not bolstered by the repeated (and somewhat sinister I find) use of capitalised words [...] if I found out that you were teaching my children I would withdraw them from class immediately. The skewed and somewhat self-serving value system you seem to possess could be dangerously contagious.' 

There we go people. Capitalising DOESN'T denote you STRESSING A POINT, it's SINISTER. Sorry chaps, did that frighten you? I am sorry, too, if my value system is 'dangerously contagious'. Actually, I'm not. I'm pretty secure, in fact, in thinking that I am helping to turn out well-rounded, balanced individuals who understand that you need to work hard to achieve something, that some things are worth going the extra mile, but that, also, a good teacher is one who has a life and isn't sleep-deprived! 

My favourite comment of all though, is this: 

   'I don't think you are a teacher [...] this is all a joke. A sad, unfunny joke.' 

There is a joke to be had there... (I must resist the obvious 'didn't realise I had stumbled onto the Mail site...) But I think my 'Learning Outcome' here is simple. I MUST NOT feed the trolls. 

Should I do lines...? 

My husband and I. Every day... 



  1. Oh the trolls! My sister writes occasionally (less than she used to) for Comment is Free on the Guardian website, and she used to get some horrendous responses, often directed at her personally (my favourite was along the lines of "you're not Canadian so you can't comment on Canadian energy policy"). I love debate, but trolling is something completely different from that!

  2. Fiona - It's so depressing. I know this post was a bit of a rant, but like you say, when it degenerates into personal comment it's just not a debate anymore. I also got the comment 'You - rubbish - graded at outstanding? I highly doubt it.' It makes me so angry that people think they're entitled to say things about schools and education, because they went to school once! It's taken me 5 years since I graduated to get to where I am... sad/rageface

  3. Oh dear god, what is wrong with these people? Yes, debate is fine but to make personal comments and to rubbish what you have achieved is utterly pathetic, just shows you that they have no reasoned argument at all.

    Also, yes 100 times "I must not feed the trolls" please



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