I did never know so full a voice issue from so empty a heart…


There was a bit of Twitter chat on male and female teachers today. Is it right that there is a shortage of male teachers? Are women better teachers? Do heads prefer a specific gender with which to populate their school? You will be thrilled to know that I don’t know the answer to these questions and I would balk from answering them as I haven’t done any research. I haven’t, for example, set up three schools, one with all male teachers, one with all female teachers and a control school with, yes you’ve guessed it, no teachers. And I haven’t then observed these schools over a period of ten years to see which of them achieves the highest percentage of Level 6 scores in the spelling, punctuation and grammar test.

I also haven’t conducted experiments with myself such as ‘Skinner’s Pavlova’ whereupon I enter a classroom blindfolded and after observing a lesson declare the teacher to be male or female, resulting in a shard of meringue being fired into my open mouth or getting electrocuted in the face, depending on whether I was right or not.

No, I think it would be wise of me not to answer – plus I’ve kind of already written a little bit about it here. But what I will say is that when I go about the task of selecting a teacher to join my school I don’t care whether they are a man or a woman, I care about their abilities as a teacher. (I’m great aren’t I?) But there is one very important trait that I observe that will help me make up my mind and, if I’m honest, certain elements of this trait, in my experience, are more prevalent in one gender than the other. I won’t tell you which and what – that can be a little game for you to play.

For this very important trait I’ve turned it into a question and I’ve compiled multiple answers for which I have a point system that I won’t share with you now as I wouldn’t want to ruin your fun. If you like, you can come up with your own point system and use it at school when you’re interviewing or maybe just in the staffroom as a bit of self amusement. This is great. It’s like devaluing education and putting teaching on a par with some teen magazine questionnaire about deciding which member of ‘No Direction’ you’d be best suited to having a short term and emotionally devoid relationship with. This is exactly the kind of thing education needs; Nicky Morgan, take note and let’s go….good luck everybody – and just so you believe that I really don’t value the sexes differently, I would like to convey that luck equally to both men and all you lovely ladies.

@theprimaryhead’s big question:

Do you have a special teacher voice?

  1. No, I talk to children the same way that I speak to adults in the staffroom accept  with less swearing (for primary teachers at least; I imagine you secondary lot swear like dockers as you struggle to maintain control of the hooligans that you blame us for creating)
  2. Yes. Normally I speak in a, well, normal voice. When put in charge of a class of kids however I feel compelled to use what I consider to be modern vernacular in order to hoodwink the children into thinking that I have my finger on the pulse and that I relate to them. The hit ratio is horrendously low – I may start off using current phrases but will soon descend into using words from TOWIE Season one and trying to crowbar a reference to Gangnam Style during a PE lesson. I will eventually use phrases that wouldn’t seem out of place in a 1950s documentary about teenagers – do you dig it Daddio?
  3.  Yes. If you and I were having a conversation you would hear and understand me perfectly and you would be able to stand at a reasonably close distance to me – when you enter my classroom you will see that tone, pitch, volume and an assumption that anyone else can speak English are vocal considerations that I have neither the time nor inclination for. My voice becomes more of a strangled harsh bark of the highest register and my vowels come out shorter than your average consonant, unless the word I’m saying is a ‘filler’ word in which case the vowel sound will be stretched to such an extent that it makes a Reception phonic lesson sound like a condensed rap performed by Alvin and his band of chipmunks: Noooowwwwww, riiiiiiight, okaaaaaaayyyyyy, liiiiiisten pleeeeeaaaaase. I also like to stress the main ‘learning’ words so that children are quickly trained to pick up on key vocabulary without actually hearing them in context and I always phrase my questions in such a way that it is impossible to choose the wrong option.
  4. Yes. When I speak to children, particularly in independent work time or during break/lunch/registration, I tend to sound like I’m auditioning for a part in ‘The Wire’. I mumble, assume that all children have an intricate knowledge of ghetto lifestyles and often end each sentence with a question such as ‘You feel me?’ or ‘Ain’t that right bruv?’ It’s almost as if I think children won’t tolerate or respect the vocal honesty in my plummy Received Pronunciation accent.

So there you are. How did you do? And did you spot the man or the woman or do we all have an equal chance in being vocal idiots? I will let you decide, but for the record, and based on the results of all my extensive research into the matter, I know which answer I’d go for. And that means that not only do I have a higher chance of dating Harry Styles but that I also have the perfect teacher voice, init?

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