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teaching
 

teaching

 



Where Europe's teachers gain

READERS who believe that the teachers' dispute is over and that teaching in our schools will now return to some form of normality would, alas, be
very sadly mistaken.
Last week's agreement in the Burnham Committee to settle the 1985 pay claim (and the Government's decision, 18 months late, to set up an inquiry
into Scottish teachers' pay) might put an end to strikes, both official and wildcat, but the arguments about what a teacher's real responsibilities are,
to say nothing of what teachers should be paid from April 1 this year have not yet begun.
These arguments are likely to be fierce. After all, how many lessons should a teacher teach? And how is a teacher to be assessed? Who is to assess
the assessors? And will there be a national agreement on mid-day supervision?
And what about those many after-school activities? And should a teacher be expected to carry a load of exercise books home to mark every night?
And when should lessons be planned - during or outside school hours? When a colleague is sick, should another be required to take his or her class?
Now before there is a chorus of "Yes, yes, definitely," to all these questions and, "What about all those long holidays and short hours?" readers might
like to consider the conditions of teachers in other Common Market countries. Heinz Beiersdorfer is a 32-year-old married teacher from a small town
some 10 miles on the outskirts of Nürnberg in West Germany. There he teaches at a Gymnasium (a grammar school) whose boys and girls are all
destined for degree courses at universities. Herr Beierdorfer's day begins at 7.45 a.m. and ends at 1 p.m. He teaches just 21 lessons a week, each
lasting 45 minutes and receives £1,056 a month (at current exchange rates) - and that is after tax. "Before I was married I got less - only £ 838.50
monthly," he explained almost apologetically when we spoke last week. An English teacher receives an average £ 832 a month - and that is before
tax. Heinz is one of 100 exchange teachers who come here from Europe each year through the Central Bureau for Educational Visits and Exchanges.
He has spent the academic year teaching at Sedgehill School (the London comprehensive at which Tory MP Harry Greenway was once deputy Head),
and has found it "very difficult indeed." This is how he put it to me: "I have never taught at a comprehensive school and I simply could not cope with
the number of lessons. Teachers here have to do 32 lessons of 35 minutes a week and their day ends at 3.45 p.m. "I was used to teaching lessons to
Abitur standard (the German equivalent of A-level) and I quite enjoyed taking the A-band (top) pupils here but found the B-band tough. I find it very
difficult to handle low ability children, especially for double periods." He said that in Germany teachers do not work overtime. The French are actually
paid for working after hours. Another exchange teacher, Laurence Desportes, also 32, now at Sussex comprehensive, gives 15 lessons a week at her
lycée (grammar) at St Denis, one of the Paris suburbs. She is paid £ 900 a month. "I often end up working 16 hours instead of 15, and obtain £ 50 a
month extra," she told me. Mme Desportes is better off than some of her colleagues.
Like many lyceé teachers, she had to sit (and pass) a particularly hard and competitive exam. "To pass means that you are paid more for working less."
Those who have not passed, work 18 hours a week and teachers in schools for children aged 12 to 15 need to put in 21 hours - and that is maximum.
What about after-school activities like sports?
"AIl teachers in France get Wednesday afternoons off. The PE teachers have a special deal and take football and other sporting events then, and are
paid for it." In Denmark teachers are paid roughly the same as those in Britain but they work fewer hours: just 27 maximum. The number of lessons is
reduced if teachers attend in-service courses or teach top academic subjects. "This year, for example, I taught 20 lessons a week."
Bente Zeuthen, 38, told me. She has come to teach French at a Surrey comprehensive school. At her own school at Aarhus, she teaches German and
English.
John Izbicki.

(about 735 words)

from: THE DAILY TELEGRAPH, Monday, March 10, 1986




Assignments


Do not copy from the text. Use your own words as far as possible.

1. Does the author of the text think that the teachers' strike will or will not come to an end now? Prove your opinion by quoting from the text.
2. What attitude towards the teachers' strike does the author of the text expect from most readers?
3. How does he try to change the reader's view?
4. What do working conditions for teachers in France depend on? Do you think that it is a fair system? Write about 100 words.
5. What are the main differences between teaching in a German Grammar School and in an English Comprehensive School as pointed out in the text?
6. Do you think it is a good idea to have "unemployed teachers come in and take afterschool activities" as it is done in Denmark? Write about 150 words.
7. Would like to be a teacher. Say why or why not. Write 250 words.
8. Translate the second paragraph: "Last week's agreement ... have not yet begun."

 
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