Sharing a lifelong passion for history, writing and teaching

On teaching

What is it that attracts people to teaching?

Several reasons, I daresay. There’s the noble one – to mould the lives of the young. It gets modified with experience, but it’s a fair start. It’s like the girl who wants to be a nurse because she likes the idea of mopping fevered brows of dishy young men. No doubt she does indeed mop brows, but she ends up doing other things as well.

There’s the modest one – simply to be useful to society. A ‘salt of the earth’ motive. You can’t argue with that.

There’s the realistic one. You come to accept that you are bookish, academic, scholarly – what you will. Or, to put it another way round, you can’t see yourself digging holes, or fighting elections, or carrying out fearsome cross-examinations, or serving at table. So you narrow it down, and there you are. Not very exciting, but it is, as I said, realistic. And we could all do with a spot of realism.

I have often thought that an important motivation was power – the greatest intoxicant of all. Just think of all those immature young minds who might be influenced by what you say.

What motivated me? Just circumstances.

To find out more, look out for my new book, On Teaching

On Teaching, A Good teacher
Berwick Coates