Teacher threw book for my own good

Mrs Alice Gay was quite the legend in my primary school, known for her acerbic wit, impossible maths homework, and for flinging exercise books out of the window more than occasionally.

If we were lucky, our books would land on a little red bridge that spanned our school pond. Most of the time, we weren't.

My mother, a teacher herself, was quite happy for my exercise books - red-marked and corrections undone - to get a little soggy. As far as she was concerned, it was well-deserved humiliation for being careless and lazy.

I don't think Mrs Gay would get away with all that in today's age of hyper-involved parents. As my son's principal puts it, it is now harder than ever to be a teacher.

Mobile phones and e-mail have made it a cinch to contact teachers outside school hours. Text messages are the go-to avenue for complaints and incessant questions. A teacher friend lamented that a parent has even haggled for extra marks on her child's tests and exams.

That's just managing us adults. After that, teachers have to go back to their real job - teaching our children.

At the kindergarten where my two-year-old attends pre-nursery, teachers teach two three-hour sessions back to back.They impart basic literacy and numeracy through an array of creative activities, with materials that are mostly handmade. Throughout the school day, they engage the children in energetic "motherese" - that high-pitched, cooing voice adults use to talk to toddlers - and shower them with love and affection, even when the children aren't on their best behaviour.

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