- "Why do you enjoy teaching?", with disbelief that I do actually enjoy my job;
- "Why did you become a teacher?", with the connotation that I could be doing other things that earn me more money and are easier;
- "Don't you find maths boring?", boring often having at least seven syllables;
- "Isn't it boring teaching the same topics all the time?".
First of all, it's worrying that the professional status of teachers is low enough that young adults consider that people with good-quality, high-demand degrees actively deciding to become teachers must be off their rockers. Secondly, it's also worrying but not surprising that most pupils think that I'm either a) mad because I enjoy maths or b) lying when I say that I actually find maths really fascinating - but I think this is a curriculum issue, because I (technically should) never get to teach half of the really good maths stuff.
This aside, my answers usually go along the same sorts of lines:
- Every day is different - I get up in the morning and, even if I've anticipated and planned everything that day, there will be something unexpected that crops up, and even if this is a challenge I have to deal with, it means I don't get bored.
- I'm learning all the time - this might be finding a new idea online and trying it in my classroom, cracking an explanation that finally makes a pupil understand how to add fractions or discovering something I didn't know before from colleagues or pupils.
- In my opinion, GCSE curriculum maths (at least at Foundation level) isn't real maths - as much as I try to make what they learn in lessons relevant and interesting to pupils, it's the tip of the iceberg, and there's a lot of procedure and method without meaningful problem-solving and application (the cynic in me thinks this is because it's too difficult to examine). I understand why quadratics are on the curriculum, but pupils don't, and it's really sad that there's limited time to explore why.
- I don't find maths boring because I've got the bigger picture - I can see why the things they're learning about are important. The real challenge is communicating this to the pupils.
- If I had to teach exactly the same lesson in the same way each time, yes, I'd probably get fed up of a topic by the fourth or fifth time round. However, adding in a new resource or idea, or looking for a way to do things differently to get more pupils to understand keeps the interest up for me. Besides which, however "boring" the topic is, it's worth sticking with it to be able to see the lightbulb moments or the excellent test mark at the end.