As a side hustle, I very much enjoy being a newspaper columnist. It’s a release for my creative juices whose needs are not met in other fashions, be it TikTok, Facebook or Instagram. I have a few rules however, with numero uno being never mention the day job in too much detail.

Generally, at the bottom of this diatribe, you will see the words ‘Brett Ellis is a teacher.’ These five words are then used as a stick with which to beat me with should I write something with which you do not agree. Common ‘insults’ include ‘and this guy's a teacher?’ ‘I wouldn’t let him teach my kids’ and ‘no wonder the youth of today are so spineless’ (spoiler: they are not).

Last week I was in receipt of a new (rather impressive) insult when I was called an ‘intellectual bulimic.’ Am I bothered? Honestly, I used to be, but having written columns for a couple of decades now, it is water off a duck's back. That is, until my kryptonite: When aspersions are cast upon my full-time job as I just don’t, and have never, got ‘it.’ The two roles are not interlinked, and we are all entitled to a life, and an opinion away from work, are we not?

If your doctor was a naturist who liked to spend their weekends letting it all hang loose in a secluded wood in Worcestershire would you read ‘I wouldn’t let him treat me and save my life’, the same as if your bus driver held the opinion that covid was a scam: would you still let him drive the bus?

You do not have to prove your political leanings before entering a Weatherspoon’s and, if you did, no doubt they would be barren. My point is business and individuals all hold opinions that may or may not go against the grain and I am no different, except I have an outlet for mine and I am not afraid to share them. When I ‘dare’ to voice the opinion that, for example, female footballers, due to their lack of commercial clout, do not deserve to be paid the same as the top male players, it’s not a misogynist opinion, but one born of personal feeling, yet the comeback is that ‘this guy shouldn’t teach’.

For the record, I teach business and I have never walked into a classroom with a pre-ordained plan to discuss female football, Noel Gallagher, social media, or the male menopause in place of break-even charts, human resources, or the marketing mix. That said, we do often go off piste, as that’s how kids learn: by relating concepts, and stories, to real life: for example the other day we discussed costs and revenues and I used Billie Eilish at Reading Festival as an example: it engages the kids, is current and relevant yet, no doubt, I will now face abuse as to why I’m teaching the bairns about Billie….

No, teaching and writing are not natural bedfellows and are the work equivalent of Sam and Mick presenting the Brit awards. That said I will continue to blend only rarely the two, as I have today. Usually, I only marry them both when defending the current crop of teenagers who are a lot less troublesome that I was in my teenage years.

Back then if you went a day without either a teacher or kid being drunk or stoned in lessons, or without being physically assaulted by one of the two parties mentioned, it was a good day. Now things are much, much more professional: Kids are generally safe in school and most take their studies seriously as they are aware that the environment in which they live is a lot more competitive than it ever was in our day. They are, like us teachers, aware that there is a lot riding on this: Us with targets we must achieve and them with future life prospects hanging on a grade here and there.

So yes, I am a teacher with an opinion, but please rest safe in the knowledge that I won't be brainwashing your offspring with my views about self-check outs, night clubbing, dentists or any other random topic I choose to write about to keep you amused, or appalled, for a couple of minutes every week. That of course would be remiss of me and would mark me out as an intellectual bulimic of the highest order…

  • Brett Ellis is a teacher