In search of alpha teachers

Brian speculates that British education hit the skids when a “golden generation” of alpha male teachers — veterans of World War II combat — retired in the ’80s. A man who’s faced the Luftwaffe can handle a room full of unruly students.

I get quite a bit of e-mail from military retirees who have become teachers or are in the process. (My Fox column generates a lot of military mail.) The vets do seem confident of their abilities, though impatient with ed classes and disorganized schools.

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  1. Bluemount says:

    I think men became teachers after a war because it was their ultimate goal in the first place. Maybe these were special people who had a need to protect and serve the community. But, do we imagine the non-war activity of military life produces discipline or dullness? In past wars people did not need a degree to make a living wage. Teacher’s were not as well paid, even the men. The teachers of that era had a personal mission and ideal they wanted to convey to their students.
    I could read when I entered grade school; so could my sister. Why? Our mother read to us. Neither of us spent a day in kindergarten; there was no such thing where we started in school. I don’t think that it or pre-school are necessary, and they drag out a child’s school life for such a long time that many become bored and drop out.

    My sister taught me to read too, but not very well. We didn’t expect teachers or education to define our lives; our intimate relationships were more important. Education was a choice among other good choices.

  2. Tim from Texas says:

    Veterans turning teacher is a doubled edged blade.
    Now,I was 7 when most of the W.W.II veterans began to return. Most of them, and there were dozens of them that returned to our community including my father and 3 uncles, returned angry,agitated,and agressive. I am not critizing them for it at all, for anyone having endured what they did would certainly be same.

    The problem with a good many of them is that they weren’t ever able to cool down, and simmer into a relaxed state. My father was one of them. He had the chance to become a teacher, but thought better of it, for he knew it would take him quite some time to adjust, especially to the inconsiderate antics of children. So, he went into the telphone business instead.

    Anyone, who lived close to veterans knew this was the case. Two of my uncles never relaxed, one did.
    I think this was probably the situation countrywide. I know it was with all the veterans in my neighborhood. A very good many of them took a very long time to adjust to neighborhood life with chidren screaming and the like always there.

    Now as to what this has to do with the teaching profession is this. Many veterans in those days did go into teaching. The veterans who had cooled and had simmered into a relaxed state did, of course, do a very good job at teaching. However, the veterans that went into teaching who hadn’t or couldn’t cool and simmer into a relax state caused quite a number of problems, most of the problems for obvious reasons were swept under the rug and ignored out of respect for what they had endured.

    The same happened, to a lessor extent, with the Vietnam veterans. It still happens to some extent to military retirees today who go into teaching. Some do very well. Some don’t. It’s a long journey it seems from the military to the k-12 classrooms. It takes a formidable adjustment.

  3. Bluemount says:

    Tim, I appreciate your comments. I had the same reservation too. My grandfather and my brother were both veterans turned teacher. My father also fought in WWII, but there was terrible trauma and rage that never went away. None of them went directly into teaching, it was something they did after they simmered down and chose years later when they came to grips with life.
    It has made me wonder about the consequence of war on society. Some families come from generations of warriors and for other’s it’s a rare event. Sometimes this means many generations of orphaned children, does anyone measure this 🙂 or consider it a strengthening experience?


  1. Why killing children makes sense for Islamo-fascists – and a speculation about smaller schools being a defence against that

    Depressing but inevitable, and presumably now being said by governments and by education departments the world over, more or less