Posts Tagged ‘jobs’

One of the things I’ve learned – or rather, I’ve come to appreciate – over the years is that unless you do a job, you really have no comprehension of what the job involves, or what skills and abilities it requires.

I’m not just talking about the day to day stuff, the jargon, the mini triumphs and disasters, that you come across three times a week, if not more. I mean the specifics of a job.

I have no idea what teaching involves. Oh, I trained staff when I was both a financial controller and a director of finance; it comes with the job, training staff more junior. It’s how I learned to do the job, and it’s how people who worked for me learned their trade. But that’s entirely different from teaching children.

For a start, pretty much everyone who’s undergoing some form of training for a trade or profession actively wants to learn. In many cases, being trained is the only way you’re going to progress in your chosen field.

I came across lots of trainers who patently obviously, didn’t like doing the training. However I came across very few who weren’t good at the job. If they were crap, at least in accountancy, they didn’t tend to last very long.

(That said, my personal philosophy when training others was that it was my responsibility to train them, not theirs to be trained; if I explained something four different ways, and they didn’t get it, it was my job to find a fifth way, and if necessary a sixth way, nor theirs to understand the fourth.)

But no, I’m talking about teaching children. I’ve known a few teachers over the years, who’ve taught children from pre-school up to college years. I don’t have a clue how they do what they do. Not only the skills involved in imparting knowledge to those far younger, many of whom are there not because they want to be there, but because they have to be there. But also the handling a group of 20 or more children, of wholly different abilities and understanding.

Even leaving aside the administration elements of the job, I don’t know, couldn’t possibly truly understand, how they take a child with no interest in a subject, and change them into a child enthusiastic about he subject.

I don’t know what talents – no not talents, they worked to hone their skills and abilities – they possess such that they walk into a room and within seconds know who the troublemakers are, who the lazy kids are, the hard workers, the jokers, the shy ones, the smart arses…

I have not a clue how they know that this moment is the exact instant when the class is fully engaged, or how that moment is the precise second before trouble will erupt.

I don’t know. I wish I did.

But it’s not limited to education. Of course not.

I spent a lot of time as a financial controller, and then director, dealing with lawyers; rarely but occasionally litigators. I am utterly perplexed at the level of skill lawyers bring to their profession, the memory they have, the knowledge of where to find the information they need if they don’t have it to hand. How they can finely judge (rightly or wrongly) the strengths of a case against the strengths of the other parties’ strengths.

(I have a teeny tiny understanding of the latter, but it’s a pebble or two on a mountainside. I don’t appreciate it in any meaningful sense.)

Doctors. Where the hell do I start?

Apart from the skills of diagnoses, and the awesome amount patience they have with every patient, every new appointment. The strength of character necessary to deal with ill children, or people at the end of their lives; the astonishing ability to separate out the illness from the person suffering it, while not neglecting that their patient might be shit scared at what’s happening to them.

I mean… the skills, patience and forebearance most – not all, to be fair – of my doctors over the past 54 years have exhibited and shown towards me for a start should qualify each of them for prizes of some sort.

Architects. I have no idea at all how they can design a building with all the details… right.

Zoo keepers.


Continuity Presenters. Civil Engineers. Bricklayers.

Private Investigators. Plumbers.


Politicians. how the hell does anyone do that job? How do you develop the skills and abilities to a) think you can represent thousands of people, including those that not only didn’t vote for you, but never would and b) then do it, and choose to do it again.

Video producers. I worked for a tv company; I watched people put together tv programmes from the raw footage, create an opening titles sequence, and turn it into an interesting, watchable, enjoyable show.

I watched them do it… and still regarded the process and the end result as… some form of magic.

All of the above jobs, I know I can’t appreciate the true nature of the jobs, the genuine vocation so many have for their chosen trades and professions.

I wish, therefore, I understood and appreciated the puzzlement others had for my ow chosen profession for the majority of my adult life.

I once tried to explain my mystified awe to a producer at our shared employer.

He was genuinely amused; he viewed my turning numbers into reports that assisted him run his project, and the fact that his wages got paid into his account every month with equal puzzlement and appreciation. he knew it happened; didn’t have a clue how it happened.

No big ending to this post, no great lesson to learn.

Just something that’s been bothering me recently when I see folks denigrating the skills necessary to do A Job, any Job, and snidely suggesting that anyone could do it…

Something that makes more sense, hopefully, tomorrow.

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to my fifty-fifth birthday on 17th August 2019. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here.