Reasons why Fran Googles 'Discount Botox deals' on a regular basis

I wrote this article for the Times Educational Supplement in 2010.  I wasn't quite fifty then.  My, my, it resonates even more now.    

Teaching is the elixir of youth?  Pass the cocoa ...

They say being a teacher keeps you young, and to someone pushing 50 who says, "Gosh, is that policeman old enough to be out alone?" this could be fantastic news. If only they didn't just mean inner youthfulness. I could do with outer help; the anti-wrinkle creams and the "give-you-a-fake-waist" vests don't do the job they used to.
I will be interested to see just how young teaching can keep us when we don't get our pensions until we hit 96. There comes a point, surely, when no matter how many teenagers you meet each day, if you can't hear them, see them or remember their names, the benefits of being kept young at heart are limited.
Still, I'm seeing a money-spinner here, and you can peruse my new website to pre-order a handy whiteboard pen bag which can hang from your Zimmer frame. I've also designed a range of securely lidded coffee mugs emblazoned: "I may tremble, but, boy, can I still teach". Bound to be a top seller, too, are my smart suits, made in association with Damart from cosy, striped dressing-gown material. They go well with the new "of-course-they're-not-slippers" range of fur-trimmed shoes.
But is it true? Will teaching really keep me young? Or will exposure to teenagers merely, by juxtaposition, emphasise how old and fusty I'm getting?
When I'm persuading students to notice how words are juxtaposed and why, I use a practical illustration. I ask for a very short volunteer to stand at the front. I say to the class, "Is she short? Of course we can see she is short. But what would tell us just how short?" Then I invite a very tall volunteer to stand next to her. "Ah, now we can see how short!"
See? Surely being in a classroom with agile and toned youngsters all day will only draw more attention to my bingo wings.
It's not only that. I'm way behind on techno-knowledge, highlighted by Year 10's amusement when I "discovered" the No Show button on our data projector remote control. I could hide what was on the screen? Eat your heart out, Captain Cook - this was a whole new world. In the end, the class sighed: "Miss, please stop clicking it on and off. You'll give us a migraine."
Also, a recent attempt to enlighten a Year 12 English language class of girls that "bachelorette" was the new term for "spinster" met with polite yawns. They had been using the word for years.

And, if only I could force myself to keep up with teenage culture and read Twilight, I would realise it wasn't just coincidence that all the main characters in Year 7's recent story-writing were called Bella and Edward.
Having said this, when I double-checked the Twilight characters' names with my 19-year-old daughter, she confirmed that they were indeed Bella and Edward, then moaned: "Oh, how I hate myself for knowing that!"
So, maybe it's not just an age thing, after all. Okay, I feel better. But a nice cup of cocoa will help, too. I'll put the kettle on.

I don't write for the TES these days, but if you want to peruse any of my columns for them about education, most of them are listed here. The funny side of teaching as seen in Fran's columns


  1. Anonymous27/9/14 14:41

    You're not alone, you know. I've been pushing 50 for 30 years now--but from the other side!!

    1. It's good to know there are fellow sufferers.

  2. I'm glad you vented and now feel better. Enjoy your cocoa.

    1. Venting is so good for the soul. That will keep me happy now for at least ... oh ... a day or so.

  3. "And if you should survive to a hundred and five
    Look at all you'll derive out of bein' alive
    And here is the best part, you have a head start
    If you are among the very young at heart"

    1. I'm guessing that's from a song. A hundred and five? No thanks ... Even if I was young at heart still, looking like a raisin wouldn't make up for it.

  4. A crowd of young teenage girls descended on the library , the other day . They seemed as exotic as a flock of parakeets .
    I don't need Botox ... I just need to get out more .

  5. I didn't know Bella and Edward. I know the characters in Harry Potter, though, and can cast a couple of spells.


    1. Do you know a 'make a 52 year old look like a 32 year old' spell? If so, send by return of post.

    2. I can't send it that way. You have to provide me with a first-class plane ticket to England and pay for my food and lodging. Then I'll cast the spell.

  6. I don't care too much about the way I look, from where I'm standing, I can't see me anyway.
    Mirror? What's that?


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