My Name Is…

April 8, 2016 at 2:06 pm (Uncategorized)

One of the most exciting things for me about leaving teaching is that I will be reclaiming my name.  No longer shall I be called “Miss” – a name I hate.  Finally I shall be an individual with a name that feels personal and specific to me again.

Firstly I must explain my point of view on the word itself. It is what the rather old fashioned of you will consider misplaced (yes I giggled while I typed that) feminism.  I consider it to be the height of ridicuolusness that women are still expected to designate their marital status on being addressed and have to change their name dependent on it. Call me a grumpy old spinster if you like, but I have (and always will be) Ms Hunt.  It sends a ridiculous message to young women that marriage is somehow a status that must be attained in order to “upgrade” your name.  Boys all grow up knowing they will be Mr forever and they do not have to be questioned about it every time they give their name.  Women find themselves in perpetual state of gloating, apologising, being strident or whatever suits them when giving their name.  The point is not the emotion they display but the fact they have to display an emotion to justify their status. On more occassions than should happen in the 21st century, me saying my name is “Ms” has led to the response”are you a lesbian or divorced?” as if those were the only possible options.

However I digress.  I will not begrudge a room full of schoolchildren calling me “Miss” as has been the tradition for hundreds of years.  It is how the convention goes and that is fine.  In the world of busy secondary schools with high staff turnover many students genuinely do not know the name of their teacher and so “Miss” or “Sir” is the only option.  Now say those two words out loud and think which would you rather be called.  One conveys a sense of authority, one does not.  I am with Captain Janeway on this one.  It is better to be called Sir any day of the week than Miss. Google has quickly provided me a definition of Miss “a girl or young woman, especially one regarded as silly or headstrong”.  It does not make you feel in control to be called “Miss” day in and day out.

But the real cuplrits are not the centuries of tradition or the small children too confused to remember a name.  No it’s the adults.  The other members of staff.  Now if you work in a large organisatin of course you do not know everybody’s name.  However you still smile and say morning in the corridor (or at least I hope you do!) but in a school colleagues will walk past and say “morning, miss”.  It’s not necessary.  If you do not know my name just smile and say morning. And if you do know my name USE IT! Yes there is a professionalism that dictates (for some weird reason) we do not say each other’s first names in front of the students but that’s no reason not to use my full “teacher name” in the corridor.

And then finally in the ninth circle of hell are those members of staff (and yes they are largely male) who call you “Miss” behind closed doors.  In meeting or emails when there is no possible way they do not know your real name they still refer to you as “Miss”.  For seven years I have pushed down the anger I have felt every time I have sent an email to a male colleague, starting it with “Dear Bobby” and ended it “from Caroline” and received a response that starts “Miss”.  I have refrained (wisely) from telling members of SLT that I will not carry out their request until they address me by given name rather than a generic one that suggests they have no idea who I am.  But now I am finally free to stand up to people and say “please – call me Caroline” once more.

And it feels blooming awesome 🙂

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