Being the change you want to see

“You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink”, said every demotivated teacher ever about every demotivated student that ever existed.

Every year, for every teacher, the beginning of the Easter holidays is the calm before the storm. It is the peaceful time of reflection and hopefully some nicer weather before the shit that is the A-Level, GCSE and SATS exams well and truly hits the fan. As we embark on silly season, I would much rather encourage my students to want to learn and see the benefits of learning, rather than forcing them to learn through the threat of sanctions, detentions, punishments, whatever you call them.

With the first approach we develop independent, resourceful, problem solving people who can quantify and visualise the value gained from the investment of their labour. With the second approach, all we end up creating is a set of caged animals who have been bullied in a prison that they have been forced to attend each and every day against their will and shown how to jump through hoops like monkeys to pass an exam.

Now my question is this. Which type of person is more likely to be financially independent? Which type of person is more likely to be a wage slave? How do you perceive your schooling to be?

Much has been made about the Coalition and Conservative governments move to “rigourous assessment”* and the general abolition of BTECs, and to a certain extent I agree with them. Anyone who thought it was acceptable that we can let poor kids leave shit schools with BTEC’s supposedly worth “3 GCSE A equivalents” is an idiot. Well if anyone thinks “rigour” is making people learn the dates of every king and queen, learn poems, times tables and science formulae by rote without any contextual understanding is equally an idiot.

We have now found ourselves in a state where we are teaching our children to swan throughout the world without questioning, analysing, and having any freedom of thought. The wage slavery of the masses is rooted in our schools.

I can’t deny that the better half was a little less than enthused when I listed the sacrifices we would need to make to achieve FIRE. I think it’s fair to say that limited holidays, no credit card use, walking more, shopping at quality save and B&M, consuming less and eating out less failed to get the adrenaline pumping. So I am taking the approach of trying to “Be the change I want to see”. I won’t lie and say this has been easy for me. There are times when I have got frustrated and my chimp thinks she is deliberately driving the car everywhere to make me work longer, which I know is stupid! I am far too obsessed with tracking the day to day spending. She grumbles everytime I overpay the mortgage or “squirrel all our money away”. “Life is for living” she repeats. This is all fair and I get that. We are aligned with our views about cars and how they are purchased, the use of credit cards, and not wasting food, but that is where our alignment somewhat ends. She probably thinks an index fund is a pot of cash for purchasing items from the Index catalogue. Remember that? Only down the line will she see the benefits of investing over time and building a wealth snowball to at the very worst care for her when she is old and frail and at best allow us to retire early. I can show her the light along the way by “being the change I want to see” or shine it brightly in her eyes. I would be lying if I haven’t tried to shine the light in her eyes on a few occasions, but deep down I know which one will produce a caged animal that will try to escape….

I know time, patience and perseverance will deliver the panacea that is financial independence for my family. Maybe we will end up having a nice Yin and Yang approach of a happy balance of her thinking for happiness now and me thinking about happiness down the line….

This is not an exit.

*My spine tingles everytime I hear that twat Gove utter the words “rigour”


Author: Quitting Teaching

Love teaching. Hate workload. Hate bureaucracy. Can't do this till I'm 67. Need to retire early

14 thoughts on “Being the change you want to see”

  1. … and you can lead a horticulture but you cannot make her think. 😉
    The reason why so few people become financially independent IMHO is that it requires a curious mix of traits. One has to be a bit of a rebel to reject the accepted carpe diem, buy that car / toy / etc. plus the Calvinist definition of useful human endeavour, be low enough on the social conformity scale to resist the toys the Joneses buy, AND have the level of self control bordering on a personality disorder. In our culture the rebel is oft associated with low impulse control, and It doesn’t help that cerain teachers at times attempt to pair children’s learning with instant gratification in the form of stars and stickers distributed in classrooms (a social situation), add to this nitwit parents who don’t know how to say no themselves let alone teach it to their children…. This doesn’t help us learn how to save our marshmallows. I was lucky with my teachers, but that’s not the case with everyone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree – a lot of teachers are short sighted. In fact a few years ago under New Labours instruction, Ofsted wanted to see instant new learning in an inspection. Teachers would deliberately show a question that the class couldn’t do (which the class had been told to write nothing about), teach them how to do it, give them the same question again, and voila! There is learning taking place. It was the most complete farce I have ever experienced in teaching and I will admit I have in my early days done it myself. It was instant gratification from a learning perspective. I guess now, as much as I hated Gove, his influence is still showing in the DfE and the focus for schools and the inspectors is now “learning over time”. I guess one thing some schools are doing right is making it clear to children that there is no quick wins, but there is still a focus on learning by rote and with little conceptual understanding.
      There are no quick wins with FIRE, and like learning, it is a patient process with no instant gratification, but with no conceptual understanding of what is actually going on, then we are doomed to wage slavery.
      If we raise our children in a culture of instant gratification (in lessons and on X factor) then that will no doubt result in adults addicted to instant gratification which will lead to credit cards and debt.


  2. Learning if you want to learn is much better than being forced to learn, as I have once more discovered myself a few months ago. At school, I also found it hard to cope with the attitude of the other pupils around me: bored, not willing to learn. I liked some subjects and found them interesting but didn’t want to show it too much and participate too actively in class because of this.

    My boyfriend’s back in uni and enjoys learning as he has chosen to go back studying. Also, he has read a lot about how to learn effectively (pomodoro technique etc.). He is currently off classes for 3 weeks but continues learning (doing online courses of other unis), just because he likes to aquire new knowledge.
    Yesterday he stopped me from spending money saying “think of your saving rate!”, I really loved that. I’m curious to see how his attitude towards money will be once he will not be on a student’s budget any more.

    I featured your article on


  3. How to counter instant gratification though and how do you teach patience? I can only think of tortoise and hare scenarios but is that too old fashioned for today’s children?

    It made me smile when you made mention of your ‘chimp’ – mine used to bug me a lot but fortunately, rarely makes an appearance these days!


    1. Have you seen the marshmallow experiment? I think it’s a marshmallow anyway. The parent puts a marshmallow in front of a 5 year old child in an empty room and says “I’m going to leave the room. You can have that marshmallow now or that and one more in ten minutes if you don’t touch it”. That would do the trick to teach anti-instant-gratification-ness to little ones but 11-16 year olds? Who knows!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Agree the rote learning is madness, absolute waste of time, apart from the times tables that is, this I think is really an essential part of mental maths and helps get a good feel for numbers, v useful if you are investing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Matthew,
      I don’t know this for certain as I am not Maths, but I have a feeling that learning your times tables isn’t really understanding how they work. It’s like knowing every date of the key battles in ww2 but not knowing why it all kicked off. Who is more knowledgable, the person who knows the date of the Ardenne offensive or the person who understands why it was successful? I don’t know if pupils learning their tables helps with maths ability later on. Of course basic numeracy is essential for those seeking financial independence.
      Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.


  5. Good post. We have come to a similar conclusion about the current education system ourselves over the last few years and are now home educating our youngest 2 children.


    1. This is becoming more and more common, especially for pupils who get excluded from academies. They get lost. But more and more parents are choosing to home educate. Previously the Local Education Authority handled exclusions, but the system is so fragmented now that they are getting forgotten about. It could be the next mini scandal.
      So the question is now…do you think your children are more likely to be better law abiding self sufficient citizens being home educated? Do you think they are more likely to be FI?


      1. Children who are ‘forced’ into home education through exclusion are not likely to be better law abiding self sufficient citizens, but we are aiming to give our children an education to equip them with the life skills they will need including real life financial education. I think they will definitely reach FI far earlier as a result.


  6. Sorry I didn’t mean to draw parallels between those who make a choice and those who are forced into home education. There is a huge difference. Rich dad poor dad made me rethink the whole school system and how it is set up to create happy idiots. Thanks for your comments


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