Last month I sat in the waiting room at my son’s  orthodontist  while his braces were fixed.

A sign on the notice board caught my eye:

64 patients missed their appointments last month and didn’t call to cancel. That’s 16 hours of lost appointments. 

The notice went on to implore patients to do the decent thing and let the receptionist know if they had to cancel. Basic Stuff.  Basic manners.

(For those of you not in the UK – in certain parts of the UK not only are braces free to those who need them, but dental care in general and medicine as a whole is free too.)

64 Missed Appointments. That’s 16 hours of a top earning, highly qualified expert’s time. Wasted.

Here’s the thing. If the patients had to pay for the treatment or were charged for missing an appointment the story would be very different.

And that’s because with anything in life


(Ok, not everything, not love or romance or anything emotional- you know what I mean!)

But how many times as a tutor or teacher have you been asked to do something for no payment? Worked overtime day after day, week after week, month after month and year after year?

Often friends  and acquaintances ask me to have a look over their cousin’s niece’s university application,  their job application, their  essay.  ‘It will only take you five minutes. I’d be there all day’ (As I write this, I’m questioning  if it’s maybe just my friends who do this?)

Don’t get me wrong, I’m more than happy to help on occasion. But like many tutors and teachers who already feel undervalued, it just adds to the feeling of always being squeezed.

After all, would you ask a lawyer friend to have a quick look over your house deeds, a plumber to fit a boiler in his spare time  or  pitch up at a restaurant owned by a friend and expect to eat free? I think not.

So, what’s the  difference ?

We are.

Look at this article I saw recently in a Scottish newspaper. Of course it’s  a universal phenomenon.

Who wouldn’t  want to be described as unselfish?  The world’s teachers and tutors are all unselfish. That I have not truck with, but the last part is painful because well, it’s so true .

Teachers are in some respects their own worst enemies in that they don’t value their time anything like as well as their colleagues in industry and basically give large amounts of it away. 

It’s what we as teachers do. WE give and we give and we give. And it’s great to give and give and give. Over deliver. But not for free.

We all have our areas of expertise and we should be rewarded appropriately.  When what we can do can change the course of a young person’s life- It’s on us to sort it out.