It’s not every day that I get to deny that I am Harry Webb, but today I did. Because I am not him and am – as a point of fact – just me.
Harry was, it seems, a non de plume, used by a teacher who questioned some of the orthodoxies in education.
I’ve taken the attitude that the best place to be is here in plain sight, with my actual name. This means that I cannot be unmasked, but it also means that I need to be judicious in what I say, especially about my work as a teacher. Obviously, you need to be respectful and discreet about students and their families, just as it should be. But you also sometimes need to be circumspect about what your professional opinions are.
In contemporary education, there is a steady stream of orthodoxies and, as a moderately intelligent professional, you are going to believe in some and not in others. I would be astonished to find that any practicing teacher either accepted or rejected the lot. However, there are people in positions of authority who take an extraordinarily dim view of people experiencing doubt about beliefs that they take very seriously. Some live and let live, and others take a more interventionist position.
What I choose to do is praise the things that I find worthwhile and believe in. And, at times, people correctly interpret my silence on particular topics as a lack of enthusiasm, but the only way out of that inference would be to feint belief in things that I don’t believe. And that, for me, is a bridge too far.
However, I do understand why some people use another identity to speak more candidly. Again, this is about swings and roundabouts. You get to be brave and more morally pure than I manage. Until you get uncovered, and then you may very well be subject to some unwelcome interventions into your life.
But for now, I remain Mark O’Meara, and that’s fine with me. And perhaps, just perhaps, it will be fine with you, too.