Whilst rooting around in a local charity bookshop today, I came across a real treasure: Recipes for Teachers. It appears to be a collection of recipes put together to help busy teachers get through the working week. I haven’t tried any of the recipes, but I’m certainly going to have a go at some of them next week! I’ll let you know how I get on, but in the meantime, I thought I’d share with you some examples from the book. Maybe you could try making them yourself, or maybe you’ve used some of these recipes before? Let me know in the comments. Bon appétit!
That’s because they are all fads. Now if you want to make a real change in your life, the principles of tycche are what you need.
Tycche is a Finnish word that is used when one has achieved the perfect work/life balance. It is simultaneously an art, a practice, a feeling and state of being. It is something that you achieve, you do, you feel and you are. You can’t buy it. But you can buy a book about it, priced at £14.99. In fact, you need to buy the book to have even a vague idea of what it is. You probably still won’t be entirely sure after you’ve read the book, though, such is its nebulous quality. This means we can probably whack out a few more volumes to sell to you before you get bored of it.
There is no literal English translation for the concept of tycche (pronounced tee-chuh), but it is often used to represent a combination of various ideas – ideas such as: surviving, coping, getting by, feeling a fleeting sense of confidence or achievement before it ebbs away, balancing on a tightrope, not giving up just yet, marking, and cake. It’s widely believed that the word comes from the old Sami phrase tycco lek che – literally “sod this, I’m having a sit down”.
Tycche can be achieved through a set of simple daily rituals, both in and out of the classroom. Here, we’ll take you through some of the things that you can do to feel, achieve, do and be tycche.
The key to drinking your way to tycche is in embracing tepid as an acceptable temperature for drinks that other (normal) people might call ‘hot drinks’. Once you see lukewarm tea and coffee as not only acceptable but actually desirable, you will no longer feel that deep melancholy that you currently feel whilst tossing back unpalatable gulps from the mug on your desk. You will instead feel a sense of satisfaction. That feeling is tycche.
So you’ve been teaching all day, been on duty, had a meeting, and now you have planning and marking to do. But before you do that, you think you’ll just check your emails and spend a couple of minutes dealing with replies. And then you see it: 42 unread emails. How can you possibly deal with this much information? The replies alone will take about half an hour. Half an hour which you haven’t got. This is where the principles of tycche can help.
According to the laws of tycche, rather than spending time replying to your emails now, you should flag the most important emails for reply later. You must promise yourself that you will definitely reply when you get some time. Don’t worry, you won’t actually reply later, as there will be another 42 emails in your inbox by then and these first emails will have magically (that’s the power of tycche) disappeared onto the second page to be forgotten about until someone sends you a reminder at some point. But the key is in truly believing that you will reply: your good intentions are important here. Tycche will take care of the rest.
In order to achieve tycche you need to ensure that you have hobbies – that is to say, pursuits that you undertake in your spare time. However, the problem that many teachers have is that it is difficult to find that spare time when snowed under with excessive workload. But that’s no excuse because: as it is a central tenet of the practice of tycche, one must undertake hobbies. The balance is easily met though, by simply making marking your hobby. By taking on marking as a pastime, you are able to enjoy your hobby every single day and complete your work. The perfect work/life balance.
The key to finding true balance is for you to visualise all the sources of your current stress sitting on one side of a set of weighing scales. Go ahead, do it now. On the pan, you place every repetitive email, every piece of marking using excessive criteria, every data dump, every exhaustive spreadsheet, every lunchtime detention… put it all on.
Now, you just balance out the other side of the scales with cake. Lots of it. Fill the other pan with chocolate brownies, Battenberg, Viennese whirls, jam tarts, millionaire’s shortcake, sponge cake, cream cake, red velvet cake… then drizzle it all with salted caramel until the scales are perfectly balanced.
This isn’t just an act of visualisation, though. To truly find tycche, you must eat actual cake every time your workload increases, every time someone dumps some extra work on you. Have to reply to some emails? Eat a Jaffa cake. Need to mark a load of mock exams? Eat some iced buns. Need to go to the photocopier? Take a chocolate Swiss roll with you. You must keep workload and cake in perfect balance with each other: that’s tycche.
If you are struggling to make the work/life balance of tycche through any of these practices, simply open a bottle of wine. About half a bottle in, you’ll feel it: tycche.
The Little Book of Tycche by Skinni Lahti is available from all good bookshops for £14.99.*
*Spending fifteen quid of your hard-earned money on this book, plus spending 6 hours reading it are actually both in contradiction of the rules of tycche and will throw your life back out of balance. Luckily, that can be remedied with the The Second Little Book of Tycche, which will be out in hardback in time for Christmas at £20.99.
Volume One of our handy glossary of commonly-used terms in U.K. education was such a success that our publishers have rushed out the second volume. We hope that you find this a useful tool in navigating the debates and discussion around education, both online and in real world situations.
the action of gathering a group of children together in order to watch a short video of an athlete doing something inspiring to uplifting music.
Bjork, Robert A.
/bjɔːk/, ˈrɒbət ˈeɪ/
cognitive psychologist, famous for his work on learning, memory and forgetting, and for his hit single “It’s Oh So Quiet”, which spent 15 weeks in the U.K. singles chart in 1995; he was hoping you’d forgotten about that.
main fuel source of teachers during the latter weeks of a term; as a child, cake is something that someone buys you on your birthday; as a teacher, cake is something that you have to buy for everyone in your department on your own birthday; how did that happen?
Chartered College of Teaching
/ˈtʃɑːtəd ˈkɒlɪdʒ ɒv ˈtiːtʃɪŋ/
see General Teaching Council for England (GTC).
Dead Poet’s Society
/dɛd ˈpəʊɪtz səˈsʌɪɪti/
elaborate teacher recruitment video from the late 1980s; data shows that the two-thirds of teachers who remain in the profession after five years only stay on in the hope that their pupils will one day stand on their desks and declare “O Captain! My Captain!” at them.
punishment given out to teachers whereby they have to give up their break time, lunchtime or after school to spend time with someone who has previously been rude to them or otherwise ignored their instructions.
for a clear understanding of the way that enquiry learning works, see entry for inquiry learning.
GCSE results day
/ˈdʒiːˈsiːˈɛsˈiː rɪˈzʌltz deɪ/
the second most exciting day in the school calendar, after stationery order delivery day.
a powerful incantation used as a magic word; legend has it that, if SLT and the board of governors hold hands in a circle with their eyes closed and chant the words ‘growth mindset’ three times, when they open their eyes the DfE will have made further cuts to their school budget.
for a clear understanding of the way that inquiry learning works, see entry for enquiry learning.
(Oops, sorry, I totally forgot to do this one – Ed.)
a Rorschach inkblot, often associated with a curriculum, which can be interpreted to mean absolutely anything a person sees in it when they look at it.
the mental attitude or disposition that predetermines a person’s responses to and interpretations of a situation; according to psychologists, there are three types: fixed and growth (Dweck), and dirty (Freud).
principle weapon of torture, used by teachers who don’t take children’s feelings into account (cf. the marking pen chart below, showing the range colours preferable to use when marking); red pen is also famously mentioned in the old adage of teacher lore that goes, “Red pen at night: normal. Red pen in the morning: I fell asleep doing my marking last night.”
retention deficit disorder (RDD)
an employment disorder that can be found in the U.K. education sector; it is characterised by a person openly lamenting teacher turnover whilst they are simultaneously creating the conditions that cause teachers to leave their jobs, e.g., “Justine Greening spoke earnestly about the ‘challenges on recruitment and retention, but also on workload’, just before she announced a funding formula that will see 98% of state schools’ funding cut.”
process in which children show that they have had enough of the topic being studied; this is sometimes done by the pupil displaying an emoticon of a smiley face, or through the use of traffic light colours, but is more commonly achieved by the children putting their thumbs up, as pioneered by Scottish pupil James Krankie in the late 1970s (see image below); however, it should be noted that Krankie is still at school some 40 years later, which may be an indication that this method is a flawed way of gauging a pupil’s learning.