Israeli Teacher's Blog: I'd Like to Spray Class With Machine Gun

A math teacher wrote on online journal dealing with many of the burdens of teaching in Israel.

"I feel like spraying the classroom with a submachine gun just to get some peace and quiet." This statement appears on the blog of someone who goes to a Tel Aviv junior high everyday - but he is not a student.

The author of these disturbing lines is a math teacher whose strongly worded online journal deals with many of the difficulties burdening teachers in Israeli schools, and also mirrors some of their attitudes.

On his blog, "Benny" (using a pseudonym) wrote that he would settle for a softened version of his fantasy. "After the mess that went on yesterday, I am giving a citation to anyone who gets up, speaks without permission or throws something in class. First time - warning. Second time - citation in their personal files. Third - removal from classroom." He later posted on the site: "Silence. I began teaching. It was a splendid class. Terror works."

Benny, a former high-tech executive, began teaching in March. He quit his job last week, though, after eight months of teaching - during which time he posted quite a few blog entries that addressed, among other things, discipline, the difficulty of reaching all his pupils, the workload and his frustration and feeling of isolation.

Since informing readers of his decision to quit, Benny's posts have made the rounds, with teachers across the country e-mailing them to one another, accompanied by either words of solidarity or reservation.

In an interview with Haaretz, the blogger - who preferred that his real name be withheld - said he joined the educational system not out of ideals, but out of financial necessity. Yet one of his early posts indicates that he signed on with some enthusiasm, and even hope.

"There are advantages to this job," he wrote in one of his first entries."You can work close to home, be with the kids from the afternoon on and you get to work within your own community. The salary is indeed a problem, but it seems one can make it work. In short, it's quite perfect."

But this was soon replaced with "depression and exhaustion." "The kids killed me," he wrote. "They barely noticed when I walked in, let alone stood up. Punishments didn't deter them either. Nothing worked, nearly nothing was taught."

The school where Benny taught hired him after one trial session, and even though he does not have a teaching certificate - in violation of Education Ministry protocol. One of his readers wrote that his lack of teaching experience may have been his undoing. "Knowing the material is important, self confidence is crucial, but that is not enough to succeed in teaching," the reader said.

In one of his later posts, Benny wrote: "I am devastated emotionally and physically. The pressure is intolerable, the pupils allow themselves not to listen and then complain that they don't understand the material because I'm a bad teacher. I find myself talking into the void."

"Teaching means working close to home. That much is true," he wrote in summation. "But a relaxed job and convenient hours? Forget it."