Working for love

Tim Kyng (
Sun, 12 Apr 1998 20:17:03 -0700

In my original message on this subject I raised two basic questions: 1. Is it
moral to undercut the wages and conditions of teachers and other staff by
"working for love" at progressive schools? 2. Is it fair to the kids?

I don't think it makes much difference to question 1 whether the staff are
asked to work for love simply in the first year of the school, or the first
year of their employment. The principle is the same. And would it be true
that, after working for love in the first year of a new school, everyone
in fact goes on to standard rates?

As for the second question, is it fair to the kids, my answer, from personal
experience is definitely no. I wrote my message from the point of view of a
pupil at a progressive school. I don't have any experience of working in
such a school, but the most important years of my childhood were spent at
Summerhill, and I base my question on that.

I hasten to add that I wouldn't have missed Summerhill for anything. It
suited me very well. However, there was by no means a wide enough range of
subjects, and the turnover of teachers, and the extended periods when certain
subjects were not available, left me weak in some that I enjoyed, such as
mathematics. And many of my friends left inadequately prepared for the
outside world. To some extent this was due to a mistaken ideology that
equates persuasion with compulsion, hence a policy of "hands off" no matter
at what price; but a great deal of the problem was caused by sub-standard

If you pay sub-standard wages, you are likely to get sub-standard service.
Isn't that a basic tenet of the free market? (Incidentally, has anyone heard
of a free market that has ever really existed in any country in the world?
The idea is a myth.) I can't say I would like to be operated on by a
surgeon who was "working for love" - nor take an international flight on a
plane with a pilot working below the standard rate because of his/her love of
flying. There is a good word for those who "work for love" - amateurs.