This Much I Know: John Sharpson, Teacher - Home School Hub on RTÉ

I was a complete messer in school.
This Much I Know: John Sharpson, Teacher - Home School Hub on RTÉ

John Sharpson
John Sharpson

I was a complete messer in school.

I didn’t see the importance of education and had to be dragged through the Leaving Cert.

I only discovered that I loved teaching when I worked on the GAA club summer camps. I became a primary teacher, studying at St. Patricks College and got my teaching degree in London.

My biggest challenge has been coping with a mental health issue. When I was made permanent, at Mary Mother of Hope in Clonee, although I loved teaching there, I felt deflated, like, is this it until I’m 65 and can retire? Out of nowhere, I began to get severe panic attacks. The first episode was whilst I was reading to 5th class, my heart rate soared and I had run out of the room. Then, when I was playing hurling, I was convinced I was going to colllapse from sudden adult death syndrome and had to suddenly leave the pitch, pretending I’d pulled a muscle.

It was a long journey to recovery. I tried many different things as you will try anything when you are desperate. In the end, talk therapy, CBT and simply speaking to other people who’d had similar experiences all helped. We figured out that it was stress - I was doing too much at the time - and maybe the feeling of being trapped in my job, that was the trigger. I took a career break, to see what else was out there.

I fell into presenting children's television (RTÉjr’s Bright Sparks, The Today Show with Dáithí and Maura, Pop Goes the Weekend and Twigín) and, after a five year break, I was to go back to my old job last September but decided to resign instead. I recently went looking for a mortgage and they told me I was crazy to have left a permanent position - yes, they turned me down! But, I enjoy what I’m doing and, despite the lockdown I am the busiest I’ve ever been.

I love doing Home School Hub on RTÉ2, although we were so nervous before the first episode, we were unsure if it would work.

I was a very outgoing child and like to think that I was a bit of a rascal, you know, that the teachers actually still liked me. As a result, I find it hard to discipline similar kids, because I was that kid! But, I’ve found what works with hyperactive children is to say that I can see they’re giddy and full of energy - but if they promise to concentrate for a few more minutes, I will give them a few more minutes in the yard later - that sort of thing.

The personality trait I admire most is others is sincerity. I’d prefer a bit of slagging to people being overly, falsely nice.

If I could be reborn as someone else for a day I’d be Ole Gunnar Solskjær during the 1999 League final between Manchester United and Bayern Munich when he scored a second goal in extra time to win the Champions League. I was twelve and it was the most important game I’d ever seen.

The thing that irritates me most about others is two-facedness. I prefer having a confrontation and sorting things out to having people backbiting. I’m afraid to say that I think women are worse at this then men.

If I could change one thing on the school curriculum, I’d emphasise the importance of physical activity.

I do believe in an afterlife. I was brought up Catholic and was an altar boy for years and, despite its drawbacks, still believe.

My idea of misery is an office job where I have to sit in front of a screen all day.

I met my partner Aideen when we were presenting You Tube videos together and do believe in a type of fate, that meetings like that are meant to happen.

My idea of bliss is being out and about - kicking a ball of any description around the place - I’m 32 now and down the line I want the normal things: a nice house and a lovely wife and family.

So far life has taught me that you don’t have to remain in a job, or situation, if it is crushing your soul. There are alternatives.

Tune in to Home School Hub on RTÉ2, each morning from 11am to noon where John and his colleagues, bilingual teachers all, present three short segments for primary school classes, with a catch-up programme later in the day, RTÉ Home School Extra at 4.15pm.

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