Continuing Education

Christine O'Mahony: You Can’t be a Teacher

Christine O’Mahony was born in 1952 in Northampton. As a young child Christine spent time in Nazareth House children’s homes with her two sisters, before returning to family life in Camden, London aged five. Christine attended local C of E and Catholic primary schools and a local Catholic Secondary School, also spending time in hospital aged seven.

Here Christine describes studying and being told she couldn’t be a teacher because she was deaf.

  • Christine O'Mahony
  • Christine O'Mahony
  • Christine O'Mahony


I’d had this child and I thought, I’m going to have to support her, so I need to get a proper education, so I decided to do this kind of 'degree by independent study' that they’re offering at North East London Poly, which is now East London University I think. I always was interested in teaching and I knew I wanted to be a teacher, but – and I’d gone there with the premise that I wanted to do this degree and become a teacher and I’d started the course and that was my goal, I was going to do education and then I was going to do teacher training as fourth year.

And then I’m sort of some way into the course, one of the college or university people came to me and said, ‘You do know you won’t be allowed to be a teacher don’t you, a classroom teacher?’ and I said, ‘What?’ and they said, ‘They don’t let deaf people be classroom teachers,’ and I was completely devastated, it had never occurred to me that I would not be allowed to and that was the rule, you could be blind and be a teacher but you couldn’t be deaf and be a teacher at that time. And I was absolutely distraught, you know, because that was what I wanted to be and I’d always wanted to be really and I’d always seen what teachers could and couldn’t do, you know, and always seen betters ways to do it than my teachers, you know, and thought about the process and stuff like that and I couldn’t believe they weren’t going to let me be one, you know.

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