One of the most common assumptions about TeachFirst is that its name is premised on the idea that participants “Teach First, Then Do Something Later”. It’s an annoying assumption though, because it’s not true.
Brett Wigdortz, CEO of TeachFirst, explained how the organisation got its name during the Sunday Times Education Festival this weekend.
Back when TF was but a twinkle in Brett’s eye he received much support from LondonFirst – an organisation, that still exists, and aims to ‘make London the best city in the world in which to do business’. Given Brett’s idea was to make London a great city in which to teach (this was 2002, and London faced mass teacher shortages), he thought it a good idea to call the programme TeachLondonFirst. As time wore on, the team realised TeachLondonFirst might one day want to expand into other areas and so they dropped the ‘London’ part. Thus was born TeachFirst.
The name is therefore not a hint to the programme as a stepping stone; it is not a claim that their teachers are the ‘first best’; quite simply it was pragmatically named after an organisation that never once had to deal with people saying “LondonFirst? Do you mean LIVE IN LONDON FIRST THEN MOVE SOMEWHERE ELSE? HUR HUR HURRR….”
Asked at Edu Festival whether he wished he’d picked another name, Brett admitted that it would probably be better if the organisation wasn’t called TeachFirst. But he also pointed out that the brand has strong recognition and it would be too difficult to change it now. Hence, we are where we are with the name – but that’s no reason for people to keep making the same (incorrect) assumption.