There is a growing concern about the struggles of early career teachers and an understandable questioning of the preparation being offered by teacher education courses. Are our preservice teachers being given workable strategies and techniques to allow them to survive the early years? Is it strategies and techniques that are primarily at issue here? Could it be that there is something more fundamental, to do with an underlying philosophical understanding about human nature, the desire to learn and the need to relate? I want to suggest that instruction about strategies and techniques is too often built on an insecure and incompatible foundation of assumptions about the nature of the world of sentient beings and their relationships. Ontology matters. Philosopher Spinoza divided the world of thought into ideas that were adequate – contributing to our well-being, potency and happiness – and those that were inadequate – leading us to feel weak, at the mercy of outside forces, and sad. I want to argue, with Spinoza, that inadequate ontologies lead to a sense of impotence and frustration, and that adequate ideas – a stronger ontology – can underpin and sustain a more durable pedagogy. I explore this idea by looking at some classroom events through a Spinozean lens.