Friday, 14 June 2013

A lesson well taught.

Like with many people, teachers have shaped my life, through school and through uni, helping me to learn the subjects which interested me and those which were necessary through life, and directing me along a path that would carry my interests through from academic transcripts into the rest of life.
In addition I seem to gravitate towards them naturally. It's in my nurture. You see my parents are teachers, so was an ex-boyfriend. My London housemates are teachers, converged in one city to experience the hell of teaching London children, as were many of the friends I made travelling around Europe at the end of my stay.

Seeing a small collection of my old teachers at my high school reunion and recalling to mind many others who I had not seen in so many years made me realise just how much they shaped my memories of school, and how much I have to thank them for. These were the ones who embodied entire years or subjects, or shaped a continued disinterest in various fields. And yet they were also the ones who encouraged interactions, team-based 'learning' and applied everyday matters to the topic at hand.
  • One of my earliest teachers was my year one teacher; a brilliant teacher, if a little scatterbrained, who would engross the class so completely in activities that the changeover into new periods would have been missed completely. But she was a teacher who knew how to get the most out of the small charges in her control. Comparing her to my sister's year one teacher a few years later made her dedication and skill all the more striking.
  • A early primary school teacher who took over our class in term two only to find the entire class had taken a dislike to her because she was different from our term one teacher. She persevered and opened up a world of art and make-believe before our very eyes and taught us to watch the world grow through tiny plots of garden just outside the classroom door. 
  • A carefree, relaxed man who somehow managed to teach in spite of a tendency to wander in and out of classrooms that weren't his own kicking a footy. 
  • A teacher with a pride in our achievements, all our achievements and plastered every inch of the walls and windows with our creations. 
  • The English/History teacher who knew our names, who knew each and every one of us and encouraged us to expand ourselves. He had an open door policy to his office and we love him enough that me may have abused the privilege ever so slightly. He gave the impression of putting the students first and when he was promoted made a point of wandering the school yard at lunchtime interacting with anyone and everyone. 
  • A History teacher who recognised and encouraged(?) the dynamics of her class and allowed them to shape the class for three consecutive years. Whether it was rivalry, combative spirits or something else its hard to say, but in at least one of those years it prompted our progress. 
  • A Human Biology teacher who made understanding elements of the human body easier through the use of examples from her son's life... who just happened to be one of our classmates. 
  • A short term student teacher who gained the respect of her year 10 class and successfully taught us an understanding of Romeo and Juliet. Though I only like the play for the memories of those classes. 

However unfortunately memories also surfaces of those teachers whom you remember for all the wrong reasons. Those who consistently failed to control the class, those who remain little more than comic figures running through familiar settings. A few were unique though: 
  • One was a Maths teacher who was a brilliant teacher of maths and ensured you learnt every concept completely. However this was achieved though fear to the extent that no one liked him as a person and anyone who had to deal with him outside of maths lessons felt as though they were constantly on tenterhooks. 
  • The other most memorable one was a physics teacher who has left me with a complete lack of understanding of physics. His class taught me the importance of the circle in meditation, the words to  Monty Python's Galaxy Song and comprised an assignment: 'research the influence the ruling planet of you star sign has on you life'. I never did learn physics, but I got an awful lot of writing done in that class. 
Going back and seeing my old teachers again make me realise how significantly they contributed to my education, not just academically, but to my education as a person, as an informal teacher and to my appreciation of the cultural heritage, history, natural beauty of the world in which we live and the opportunities open to us if we only think to look for them.

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