Those Who Can, Teach

22 Jul

*This post has been amended since first blogged due to Dave’s concern that if he was teacher in question, he wouldn’t like to be discussed close to a photo of Hitler. Fair point, but I don’t think he’s going to read it…..*

Teachers play an important part in the shaping of little minds into the adults you become, and it’s funny how comments and things that children see have a great impact on the way we act and the people we turn into. We start off like little balls of clay and over time people indent their impressions into us until we become a canvas of patterns and shapes; finger prints left like bruises from the people who have had the most affect on us.

At the weekend Lillypad caught a little bit of Harry Potter on the TV. She is three and therefore Harry Potter is a bit advanced for her, but her Auntie was watching it and she saw a tiny bit. She couldn’t get to sleep that night because she thought there was a snake living under her bed.

I had a similar experience when I was four. I was in infant school and I remember the teacher reading a story about a man who stole dreams. Hardly a story to be reading to infant school children, but at the time I slept in the top bunk of bunk beds, and when the door was open it created a right angled triangle of space in the gap. At night time it was unknown; an inky black space in the shadows of my bedroom and I was convinced for years that if the door was open the man who stole the dreams would be waiting there to catch my innocent young dreams, like butterflies in a jar, and I have slept with the door shut ever since. I’m now twenty five, and not scared that my dreams will get stolen, but so used to having the door shut that I can’t sleep with it open.

But the worst teacher I ever had will be my secondary school French teacher. When classes were drawn each September the entire top set would look at each other with a haunted look in their eye and mentally chant the same phrase… “Not Mr InsertNameHere….not Mr InsertNameHere”. Low and behold, for the five years I studied French, I was always in his class. He struck fear into the hearts of the meanest of students, and you could often hear him shouting at people in the corridors. Most language classes were chatty and buzzing; ours sat in complete silence studying the verbs and pronouns that we needed to succeed.

He tried. He tried to shrug off the reputation of being a horror, but older siblings had drilled into their little ones that he was to be avoided, and the fear cascaded like a waterfall of doom. It was rumoured that he still lived with his mum (one of our friend’s mums was on the same French faculty) and at around fifty that was a bit of a worry. Folklore also rumoured that he was tragic and had once had a fiancé who had left him for a nicer man (totally believable, the best rumours always are!) and he tried to humour us by shouting “bon bon magique!!” and then pelting us with hard boiled sweets when we had pronounced our French verbs particularly accurately.

We hated him.

He wore terrible cardigans, favouring a blue and white snowflake number from October through February (I still remember this like it was yesterday, despite it being ten years ago. That’s what fear does to a person) and on the one school trip I went on with him (French exchange, Le Touquet, 1998) he took us to the swimming pool, and we all recoiled in horror as he paraded around in a speedo. Unfortunately Tesco does not sell bleach for the mind, so the twenty students on the trip are bound for life with that memory branded on their brains.

Despite this after five years of his French tutelage, I was prepared to sit a French a level. I took my mother to his little stand at the Alevel careers fayre, after deciding I was to stop being so whimsical and take an A level that might do me some good. This was tough for me. After five years of praying he would get hit by a bus, I was actually wilfully committing myself to two more years of him. I had grown. He proceeded to tell my mum how I had no capacity to learn, was far too dreamy and thoughtful  and would be lucky to achieve a C in my French GCSE (if I was lucky); not enough to study the advanced course. Crushed, I went home and decided to use that A level slot to study photography instead.

Three months later I walked out of my school with 11 GCSE’s, A*-C. And I got an A in French.

What teacher did you hate/love at school?

*I’d just like to add to this that when I Googled ‘dream stealer’ to find a suitable picture to put with this post, the first picture that came up was Simon Cowell. Ha! That made my day!!*


25 Responses to “Those Who Can, Teach”

  1. Tinkertoot July 22, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

    Your picture of hitler reminds me of a question i’d love someone to answer – Germans are generally blonde haired – why does Hitler look more like a Jew??

    • twindaddy July 22, 2011 at 6:30 pm #

      Hitler was born in Austria, not Germany. So he wasn’t even really a German.

      • jamieonline July 25, 2011 at 5:24 pm #

        Too true. I’m sure most Germans do not want any association to ‘HeWhoMustNotBeNamed’ too.

        • tinkerbelle86 July 25, 2011 at 6:50 pm #

          hahaha i got this vision of germans all over the world shuddering at the thought of being likened to my french teacher!!

  2. Megan July 22, 2011 at 12:39 pm #

    I was blessed with some pretty amazing teachers all throughout my education. My absolute most favorite was my first grade teacher who really brought me outta my shell and took me under her wing as my parents were going through a divorce and I was having an incredibly difficult time dealing. Having gone to a small catholic school through 8th grade I was fortunate enough to have this same teacher again after she changed grade levels for grades 6, 7, & 8 for switch classes. My third grade teacher was also fabulous and holds a special place in my heart. Both of these ladies are the reason for joining the teaching profession myself… They had such a positive impact on me that I wanted to be able to do the same for others. Their influence has followed me into adulthood as we have stayed in touch all throughout the years. We exchange letters and talk often.

    During highschool I can’t say there was one teacher I loved or hated strongly… when first entering college there was one bear of a professor I had the unfortunate chance of having for accounting. He was no help and pretty much said if you don’t get it touch cookies. I even went to him personally and sought help and he told me there was no help for me; I ended up failing that class which then led me to change my major back no none other than teaching. WHile that class was an awful experience it did lead me back to the field of teaching which is what I had longed to do for most of my life.

    Finally upon entering graduate school to obtain my masters degree I had another professor that taught more than I could have ever imagined. His passion for the field and writing was something I could easily relate to. He was encouraging and challenging and pushed us to our limits.

  3. Elle July 22, 2011 at 1:39 pm #

    I had some amazing teachers that helped shape me into the person I am today. They also influenced me to be a teacher myself. Like everyone, however, I have had a dud. His name was Mr. Board and he was my Spanish teacher. (What is with these language teachers???). Mr. Board was an alcoholic who would lean over and take massive swigs from a Scope bottle each day in class. At the time I thought he must have just had really bad breath. Now that I’m older, I know that the guy was a total boozer and that explains his bizarre behavior in the classroom.

  4. Angela July 22, 2011 at 1:40 pm #

    Sad to hear your baby had nightmares from Harry Potter. I had recurring nightmares my whole childhood and beyond from the wizard of oz. I guess I was too young when I watched it. I have never let my son watch it either. Thanks for stopping by my blog! Have a great weekend.

    • tinkerbelle86 July 22, 2011 at 1:59 pm #

      ah shes not my baby she is one of my cloest friends little girl. bless her. i know, wizard of oz is pretty scary when you are small!

    • Dawn Dash July 22, 2011 at 4:08 pm #

      Oh God, the Wizard of Oz 2 (Return to Oz) was frightening! The monkeys with wheels and the queen that could swap heads… Why the hell would my mum let me watch that?

  5. pegoleg July 22, 2011 at 2:17 pm #

    I thought for sure this story was going to end with him telling your mom he only drove you so hard because you had so much raw talent, and you going on to become the world’s best French interpreter. I guess quircky, jerky behavior isn’t ALWAYS a hallmark of geniuses with a heart of gold like in the movies. Sigh.

    • tinkerbelle86 July 22, 2011 at 2:30 pm #

      Nope, sorry peg, he was basically just a knob!

  6. thedailydish July 22, 2011 at 2:46 pm #

    Loved this post! You have such a wonderful way of weaving words – it’s almost like a visual blanket has descended! I am sad I must lift it now and return to regular life. Sorry your French teacher was so awful. Mine was a lovely Brit – one of my favorite teachers by far. Good to know not all of the imprints people leave are bad!

  7. prenin July 22, 2011 at 3:16 pm #

    My favourite teacher was Mr. Roydes, an old guy who taught well and was loved by all us kids.

    When he was finally forced to retire he lost everything that mattered to him and died within a year.

    A beautiful heart and a very wise man…

    Love and hugs!


  8. Dawn Dash July 22, 2011 at 4:09 pm #

    At least you got hard bolied lollies from him. Even if they were pelted at you 🙂

  9. mrbricksworld July 22, 2011 at 4:45 pm #

    My nemesis teacher was Old Lady Tramm. She ruled her class room with an iron fist and a wooden cane. Little kids were so afraid of her tyranny that it was not uncommon for them to pee their pants when she just called out their names.

    So I can really relate to your lovable Mr. Humphrey!

    Have a great day.


  10. Beth - The Botut Blog July 22, 2011 at 7:58 pm #

    OMG, you had me snorting with laughter. I loved the entire post but especially the remark(s) about the speedo parading and bleech for the mind. Too funny.

    Believe it or not, my worst teacher was also a language teacher…my Spanish teacher. My Spanish name was Ana (he pronounced it A NA) and to this day I cringe everytime I hear it. He also wore cardigans paired with polyester flood pants.

    Thanks for the memories!

  11. Angie July 22, 2011 at 8:00 pm #

    🙂 Hi there.. thanks for visiting my blog “A Little Inspiration”

    I want to follow your blog… but i dont seem to find the option to follow by GFC.


  12. Team Oyeniyi July 22, 2011 at 9:13 pm #

    My worst was a Latin teacher. She had a beard – literally. She was grumpy. My French teacher looked like she stepped of the cover of Vogue.

  13. sophia July 23, 2011 at 2:16 am #

    Aw, I feel sorry for that French teacher! He sounds like a tragic anti-hero. I actually grew up where guys all wore speedos so I can kind of understand why he wore one.

    My favorite teachers…gosh, I had many, but I had some terrors as well. I had a teacher who would fling our notebooks onto the floor if we didn’t do a good job, and a teacher who lifted a girl by the neck, and a teacher who stripped a guy’s shirt off and kicked him under a desk.

  14. Ron July 23, 2011 at 2:44 am #

    Just wanted to stop by and say thank you for dropping by my blog earlier today. Nice to meet you!

    I love how you said this…….

    “We start off like little balls of clay and over time people indent their impressions into us until we become a canvas of patterns and shapes; finger prints left like bruises from the people who have had the most affect on us.”

    What a wonderful analogy!

    Very funny post! I love the pic and reference to Hitler – HA!!!!

    My favorite teacher was my high school Drama teacher. She convinced my parents to send me to NYC and attend an acting school. Best time of my life!

  15. Kari @ bite-sized thoughts July 23, 2011 at 10:31 am #

    I’m amazed at how often teachers aren’t given credit for the significance of their role. They deserve much more than they’re paid, in my opinion!

    I had some wonderful teachers at various points, but my year one teacher in primary school was my first favourite. She was just like a teacher of 5-year-olds should be; mothering and kind and capable of listening to the rambles of children who can’t organise their thoughts!

  16. Isabelle July 23, 2011 at 12:01 pm #

    I know what you mean about your creepy French Teacher, I had the same king of teacher but in German ! He completely terrified all the students, he made us study for more than 3 months a text about the “Nacht Und Nebel”, Nuremberg’s trial !! We even knew Auschwitz map by heart… scary isn’t it and totally unreal when we thought he was trying to teach us German and make us love this language ! The funny things is I was one of the best student of the class, not because of him but because a previous awesome German teacher, so I wasn’t listening him, playing with my friends and still he couldn’t catch me because I always answering accurately ! Aha !
    I remember he told to one of my friend she will never had much than 1/20 to the Baccalauréat ( I think that’s the GCSE equivalent ?). I’ve helped her to study and she got 14/20 ! 🙂

    The good thing about your teacher is at least he was given you some “bonbon” (candy) from time to time ! 😉

  17. jamieonline July 25, 2011 at 5:29 pm #

    Well…… being a teacher myself…… I found this post very interesting. I hope that the children that I have taught will remember me for being a funny teacher. Lucky for me that I teach children aged 3 to 4 years. They’re adorable.

    When it came to the teachers in my secondary school. Oh there was a real mix. My History teacher Mr Ruddock was scary. He used to go red in the face when he shouted. He was typically ‘old school’. The board rubber would be thrown about the room and this was in the early 90s.

    My language teachers were push overs! I took German. My brother’s French teacher was a perve! He’d stare down girls’ tops. Oh the joys of looking back at the teachers we had. Oh, I just remember my Biology teacher! Yum!!

    • tinkerbelle86 July 25, 2011 at 6:29 pm #

      my chemistry teacher was beautiful. but my favourite was my year four teacher who introduced me to goodnight mr tom and established my love of reading. he was fantastic. im sure you, like megan, will be remembered for being fab teachers 🙂

      • jamieonline July 27, 2011 at 10:33 am #

        Haha. You’re too kind. I just hope that the children remember my name. They’re so young. I can’t remember much about my first teacher.

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