*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!!*