It's been a little while since I've done a post as part of the 'When you were small' series, and it's not because I don't enjoy doing them, because I absolutely do, and more importantly, I love hearing back everyone's comments.
Anyone who has been following this series knows we have looked at first love, favourite toy, most important childhood memory, chores, etc, the list as I've said before is pretty endless. There are lots of things and people which influence our childhood, but sometimes we forget one element which makes up a great part of our development, and that is going to school, and the teachers we meet there.
In Ireland we have primary school from about the age of 4/5 up to around 12. After that we have secondary, which brings us up to university entry level. When I think about primary school, for the most part my memories are all good ones. I mean the classrooms were overcrowded, in my case accommodating two class groups together, for example 5th & 6th class. I don't remember any teacher in particular from this time, although no doubt I should, as overall, I had a liking for school and that just doesn't happen by accident.
My hubby on the other hand, has a very firm memory of a primary school teacher, one whom he had for a number of years, Mr Moran. I know this seems like a daft thing to say, as I am not talking about myself, but I know Mr Moran had a huge positive influence on my partner and in particular his love of books. From what I have gathered over the years, one of Mr Moran qualities, was his realisation that all children have different needs, which was why he had plenty of time for sport, for classes talking about other cultures, for setting individual goals, and for story time. Mr Moran it would seem from my secondhand knowledge, was a pretty brilliant story teller. My hubby is dyslexic, and severely so. A condition which wasn't diagnosed for him until well into adult life. Nonetheless, when Mr Moran read out a story in class, he opened up a world of fantasy for all the children, those who could read easily, and those perhaps who could not. This love was planted in my partner head, despite obvious reading difficulties, which meant that in later life, when there was a greater understanding of his condition, for the most part despite his early difficulties, he had an immense love for books and the stories within them.
I think I could write forever about teachers, and how they can influence you, because I do have two very distinct memories myself, both of which have stayed in my brain for a very long time, when believe me, an awful lot of other stuff has not.
The first was a temporary teacher we had in 1st year in secondary. I don't remember her name, but I do remember that she was very young, and very petite, neither of which are of any relevance in themselves. The part that is relevant however is how during her time teaching us history, we created a class project on Egypt. I remember it so vividly, studying and copying the hieroglyphics onto large poster pages, how wonderful the project looked when it was put up as an exhibit in the classroom, and others students and teachers came to visit it. I think right there, if the seeds had not been planted before, I realised how you could take something from your head and put it out there in a real and different way, and how working with others, sometimes you could create so much more. The second memory I have is also of an History Teacher, but he was an English Teacher too. After my 3rd year in secondly, due to family circumstances at the grand old age of 15, I needed to go out and get a real job. The following year I enrolled in night classes to do my Leaving Certificate, our final exam before college entry. Because the classes were at night, I met a great group of fellow classmates, many of them older than I, but I also met this teacher who has had a huge influence on my life.
Now I need to apologise here, because even though I know how important he was to me, I cannot remember his name. This is not a slight on him, I am hopeless with names in general. Anyhow (I knew I would have to get my fav crutch word in eventually), he was a very special man. He opened up the world of English to me in a way which no one else had done. I began to get excited about poetry, to understand Shakespeare, the tragedy of life, the beauty in a single word, I found meaning beyond the straight forward story within the front and back cover of a book, I learned about the layers in the creation of the written word, I learned to go beyond loving to read, I learned to love the language. At the end of this post is an extract from notes in my English journal, ones he dictated to us on the very first evening of our studies, in fact they are the only words he ever dictated to us, but I understand why he wanted to impress them from the beginning. I still have my journal from that time, I will keep it always.
Phew! That was a long one. I suppose what I'm saying is, teachers hold a special part of our formation, we often take them for granted, especially the good ones, and perhaps their influence is often not appreciated, but one thing I am certain of, their influence will never be forgotten.
If any of you have your own teacher memories, you can share them below by writing a comment. I don't mind how long the comments are, the length and content are entirely up to you.
For other post in this series - check out http://tinyurl.com/626pkrb
Extract from my Leaving Cert English Notes:
I am doing Leaving Cert English literature, in the course of the year, I shall be exposing myself to a drama, an imaginative novel, and some poems. I shall be asked to respond to the vision of the writer. No two people can have the same response. For instance, there is only one response to the question "What does two and two total?", but literature is an inexact science, and so there is not one answer, but as many as there are readers.
I am unique, I am as unique as my fingerprints, so that I see, feel things in an unique way. When it comes to the character in a play, or the character in a novel, or a poet's feelings, I can never fully identify. But I can observe with care the other person, and then transfer myself to his or her situation, and try to listen to my feelings there.