I was recently talking to a fifteen year old boy about his experience at school which was interesting if only for the fact that it brought to mind my own school days and the teachers who in one way or another influenced me.
I should say that as the son – one of five plus a fantastic sister – of a military family I attended a number of schools and not all of them could be described as good never mind satisfactory and in reality one at least was I soon discovered very poor.
It was when we returned from Cyprus in 1961 having spent two years at the Army Children’s School in Berengaria Limassol where I came – pause for applaud – top of my class of thirty eight that I found out it amounted to very little at all.
On our return I was enrolled into Manor School in Wokingham where I was just in time to take the end of term summer exams.
To cut a long story short my Maths results which will always be burned into my memory were Algebra 15%, Geometry 1% and Mathematics 36% –
in summary an abject failure.
However in the same way we all remember those teachers who made our lives a misery we also remember those who inspired us to learn.
In my case there was four
Mr Worthington who had a passion for Geography, Mr Hunt who apart from being the Deputy Headteacher was also a brilliant Maths teacher, Miss Fisher who loved the English language and literature above all else and Miss House who taught Science.
Miss House I might add was also the scariest teacher I’ve ever had being a marvel at wielding a Bunsen burner hose to remind you with some force and dexterity – that wouldn’t be allowed today – that paying attention was not an option.
I liked and admired them not only for their knowledge but because they were inspirational in their own way and were only to happy to pass it on to us.
Not only did they inspire me but perhaps more importantly they understood me and made me feel and believe that I could learn and how much fun learning could be.
I have no idea why they were so successful in inspiring me to learn but I will always be grateful to them because without them I certainly would not have achieved the things I have in life.
And that is the crux of the issue around the lack of investment in teaching and teachers that is currently the UK Government policy which is driving experienced teachers out of the profession at the same time as failing to recruit new teachers into it.
The policy is not only damaging the teaching profession but is actually seriously damaging the future of the UK both educational and economically as more and more inspirational and potentially inspirational teachers reject working in the system.
I loved lecturing and teaching throughout my working careers as a result of being inspired by others and it will be another twenty years before the damage being caused by our Governments policies will be fully understood –
but it doesn’t look good for the future generations.