Shaping Young Minds

As my last post mentioned, I have my 20 year school reunion on this weekend that I have decided that I am not going to.  But I have been thinking about my school days, and the friends I had back then, and the things that happened during those 13 odd years of schooling.

I read this post over on Three Ring Circus about a teacher behaving like an arse to a young girl, and I got to thinking more about mine.  I remember so many of them so well.
The one I feel was the most influential in my life was Miss Stubbs.  She was the teacher-librarian in my Primary school until I was about 10 or 11.  She was wonderful, and gave me so much encouragement to read.  She would save me books that had just come into the library, because she knew I’d read pretty much everything.  I ran into her a few years ago at a Michael Palin event and she rememebered me.  In fact remembered me as “a cute little thing in her pjamas with her nose in a book.”
I had a really crappy teacher in Year 4 named Mrs Bourke, who terrified all of the kids, and tried to convert us all into Catholicism.  I remember her telling the class in front of a girl who had just had her baby brother drown in a swimming pool that “God takes children away because of the sin in the world.”  She was completely nuts.
Then there was Mr Browne.  He was awesome.  Young and funny and cool.  I had him for Year 6 and he had a paddle called “The Dog” that he never really hit anyone with, but we were all scared of it.  I got it on the hand once for talking.  A high five hurts more.  I only ever got in trouble for talking.
In High School there weren’t as many cool ones, but there were some nutbars.  Miss Shand, who wore low cut tops that her huge boobs fell out of and made all the Year 8 boys ears go red.  Mr Lloyd (who we called Lloydie the Loonie) who was REALLY old and I am quite sure he was going senile.  A guy who we called Johnny Rambo (but I’ve forgotten his name!) who would sleep with the Year 12 girls.  A strange little French teacher that had a nervous breakdown in class.  Mr Angell who stank of BO and thought it was funny to fart on students during exams.
But there were also wonderful teachers.  Miss Burton, an art teacher who was a “swampie” (predecessor of goths) like some of us, and encouraged us all to find something creative that we could master.  Mr Eyles, a patient older man who I had for Maths, which I have always struggled with.  I remember him sitting with me to work through things that the rest of the class got, but I struggled with.  I also remember his sadness when he talked about his wife being ill.  Mr Large, a funny British guy that I had for English a few years, who really got me loving the classics.  Miss Beattie, who was my typing teacher for several years, and sent me postcards from her holiday travels around the world.
But my favourite of all of them was Mr Bendell.  My science teacher for all but 1 year of High School, he was brilliant.  Intelligent, witty, respectful, passionate, dignified, cheeky… he really was wonderful.  He called the girls “Marm” and the boys “Squire”.  He would tell obscure science-fiction/geek jokes that only me and one boy ever got.  I remember him teaching us never to be afraid of saying “I don’t know.” when asked a question.  I also remember playing practical jokes on him and him retaliating in spectacular science teacher fashion.  One in particular I remember was him setting off rotten egg gas and then closing us all up in the classroom after we’d done something particularly cheeky to him.  He taught me that science was fun and fascinating, and to always be curious about “why and how”.
I also remember him asking me to “Try” when we were doing dissection, because I had a particularly weak stomach.  I would try SOOOOO hard for him, to be able to stay and watch, but more often than not he would turn to me and quietly say “You are green Marm, pop outside in the fresh air for a bit.”  And I also remember him teaching us “The Raspberry Song” at Year 8 camp (it was about farts, he played guitar and taught us songs about farts, what a legend.)
I often wonder where he is these days.  I don’t really know how old he would be, I would have guessed he was in his 30’s when I was in school, so he’d at least be in his 50’s now.  I am quite sure he inspired many, many young people over the years, and it would be nice to think that he is either still doing just that, or perhaps retired to play his guitar and read science fiction at his leisure.
Did you have any really amazing teachers when you were a kid that changed your life?  Did you have any really awful ones?  Leave me a comment and tell me about them!
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April 9, 2009. high school, inspiration, memories, primary school, Rosewood, teachers.

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