What made your favourite teacher memorable?

25 Oct 2008

 I wrote my weekly BBC column about the Teaching Awards and the memories it prompted of one of my favourite teachers at secondary school (see 'articles' page for more).

 I also have good memories of a favourite primary teacher. I always remember Brian Tebbit because he let us watch the Test Match during lunch breaks. Otherwise I would not have seen the likes of Cowdrey and Edrich.

 He also ran the football team and, in lessons, encouraged us to write about current affairs. How many primary school tecahers ask their class to wriute about the Budget? Perghaps that was why I went on to become a political correspondent?

 Another favourite was Chris Johnson, who taught me history at A-level. Actually he didn't really teach us but gave us university level reading lists, expected us to get on with that in our own time, and spent lessons telling jokes or having wide-ranging discussions. 

There were some eccentric ones too. The art teacher who never got past 'lesson one: perspective; and spent most of the lessons marching up and down, swinging a sabre (nominally there for still life purposes). He was terribly teased. When he wasn't swinging the sabre (and nore often than not cutting his hands) he went up and down, up and down, with a squeegee mop. Naturally my fellow pupils thought they should give him something purposeful to do, so would paint the soles of their shoes and create multi-coloured footprints all over the art rooom. One wag even removed his shoes, put them on the end of poles, and took the footprint trail up the wall and even along the ceiling. This perplexed the poor art teacher no end.

There was also the history teachers whose memory was so bad that he could never remember anyone's names. We didn'tr help because every time he turned to write on the blackboard, we all changed seats.

I'm sorry to admit there are many more stories like this from my secondary school.

So, how about some of your stories? I'll be happy to put them on the website - so long as they are not libelous!




User Comments

Joe Nutt - 27 Oct 2008

Miss Egglestone

Teaching is undoubtedly a complex art and there is no one way to do it well. I was fortunate enough to have had plenty of skillful, memorable teachers but the one who left the most lasting impression did so inadvertently. The primary school I attended was directly opposite the town's museum and on my way back to school after lunch at home, I would often spend half an hour in the museum. It was silent, crammed with Victorian exhibits of stuffed birds and animals, and virtually empty of people and consequently utterly fascinating. So fascinating, one lunchtime I became so engrossed I arrived at school about half an hour late for a musical event in which I was playing a key part. I was eight. I told my teacher (a delightfully kind, spindly, energetic older lady called Miss Egglestone) a spontaneous lie, that my bus was late. Miss Egglestone promptly called the teacher next door into the classroom and complained bitterly about the buses and discussed whether or not they should ring the company to complain and in those few minutes taught me more about truth and deceit than half a lifetime studying and teaching literature.

John Morrison - 28 Nov 2008

A tale of 2 teachers

A tale of 2 teachers: one taught A level Economics, the other in the next door classroom taught A level Gov't & Politics. Now I make the following comments having taken several degrees in education and taught, but I got these differences in a crude sense even at the age of 17. The Economics teacher was a thoroughly professional teacher, doing everything, as far as I could see the right way. The Gov't teacher broke pretty much every rule in the book of teaching including generally not being prepared. But the Gov't teacher was technically so bad, that he was somehow a genius. The genius was he really was interested in the subject and pretty much always made one or more contentious academic points in every lesson which quickly caused a major academic argument. Somehow a core group in the class realized we needed to be on our game and we read widely. Class debates were unbelievably stimulating, arguing what was reality in the political world and what was not. I never saw the same throughout my 3 degree programs. I quit a BSc in Gov't at the LSE, because class discussion was so miserable and backward in comparison. Towards the end of our A levels we heard that the Gov't teacher was on the verge of getting fired. He was spared by the large number of A grades in A level Gov't & Politics from his class in 1980. I've seen it a couple times since in teaching, teachers who break pretty much all the rules of teaching and yet are great teachers. I'm still fascinated by Gov't and Politics more than 25 years later, but I lost interest in Economics quickly after A level.

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