Teacher’s PetPosted: January 8, 2014
There were in fact two teachers that I remember with great fondness.
One was from primary school. Our class was practically unteachable, feral. We had ran off two student teachers and no matter what corporal punishment was given (this was the early 70s in Scotland) it didn’t make a difference, in fact there was a competition on who could get the most. No teacher in the school wanted to teach our class until Miss Lawson stepped up.
She was quite young I know now but she was kind, understanding and refused to use corporal punishment. She found out the strengths and interests of each of the pupils and set up individual learning plans for us. She also told us she was going to stay with us for the last three years of primary and that she wanted us to succeed as she knew that we were all capable of success. This confidence and kindness seemed to resonate with all of us, and peer pressure from the ones she got on side quickly persuaded the rest to walk the line until they got it too.
The whole class were so behind educationally it was amazing what she got out of us, we were all functioning at higher secondary level by the time we went to secondary. This gave us all a really good start at secondary, ahead of our peers and quite confident in our abilities to read and comprehend across the whole curriculum.
Pity was once we got to secondary that seemed to go out the window as we were from quite a deprived area and the school was full of lack-lustre teachers, either burnt out, really new or cruising to pension. We had it emphasised on a regular basis that we were fit for the rubbish heap, manual labour or the army, that was it.
I went through this for two years, getting quite aggressive and confrontational with other pupils and staff, I was bored, my abilities weren’t being pushed and I wasn’t being engaged with in a positive manner that I had learned to appreciate at primary.
Then when subjects had to be chosen there was a new subject with a new teacher, Dave McKenzie, the subject was Modern Studies and was looking at modern history and contemporary subjects. This was really interesting in itself but Dave took the time to nurture the students critical faculties and ability to self-motivate. He also taught us our self-worth. He got me through this course (I got an A) and gave me the confidence to continue with education and look outside my background for the future.
If it wasn’t for the combination of these two wonderful human beings I would probably have been in prison or in the military, neither of which I believe were constructive option 😉
I went onto work with children as a Nursery Officer, one of the first male Nursery Officers in Scotland, which had its difficulties, but the reliance and confidence I was given saw me through the difficulties in this, I now work in residential special education with boys on the autistic spectrum and have done so for the last 26 years.
I am really grateful to both of these teachers and did return to thank both of them at one point but they had both moved on. If they ever see this, I would love them to know that they made the difference to at least one person who is giving back the care and attention they gave to me to other children on a daily basis.