“Who first made you want to be a teacher?”
A not dissimilar set of occurrences to the one I’ve discussed before about memory of books I have read springs immediately to mind. Here, rather than a narrative, is a brief litany of the saints whose practice suggested teaching (in some form or another) might be for me. Not included are those teachers whose dodgy or eccentric behaviour made me think “I could teach – but not like that”), nor yet those teachers who made a bad call and, for example, taught me I was useless at maths – so, sorry, Miss Thorn, Fr Lobo, Mr Lawson, Mr Foley, you gave me lots to think about, but your inclusion would have raised more questions for me.
Mrs Newsome: my kind and gentle Reception class teacher;
Mr Kilner: allowing drama and voice recording and C S Lewis more or less at the drop of a hat;
Mrs Rawlins, my Y6 teacher: for giving us the best end-of-day story times;
Mr Brown: you had no idea what you were getting from a very hands-on school to see me through the last, unhappy months of Primary – but you listened, and you tried and you talked to me and my parents;
Miss Parkinson: for allowing huge swathes of time to let Y7 and 8 be times where we all explored stuff together;
Mr Gunningham: for the Latin, and the patience, and the wit;
Fr Flannery: for the Latin and the Greek and the RE and the humorable impatience at our adolescence;
Mr Barlow: for not fitting the frame of teacher or Jesuit with much compliance but still getting us there with energy and engagement;
Mr (now Fr., and Professor) John Saward: for tutorials in which he displayed a real interest – and did so in meetings that extended well beyond the time allocated;
Fr Brian Findlay: every boy should have such a mentor. I think you can see some of his mannerisms in Ian Hislop and I have to admit a great deal of my fake erudition is put on in mimicking Brian’s real depth;
The great Maggie: her imaginative planning and ideas sustained me in my first job; her PGCE dissertation on ecology and storytelling sits on my office shelf and still gets read; her anecdotes are recycled in many of my lectures;
Leslie Grundy: visionary headteacher who made me want to do nursery and taught me how to do it;
Julie Fisher: who gave me the framework to try to put intelligent pedagogy into action;
and Brookes colleagues who taught or continue to teach me how to do it, day after day. But I’ll stop with just my first leader and mentor at Brookes, Helena Mitchell, so this doesn’t become an Oscars list.
Thank you to all of them, living and dead.