Thursday, 12 April 2012

Goodbye, Mr Chips


Browsing my Facebook page, I was surprised to pick up a reference to a chap I used to teach with in a Boys' High School 35 odd years ago.  Curious, I had a look at his page and was delighted to see that he had 350 friends on it, most of whom were ex-pupils.  I gathered that he had gone on to be a headmaster in a private school after cutting his teeth at the rough-ish government school where I met him and that vast numbers of his ex-pupils remembered him with both affection and gratitude.  Weird to read about the subsequent careers and marriages of these 'youngsters' and awesome to think that his wonderful teaching had influenced so many so well.   I used to think when I was teaching, that it was sad that one so rarely heard of ex-pupils again and often mused about whether I had wasted my time and energy doing my best to engage their interest.  (The days before Facebook and Internet!) Once I did hear the name of one girl on the radio: she was carving out her dream career as an actress. Luckily, she had been in my House at school and so we had often won the Inter-House play competition. Another time, I heard via a grape vine that a young lad had become an Aircraft Mechanic, so impressed had he been by the big diagram of a jet engine I had once brought to school (courtesy of my aircraft mechanic husband) for a Career Guidance class. That was nice. I contacted my ex-colleague and was delighted to receive a reply. He was your old-fashioned dedicated teacher, devoted to the boys: he never married.  He mentioned that he had just retired and had only opened his Facebook page three weeks ago.

7 comments:

  1. Ah, as teachers we send out all these seeds of wisdom out to the world. Very seldom we see the plants fully grown, the potential all realized. A lot like parenting!

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  2. Therefore Thank you, Facebook!

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  3. Oooopps! My comment ended up as a reply to Rosaria, when I intended it to be a comment to the post. As such it was located in the wrong place, I deleted and pasted it here.

    My brother in law is a retired fifth grade science teacher that imparted in his students a love for nature and a deep respect for the environment. Every now and again a former student would contact him with the news that they were working in some capacity as a naturalist or in environmental science. I complimented him saying something to effect that wow, that must feel great to know that you have been the source of inspiration for so many young people.

    He replied "Not really, I have sentenced some very bright kids to a life of poor pay and low job security." Apparently he received some complaints from parents who felt their child's potential had been wasted in a college education for environmental science, and held him responsible. As such he tried to convince his students to have a love for nature and a respect for the environment, but don't make a career out of it.

    I have often thought that I have missed my mark in life, I should have been a teacher. I think I could have thrived at teaching history at some small agricultural college in the middle of nowhere--someplace that would have no academic expectations of research or scholarship. Year after year I would be faced with 98 students bored out of their minds with stupid history, but if there were two that I could in some way inspire.... To see the sparkle of a growing idea in the eye of a bright young person would be a paradise realized. I envy those of you that have had that opportunity.

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    1. Oh how awful for your brother! The ironies of life are legion.

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  4. That was a wonderful love and his life story by chips.

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    1. Thank you - our dedicated teachers must be cherished.

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