The Blackboard Jungle

days spent beating back the seeds of doubt

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Extracts from a 1998 school leaver's book I found:

Dear Miss L
We have had quite a good teacher-student relationship for the past two years, but I'm very happy that all that has to stop.
Love Darren

Darren was gutted that his ultimate role model, Shakespeare's Mercutio, had been played as a drag queen in the Baz Lurhmann version of Romeo and Juliet. He had been near to tears watching his hero don a short white skirt and shake his thang.
I recall having to take him outside and try to explain that it was an artistic decision that reflected the director's desire to place Mercutio at the extremes of society, on the edge of things, the runaway royal. Darren sniffed heavily,sighed, and went back into the classroom, with a visibly heavy heart. Darren and Mercutio both got an A at GCSE.

Miss L
Thank you for teaching me for the last four years, for all the help you have given me, the oppourtunities [sic] you have presented to me and for trying to make Shakespeare interesting. (although Leonardo Di Caprio was more successful than you!!)

Tracey's dad worked as a photographer at the Daily Mirror, and fed us a constant stream of under the counter supplies for the unofficial, unregulated, award winning, school newspaper I tortured the governors with for four long years. Tracey didn't escape me or my obsession with Hollywood rewrites of classic texts, and suffered the full six years of the Lectrice educational method, in class and in the after hours school newspaper club, until she went to university.
To do journalism.

Miss L
I remmeber the first lesson I had with you and it was funny you've put up with me while Ive been upset and dissobedient and Sometimes very annoying, i've enjoyed being taught by you and wont forget the great english lesson which I So look Forward to each week. ok then i spose this is good bye THANX
PS I wont write See Ya around cause i aint comin back to the 6th form OK bye!!!

Sarah made it through school despite her mum dying when she was fourteen, leaving her to cope with seven younger siblings, all of whom I also taught.
Sometimes, you see life throw something like that at an individual, and without even frontal lobe thought, you automatically forgive that child 90% more of their future wrongs. Sarah was one such case. She got her pass grade C at GCSE.

To Miss L
The most enthusiastic teacher I know.
from Cecilia.

Cecilia repays that enthusiasm in droves every day I see her walking her toddler home from daycare after she's finished the day's studies and she rushes up to excitedly tell me how well she's doing in her law course. Cecilia got, and earned every single part of, her grade B at GCSE.

There are more. Many more.

What strikes me, re-reading, is that I can tell you a little story about every one of them.