The girls are now settled back into their new classes and the school routine. I am delighted that they both like their new teachers and so far everything is going well. DD1 in particular seems to be thriving and really enjoys her new teacher’s approach to learning and his sense of humour.
Listening to the girls talking about school got me thinking about my own school days. There were good teachers and bad teachers, nice teachers and not so nice teachers. All those teachers affected how I felt about school when I was in their class. For me, one teacher in particular stands out. She was a little bit ahead of her time, rewarding us for good behaviour when it was more common for teachers to punish bad behaviour.
If we behaved well during the week, she rewarded the class each Friday by reading a chapter in a book that she had chosen. The first book she read for us was “The Flight of The Doves” by Walter Macken. It tells the story of two children Finn and Dervil Dove and the adventures they had while escaping from their cruel stepfather in England to live with their granny in Ireland. Every child that passed through that teacher’s class remembers that book. The promise of a new chapter next week kept our class pretty well behaved.
I recently read Flight of the Doves to my own children, a chapter a night at bedtime. Though the story is based in the Ireland of the 1960s/1970s and is a bit dated in places, the girls loved it and got completely caught up in the storyline.
Now I know teaching is about making sure pupils can read, write, add and subtract, while also dealing with personalities and parents. But it is also about inspiring children, developing their imaginations. It is about leaving children with good memories of learning in your class. That teacher read the Flight of the Doves because she loved the story despite reading it to each new class, every year, for God knows how many years. I have never forgotten that book and I in turn have read it to my children. A legacy, memory of something enjoyable, passed from teacher to pupil and on again. That is what teaching is about.
I’ve been privy to a few conversations recently where parents are trying to deal with children who have taken a dislike to their teachers. I don’t envy that situation. One parent recently commented on twitter that her son had only just started school and after one week he already doesn’t like his teacher (he said the teacher was cross with him) and now he doesn’t want to go at all. What a horrible start to his school life. Every child starts school with dreams of fun, learning and being one of the big kids. A quote from WB Yeats comes to mind “Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.”.
Both my girls had lovely teachers when they were starting school and it made life much easier. Hopefully one day that little boy will learn to love school when he meets an inspiring teacher. One who will pass on to him their love of a subject, or a book, and will inspire him with happy memories of learning in school.