Carrying on with the school theme from yesterday, I just so happened to be watching the film ‘The Dead Poets Society’ last night, and this took me back to my own schooldays and two very different teachers that I had back in 1974 when I was 16/17.

For some unaccountable reason I decided to take A Level Chemistry in the Sixth Form.  My best friend was taking it, and I wanted to be a doctor – perhaps those were the reasons why, but it was one of the worst decisions I ever made.  I had passed the ‘O’ level though, so was perhaps suffused with confidence.

I don’t know if you’ve ever read any of my other blogs, but if you have you would have gathered that unfortunately I am rather numerically illiterate.  A Level Chemistry requires the student to be somewhat better at Maths and equations and calculations than I was/am.  It always seemed whichever method I used to work out a problem usually turned out to be the exact opposite of what I should have been doing, but I could never see why.  The teacher would belittle me in front of the other students, and seemed to enjoy picking out my many faults.   In fact not even halfway into the course, demoralised and dreading the next lesson, I gave it up, together with my pipe dream of becoming a doctor.

Compare the chemistry teacher with my music teacher.  She saw in me a love of music, whether classical or modern.  She welcomed me into the choir, the orchestra, and the madrigal group.  She took a few of us to the Kenwood concerts one year in her little Mini Cooper.  She invited us to her home for tea and cakes and a singing afternoon together.  She wanted me to take A Level Music, but I couldn’t see at the time how it would have helped me in a career, so I didn’t.  I kept up with the choir and orchestra though, and through her I learned to love Gilbert & Sullivan’s works, especially ‘The Gondoliers’ and ‘The Mikado’, and also Carl Orff’s ‘Carmina Burana’.

I wish I’d taken Music now at A Level, but hey ho…

A teacher can have a profound effect on a young mind.  Some of them know this, but others should not take their responsibilities lightly.