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Monday, 1 December 2008


While reading this BBC article I was reminded of my own school days which ended some 32 years ago. In particular this quote galvanised my  attention.

"Ask anyone what were the biggest influences of school on their lives
and they will not tell you about how many school meals they ate, how
many times they ran round the school field or how many sex education
lessons they sat through.

No, they will tell you about an inspirational teacher or a notable school trip, drama, or sports event.

Schools would say that if we try to measure everything - and
hold teachers to account through so much data collection - we risk
losing the spontaneity and individuality that should be part of

While I hated school with a passion, they were not happy days for me in any way whatsoever, that can only be understood by those who went through the education system around the same time there were something that happened that forced the decisions that ultimately helped shape my life. As the quote above alludes to there were also the odd teacher, one from Primary school, one from Secondary (junior) school and two from High (senior) school and one event that stood out. The schools I frequented, in order, were, Thoresby Primary (1964-1969), Wyke Hall (1969-1973) and Kelvin Hall (1973-1976).

First the schools themselves. Thoresby was back then actually two schools. The primary side and a Junior girls only school. It was a place that when first starting out on ones education where they made their charges comfortable. Later, as one progressed through the years, they stepped things up a few gears so that one was left with little doubt that education can be fun and hard work not always at the same time. It was a lovely place to enter the education trail. Wyke Hall was, like Kelvin Hall its next door neighbour (they shared the same field where football, rugby, cricket and athletics were done) a relatively new school back then having been built around 1960 and was by those days standards a very modern school with some very modern ideas driven by some  modern thinking teachers. Kelvin was along the same lines. Both were often used as education testbeds were new ideas for schools where tried out. Kelvin Hall was the first school in the U.K. (we were told at the time) to introduce choices at meal time. Wyke and Kelvin Hall were good schools to be at back then.

Second, the teachers. At Thoresby school the teacher that made the most impression on my then young mind was a man from Poland called Mr Schonet (I have no idea if that is the correct spelling of his surname). He was a teacher who immediately upon entering a classroom that grabbed ones attention. He was firm but fair. I cannot say exactly why he affected me but suffice it to say i will never forget the man. There were other teachers and ancillery staff that made an impression on a young mind such as the school nurse and, in those days, the first teacher ever encountered. Dear Mrs Hill.

At Wyke Hall there was one teacher, the sports teacher, that stood out and not for good reasons either. For reasons known only to him Mr Rutter hated me and me him. He was often grossly unfair in what he metered out by way of things to do and also punishment for failing to do whatever it was to his high standards. He, above every other teacher I had had during my schooldays showed me how to get the best out of ones charges by being a monster towards them. For it was this horrible teacher that made me better at all the sports I did at school and some after I left school.

At Kelvin Hall, a school were they used to tell us we are not pupils but students, the one teacher that helped shape my views on the world was a Humanities teacher called Mr Brown, Charlie Brown. He always insisted we called him Charlie and not Mr Brown or Sir. He was, probably more so in those days, a very progressive teacher who instilled into his charges that we must question everything and everyone if we are ever  going to understand what they are about. Something i do to this day some 34 years  after our last lesson. The other teacher that had such a profound affect on me from my days at Kelvin hall was a Mr Wilkinson. He was the polar opposite of Charlie in that he, being of Army stock, was very regimented and  spent almost all his talking time shouting or barking out instructions. These two helped show me that oppostied can have the same impact on their charges at two peas from the same pod.

I cannot say exactly why the teachers named had such a profound impact on me but what I can say is they did and they did so in different ways.

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