Wednesday, November 16, 2011

School and other studying occasions

Nothing of any interest happened today until the evening, when I went to choir and we attempted to learn Kyrie II from Haydn's "Mass for St Cecilia". This is fiendishly hard but potentially lovely. It wasn't lovely as we sang it tonight but our rendering of it did improve slightly.

So instead of recounting how I made cups of tea and went to the supermarket, I thought I'd blog about Miss H, my primary 5 class teacher. We were 9 years old. There were three new girls in the class and I was assigned to look after one of them - W. Miss H was just giving an introductory spiel when W whispered a question to me. I think it was, "When's lunch?" Whatever it was, I whispered a reply and Miss H heard. She got me to stand up, asked me my name and then said, "I can see you're going to be a troublemaker."

And for the rest of the year, I was convinced that she thought I was indeed a troublemaker. Which I wasn't. I'm not saying that I was a saint, but my sins were discreet and never noticed.

I realised long ago that, in fact, Miss H probably never gave her assessment of me another thought after that moment. I don't suppose that she did really think I was a troublemaker even as she said it. And yet, 52 years later, I can remember the room, and where I was sitting, and where W sat at the desk to my left, and the exact tone of Miss H's rather posh English voice.

Now, I'm not claiming that my childhood was completely warped by this experience. I wasn't even terribly traumatised that year, though I was wary of Miss H because of what she'd said (and, I assumed, what she thought of me). But it was a lesson to me that a teacher can do a lot of damage by an unconsidered remark. She was actually rather good fun (if a bit sarcastic) most of the time.

I imagine that most people have such experiences; and I just hope that I don't feature in a similar role in any of my pupils' or students' memories.

It was a year ago exactly that our darling Daughter 2 went to live in London. This has been very much not the best year of my life - though lovely Grandson does bring a warm glow.


  1. Ah yes, the unconsidered remark. Some of our boys' teachers used to just drive me crazy with the things they would do. I remember one particular classmate of TheFirstChild's -- from early on, he was labeled the troublemaker. He was actually a fun and creative kid, but the teachers couldn't ever see that -- they wanted perfectly behaved children. If only more teachers thought like you!

  2. I can still remember some of the humiliations visited on me at school, and it was a thousand years ago. Some things leave their mark, don't they?

  3. I was a very active child and nowadays would probably be labeled hyperactive. Not all of my teachers appreciated me. When I became a teacher I had a special place in my heart for the hyperactive kids, frequently the most interesting.

  4. It's fascinating, the carelessly tossed remarks that stick with us our entire lives. Oh well, as the saying goes... What doesn't kill us makes us stronger. One can hope.

  5. I suppose teachers are like the rest of the human race, and it takes all kinds... But most are good at their jobs - except for the maths and science teachers we had. But I still recall one teacher's put-down of my class - "'you are silly, soppy, sentimental sorts."

  6. Heh - I had a teacher who had me mixed up with someone else, so I got in trouble for everything she did wrong... and of course it was no use trying to explain the mix-up, because that would just be me trying to deny my wrongdoings. Sixth grade, and I'm still bitter!