Professor Kay Davies was on Desert Island Discs last week and she was asked about teachers who inspired her. She described a chemistry teacher who loved golf and would help her students set up their experiments and then pop off for a couple of hours to play a round. This gave the students plenty of time to talk and work things out for themselves. It's hard to imagine a teacher getting away with that kind of thing today.
I'm always interested to hear stories like this. The teachers who change people's lives very often seem to be the eccentrics. I had a French teacher for two years who taught me more French than I learnt in the rest of my school career and let us use the French cupboard to listen to albums by Love and Captain Beefheart. I also had a teacher at primary school, Sister Marion, who let me and my friend spend three days designing and painting a very large imaginary bird. I can still picture the bird, fifty years later!
And thinking about this I'm reminded of Sybil Marshall whose book An Experiment in Education gives a description of the wonderful possibilities of primary education. One of the reasons I love this so much is that my mother taught for a year or so in a small primary school in the fens which must have been quite similar to Sybil Marshall's. The headteacher, who had been there for as long as anyone could remember, had a canning machine in the school, and when it was time for the soft fruit harvest everything stopped until the canning operation was over!
Writing resolutions by Tracy Darnton
10 hours ago