Teachers make an incredible impact on every child’s life, sometimes rivalling that of our own families. We only need to think back through those decades – to see how crystal-clear certain memories and moments remain after all this time – to realise just how deep an imprint our education left on us.
Granted, many of us will still turn red with frustration thinking of a bad or vindictive teacher half a century ago. On the other hand, it’s lovely to feel warmth and appreciation reflecting on the truly good ones; those who truly saw education as their vocation and did their best to put their passion and personality into their (often thankless) work.
In many cases, it’s all too easy to trace our current interests to the teacher who introduced them to us. Looking at my older brother’s life, it’s clear his decades-spanning fascination with ancient history can be traced back to a single spirited teacher. Had somebody else taught the class, his life would almost certainly have taken a very different path.
Personally, I carry the fondest memories of Mr.\ Paulson, my 9th grade English teacher. He didn’t just teach English as a subject of study; he worked his enthusiasm for it into his very delivery. He had a wonderful, razor-sharp wit, frequently aimed at those who misbehaved, but far from mean-spirited.
The sly references and puns he worked into his otherwise-routine classroom instructions seemed aimed only at the few who could keep up. Sometimes – rather self-centredly – I couldn’t help but feel they were for my benefit alone. He taught me the value of paying attention.
At the time, he seemed to accept my excuses of “I left it at home”. In hindsight, I can see it clearly: he was humouring me. Perhaps, aware of the tough family situation I was experiencing at the time, he allowed a little leeway for the greater good.
Such reflections can also be tinged with regret; we didn’t always give the best teachers the same respect they afforded us. But it’s never too late to reflect and be grateful for the role they played.
Today we’d like to ask you: who was your favourite teacher? How did they help shape your life? And did you ever get the chance to thank them?