Saturday, August 02, 2008

Memories of a special time and place

While I was visiting blogs today a post on Dru’s blog reminded me of a roof that I had been lucky enough to visit.

At the end of the last century (!) I was teaching English in several primary schools locally. One of the schools in the north of the department was in a old convent which had been seized during the revolution. I imagined the beautiful old staircase being quietly used by the nuns – not by noisy children as it is today. I was teaching the children who would be leaving for the ‘big school’ the following September. I really thought that their teacher was called Boris Vian - that was the name on the classroom door. When I went into the headmaster’s classroom I realised that their headmaster couldn’t possibly be Victor Hugo. I was pleased I hadn’t addressed the teacher as Monsieur Vian. Anyway, the teacher, whoever he was, was someone really special. The class had adopted one of the contestants of the Vendee Globe boat race and he was using the race as a way of teaching all of the subjects throughout the year. The children were learning to plot a course, study weather, geography, natural history and so on in the context of the race - oh yes, and compose a letter in English! In the March of the year they would be staying for a week in Vendee and hopefully greeting their adopted contestant as he sailed home.

The teacher was also an artist so he’d arranged for the children to pass some time at a workshop based on the work of a late local artist – I forget his name. Towards the end of my time there the teacher took me up into the roof which was beautiful, completely wooden and divided into three areas; computers, library and art. One of the dividers to the areas was a huge sail painted by the children at the art workshop. With the sunlight coming through the windows it equalled stained glass!

Those children have probably left the school system by now. I hope they remember and appreciate their teacher


Dru Marland said...

You always remember a good teacher. well, I do anyway. I hope they still remember you too.

I like lofts. I lived in the attic of a house in Wales... it was a big attic with windows... and a big loft space in a Devon farmhouse that a barn owl used when I wasn't there.

I was introduced to Boris Vian by a French colleague. Well, to Boris Vian's works, anyway. I wonder if he'd have made a very good, or a very bad teacher?

Anji said...

Yes I've got two or three teachers who were very special.

We used to play in the loft of a big house when i was a child, there were three large rooms that the servants had lived in in the past, very cold in winter and lovely wooden floors.

Dom is going to lend me some Boris Vian's books when I get the time to read them. I read one of Albert Camus' books because I taught at a college mamed after him - really enjoyed it . When I 'retire' I will have a lot of reading to do.

alan said...

I remember a teacher once telling me that you can learn anything if you decide there is a place for it in your life; this wonderful man made it so for these children- a fantastic gift they will always remember!

I really need to come by here more often; you write so wonderfully!


Dawtch said...

I was lucky enough in my school career, and real world, too for that matter, to have encountered some spectacular teachers. They saw in me a desire, almost a NEED, to learn, and nurtured it, so that to this day, I take every opportunity to learn more. To the point my hunny has told me " Just because you don't know, that doesn't mean you need to!" But in truth, I do, it's how I am. If it catches my fancy, even in passing, I want to know EVERYTHING about it, whatever IT may be :)
I hope my boy is lucky enough to have teachers like I did. It takes a special kind of person not just to teach but to TEACH, and CARE, and I fear those people are becoming fewer & fewer...I know I could never do it. I haven't the patience! I can't imagine a whole classroom trying to make me navigate that quicksand...LOL

Anji said...

Alan: You are always welcome, I love your compliments. I wonder where those teachers are now?...

Dawtch: School is a special subject for you at the moment! I like to try to learn something everyday. i'm amazed that there are people who don't see the point. I loved teaching - but I've had to move on.