30 March 2006

On blowing my own trumpet

...because as my mother used to say, "no-one else will blow it for you!"

It's not exactly media-hype; but thanks to Steven Jones for a very fair, if skilfully selective, account of our discussion at the link in the heading. So far, I haven't the
chutzpah to put a direct link on my site, but I'll get there!

I drafted what's above a week or so ago as soon as the article was on the web, but forebore to publish. It would be self-indulgent, I thought.

But my brother mentioned it to the former head of my primary(elementary) school (she actually took over after I left, but my mother was still teaching there... I haven't mentioned before that my mother was once my class teacher, have I? Well, doctor.........) She is 93; she wrote me a real (paper and ink) letter, in a beautiful teacher's hand, which was generally very complimentary.

But, she picked me up on my (reported) use of "bureaucratise". Had I succumbed to the very jargon I castigate?

Apart from being delighted at the feedback, I felt at once as if I were before her at the teacher's desk for having yet again mis-spelled "becuase" (sorry! "because"). Two reflections;

  • the potency of the teacher/pupil relationship. For better or worse, it has an impact fifty-two years later. The UK teaching development agency has a slogan, "No-one ever forgets a good teacher". I'm not so sure about that; few people forget bad teachers, either. But I am still challenged by her comment much more than I would be had it come from anyone else!
  • Her integrity; she gave me that feedback. It was I (I have to careful about syntax here--she might read this!--should I say "me" as assumed object, or "I" as the technically correct complement?) who volunteered the information, but she could not forebear to correct me.
I can't begin to express the happy confusion of feelings this exchange engendered. Mrs B retired 30+ years ago, but she is still a teacher at heart. There's a chiasmus here; "You can take the person out of teaching, but you can't take the teacher out of the person." It could work nastily, but this was wholly benign, and I was delighted.

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