That was my longest hiatus ever from blogging, so far! While my head has been percolating with ideas for posts, my hands just could not keep up.  But it’s good to be back in the swing of things, despite the treacherous cold.  Breaking news: it’s winter!  So here we go…

Have you ever had a teacher who changed your life?  I haven’t.

I am always in awe of stories about teachers who made such an impact on a student’s life that the teacher would be given credit for the student’s future success.  When I think back to my teachers throughout my school years, not a single one stands out as one who was extraordinary, never mind someone who changed my life.  Some were good, some were unorthodox, many were terrible and never should have been awarded a teaching degree.

The closest I ever came to a teacher who seemed to care about me was a university stats professor.  At the time, I thought he was about 80 years old, but he was probably closer to 60.  He phoned me at home, excited to tell me that I had a perfect score on my final exam.  It was all I could do to not giggle when he suggested I consider pursuing a future in statistics.  It’s not his fault. The education system at any level doesn’t provide real-world, practical advice to inspire career goals – how was I going to apply an expertise in statistics in any job, I thought.  But had I been told that a degree in economics could have made me rich as an investment banker, for example, I would have considered it more seriously!  Every student should be given mandatory career counselling so that they can understand the thousands of possibilities that lie ahead of them, based on where they seem to excel.

I hope DQ will one day have a teacher whom she will admire and look to for guidance.  It’s important for children to have mentors outside the home.  I respect the teaching profession, and I’d like to believe that all teachers choose to pursue the profession out of altruism and a burning desire to help people learn and grow. I unfortunately did not witness a whole lot of that passion in my own experience.  Most of them really tried, I could tell.  But as with finding the perfect partner in life, it’s tough to get a teacher who is the “whole package”: interesting and passionate, really cares that you learn, and most importantly, knows how to teach.  Remember the teachers who read straight out of the text book and that was the lesson?  Kill me now.

I suppose where there is the greatest opportunity for teacher impact is with a disadvantaged student: someone who comes from a broken home, living in borderline conditions, having to care for a sick parent… the scenarios are unfortunately endless and real.  These are the situations out of which great teacher stories are born, because teachers embrace these moments.  As with politics however, the “middle class” layer of students seems to get lost in the shuffle.  Unless you are seen as doomed or brilliant, you become a cog in the school machinery, just another part of the bell curve.  Maybe that’s where I fell.

Did you have a teacher who changed your life?