I also distinctly remember learning to read and the thrill I had progressing through different levels of reading books (colour coded and gradually more difficult I loved going up a level). I then got to thinking about the teachers along the way that have influenced or encouraged my love of reading.
This is going to be a big thank you post to all of those people. I'm going to start with my parents for sure, I know my mother bought thicker and bigger books to try and keep me busy, and I used to devour every book she brought home for me. I am so lucky that she encouraged me to spend my time reading, and now, as books and reading and writing have become such a huge part of my life and career, I appreciate it all the more. My dad definitely expanded my reading, recommending books that I would never usually pick up. And as I have learnt more recently is exceedingly well read.
My sister also deserves recognition here. It seems that since my infancy she has envisioned me as a writer and jumped on any example that I am taking a step in that direction as a positive and exciting process. She has been a key part in making sure that the dreams I had as a small child remain my focus today. I'm forever grateful for her continued advice, support and wisdom.
Okay, so lets get on to the actual teachers. It's September and kids are going back to school, some of the teachers they will meet will be huge influences in their lives and perhaps 20 years from now, some of those students will be writing their own blog posts on the subject. I won't name names for the sake of privacy/I can't hunt them all down to ask for permission, but hopefully if you read this, you know who you are.
I've already mentioned learning to read. In my kindergarten classroom, the energy and joy that my teacher put into my reading progress definitely made me work hard to learn. Without this first rung of the ladder, who knows what I would have gone on to do.
Next, the librarian that came in early before lessons started to open up the library. I was dropped off early at school and would curl up on some cushions and she suggested books for me. This is how I read the Laura Ingalls Wilder series. It was the first time someone was impressed by my reading, I was proud to be reading books that the 7th graders were reading! I was reading way above my level and not even trying. I remember very little about her, but the time spent in that library (which actually was in one of those portacabin classrooms) is something I won't forget in a hurry.
I had a strange English teacher in my first year of high school. Apparently on the last day of term he would play the guitar for you and was particularly famous for this, although I never saw him play. It was the first study of poetry I had ever done in a classroom and I loved it! At this particular school they obsessed over the fact that I didn't do the homework and predicted very poor results in all of my subjects I was punished mercilessly for not doing homework. BUT I never skipped a lesson, it didn't even occur to me to bunk off. I still went to the lessons and learnt everything. Imagine their surprise when my English exam came in the top percentile for Literature and top of the year for English Language. I did well in every other subject. My mythical guitar playing teacher was forced to award me a detention after I failed to complete some homework. My essay subject: The Importance of Homework. After he read it, with me standing silently in front of him, he said I would make a good teacher, and that I obviously understand and respect the need for work outside of the classroom. Why hadn't I done the assignment? I think I replied something to the effect that I was reading. I remember his smile, I think he may have been the only teacher that understood me there.
After moving to a much more effective school for me, I met the most brilliant set of teachers in all subjects. But in particular I was luck enough to have the two best of department, one at GCSEs and the other at A level. Both deserve a multi layered thank you, for introducing me to some of my favourite authors and subjects. They also both received a dedication in my dissertation at University for giving me my love of Literature.
Lastly, my tutors at Uni. Some of the most well read and impressive people I have ever met, I am glad to still be in contact with some of them. I respect them even more now that I know them as friends and have a much more rounded view of them, their tastes and their interests. A fabulous bunch. I was so lucky to be assigned my dissertation tutor, he was hired in the gap between my applying and getting assigned someone and luckily he was PERFECT. I absolutely struck gold, his office was filled with resources that almost seemed tailored to me and he was friends with the man who wrote the most recent biography of one of the authors I was focused on. BONUS.
That's the lot. I hope that the teachers and tutors and friends that those in education meet this year will be as important and interesting as mine have been.
Happy new school year everyone!