My family is moving in two weeks out of the house I’ve lived in for my whole life, so it doesn’t really come as a surprise that there is a lot of crap to sort through. I came across my old school reports (teachers really need to use words other than ‘conscientious’) and it came as a bit of a shock that I wasn’t always good at English. Now, this isn’t me being all ‘I am a genius, how could I have ever been bad?’. No, this is me saying that there was a time that my best subject was Maths and my worst was English; which is something a Classics-with-English student never expects to discover. I was looking through my primary school books (it’s unsurprising to see that I was never good at art), only to find that English didn’t really appeal to me early on. In fact, the comments from my teachers mainly told me to ‘stop writing about horses, think of other topics’ or ‘stop using the words beautiful and lovely in every piece of work’. It seemed sightly strange to me that, yes, although I was a seven year old obsessed with horses, my teachers were telling me that I shouldn’t write about what interested me. So what if it’s a creative writing piece with the title ‘prints in the snow’, we don’t want to see you following them to find a pony.
Ok, some of you might be thinking that they had a point and sure, I could have tried to write about something that didn’t include horses (or horse related creatures, such as unicorns or a pegasus), but that’s clearly what inspired me to write. That was what I enjoyed. Soon after my horse ban, my writing went downhill and there are comments on my sudden lack of effort and enthusiasm. Clearly I wasn’t impressed with being told I couldn’t write about the one thing that interested me.
Then comes secondary school and in my first year my English marks pick up, only to plummet in my second year (a year which I detested English due to the teacher). Then, out of nowhere, I suddenly start to get really good marks in my third year which only continue to improve throughout the rest of my education – all which was taught by the same English teacher, who I loved. Which brings us to today, where I’m pursuing a career in writing.
If that teacher hadn’t come along, I might have never enjoyed English. I might have stopped having lessons after GCSE. I might have chosen a completely different career path, maybe even choosing sciences, god forbid. It just seems absolutely bizarre to me that something like what teacher you have, which shouldn’t impact your education, changes your whole life. Maybe if I had a fantastic chemistry teacher who inspired me I would have decided to take it for A Level, and then gone on to do something like biochemistry. It’s pretty terrifying, actually, to think like that. English (and Classics, of course) is what I always think makes me, well, me. I’m the girl who is always reading, always writing, who wants to be an author, who is desperately trying to discover how I can get publishers to send me books for free to review – because, of course, everything is better with free books. Of course there are other things that make me who I am – this is where I include a shoutout to my family, my dog, my friends etc – but I’ve always thought that English was always my thing. I found a script, of all things, for a play that I wrote at a very young age (it’s about a group of kids who investigate a graveyard where there’s a vampire who they eventually defeat with the help of their dog – Scooby Doo, anyone?). Reading that, I just assumed that I always knew writing was what I wanted to do. But apparently not.
Teachers change your life. They do, as silly as it sounds. You think it all depends on what school you go to, but it also depends on what teacher you get. Maybe if I had been encouraged in primary school to write about whatever makes me interested, I would have been better at the subject earlier on instead of being upset that I was told to stop writing what inspired me. Maybe if that history teacher I had in my first few years of secondary school had taught me for GCSE as well I would have continued it. Maybe if my maths teacher didn’t ‘jokingly’ call me Twit every single lesson, I might have been more confident about my abilities. Maybe if my PE teachers didn’t make me feel completely inadequate at AS, asking me constantly if I my handicap in golf had dropped every week, I might have enjoyed it and done better in the exam. Maybe, just maybe, teachers are far more important than you first think.