Thursday, January 21, 2010

Worshipping teachers (not teachers worshipping!)

I found myself reading an account by Robert Service of his schooldays (In A Hillhead Album, if you're interested) in which he told of the blow to his hero worship of a teacher when he caught sight of said teacher reeling drunkenly from a pub one evening. The combination of his memories and the book they were in (and the fact that we both attended the same school, in our respective eras) had me wondering: do pupils still hero-worship teachers?

I have a feeling they may not. I think they may be more savvy, more exposed to media or sporting heroes, flawed or otherwise, in comparison with whom all mortals will appear pallid. And part of me thinks this is probably a good thing: what a huge responsibility to be the object of such worship, such unquestioning devotion, as well as for the literacy or numeracy or whatever of the child.

And yet I think back to my very first teacher, whom I loved; to the Primary 3 teacher who taught us all about wild birds; to the first male teacher I had, in Primary 6, who was the object of devotion of every one of the 20 or so girls in his class (of 40). Such innocent devotion, I fear, lasted only while we were in Primary school; thereafter there tended to be an element of a more gender-orientated frisson involved in my robustly mixed school and we pitied such friends as had been sent to the likes of Laurel Bank and had to suffer grass-green uniforms as well as a completely female environment. But were these teachers in fact more worthy of devotion than unknown celebrities? And does this sort of thing still happen?

So: if you're still in the classroom, are you aware of pupils adoring you? How do you feel about it if you are? Does it irritate you or flatter? And do you attempt to put them off? Or is this something belonging to a more innocent past when the world was a much smaller place?


  1. I'm sure I would have fancied you Mrs B!

  2. Not quite the same thing, she said severely ...
    Just think - I could have taught you at the start of my career!