Tue, Jun 5, 2012
When I was in Standard 4 (the equivalent of Grade 6) at Muir College in Uitenahge, we had a new English teacher arrive in May. He was actually high-school trained, and set us a stinker of an exam paper. I can still remember one of the questions: Choose the correct word from the pair in brackets in the following: One of the apples (is/are) bad. I wrote are. When I discussed the exam paper with my father afterwards, he said: ‘No, it’s is; one is, not one are.’ I decided there and then that I was going to master the English language rather than allowing it to master me – and I decided (having chosen to be a teacher in my first year of school) to major in English. Mr Frankie Esselaar went on to inspire me for the rest of the year – and then he moved to the high school, where he continued his good work in Standard 8 (Grade 10).
I was most fortunate then to have Mrs Iris Dugmore in Standard 5 – someone who conveyed such a love for the subject and teaching it. Funnily enough, after she had retired, she came also back for a year – my Std 7 year. (Interestingly enough, her husband had taught my father English at Muir – and my father always said that this man developed in him a love of English.)
These wonderful people, along with others – Mrs Rhona Ashmead and Mr Cecil Clement – are examples of what teachers ought to be. They did nothing special in terms of methods – no group work, audio-visual aids – they just showed me that they loved what they were doing.
I was then fortunate to go on to Rhodes, where I had a series of wonderful lecturers – including the iconic Professor Guy Butler and the innovative Professor William Branford (who introduced me to Linguistics).
The result was that I went on not only to teach English but to continue studying it to doctorate level.
Having retired from the profession, I can say that these teachers gave me the chance to have one of the most fulfilling careers that anyone could hope for.
How about telling us your story about teachers who inspired you? Send you contributions to email@example.com.