Monday, 19 March 2012

Tread Softly

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams

W.B. Yeats (1865–1939

My favourite poem came to mind this weekend, brought about by three events, all involving school teachers.  The last two lines of Mr Yeats's beautiful poem could easily be a student's plea to a teacher.

On Saturday morning we met up with my brother for brunch.  He is a high school teacher in his final year of teaching (but he could be doing a Melba).  He had just returned from a two day excursion which he had organised - the Year 9 History/Visual Arts excursion to our National Capital involving well over 200 boys.  His passion for teaching history is infectious and has not faded over all the years.  I know he will be greatly missed when he does retire .... eventually.

On Sunday the order of nuns who made my school days so happy celebrated their 800th anniversary and no, I was not an original student.  St Clare of Assisi founded the order in March 1212 and it was a joyous occasion yesterday when past students, friends and family gathered to help the nuns celebrate the momentous occasion.  The young nun who inspired me way back in the Fifties was there, now in her late eighties.  I sat next to her along with my classmates, and we grandmothers were for a short time once again teenagers, sitting with our favourite teacher, a strong woman with a delightful sense of humour who helped guide us through those difficult adolescent years.

The third teacher related event was something I recalled a few days after our daughter called excitedly to advise us that she was a finalist in this year's Sulman Prize.  I had completely forgotten that as a young high school student in Queensland she had been so poorly treated by her art teacher that she dropped the subject completely.  This teacher took away all her self-confidence with her sarcasm, scorn and sharp tongue.  

We returned to Sydney when our daughter was entering her last two years at school and during the interview with the school principal Tony happened to mention that Maz had been a promising art student until the her art teacher's appalling treatment all became too much for her to handle.  It was a chance remark which the principal immediately took up and encouraged Maz to consider resuming her art classes, as the school had an excellent reputation with their arts programme.  Thankfully she was persuaded to do so and under the care of the school's art teacher, printmaker Rick Badger, she blossomed.  The rest is history.

Three wonderful teachers, one bad one.  We've all had them.  Thank goodness it's the good ones who remain in our memories.  God bless them. 

1 comment:

Chrisy said...

Oh yes good and bad in every profession and I know from being a high school teacher for a few years that it's such hard work...the students tho...each of them is precious...each deserves respect and encouragement...I'm so pleased your daughter continued with her art...