Live a Thousand Lives

Nora McLellanOne of the many things that annoys me about the media is that their solution to whatever happens to be the social ill of the day is ‘education’, as in adding yet another subject to the already crowded school curriculum.

Yesterday is was cyber-bullying that kids need teaching about and tomorrow it will be something else. I had meant to keep a diary of all the education initiatives that all the various interest groups cry out for so I could have a rant about it, but a teacher has saved me the bother.

In a letter to the Independent just before Christmas, headteacher Ben Warren spelt out the various initiatives demanded by politicians, campaign groups and the media in 2013. These included:

  • The Royal Society wanting more emphasis on science and technology
  • NSPCC wanting something on bullying
  • St John Ambulance asking for first aid on the curriculum
  • Amateur Swimming Association believing that swimming lessons be compulsory

On top of that, some wanted a greater emphasis on poetry while other felt there should be more enterprise education. Famous athletes spoke of the need to tackle obesity and a top tv chef felt that schools aren’t doing enough cookery lessons.

Yet others demanded that schools address the lack of religious knowledge, build character and teach about road safety. And of course we have a Secretary for Education who thinks that British history should be the priority, that and geography with more Latin lessons thrown in.

It makes you wonder how the schools will ever find time to actually teach the basics of numeracy and literacy, or how I’ve managed to reach my age without any of the above.

Ship's DogTeachers are meant to inspire and give you the tools for life-long learning. One such for me was Mrs McLellan who taught me at Globe Lane School and who brought reading to life.

One book I recall was Ship’s Dog which was about, well… a ship’s dog, but the tale was magical for a seven year old boy who quite liked dogs.

Anyway, it inspired me to carry on reading for pleasure, hence the title of the post: ‘A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies… The man who never reads lives only one.’

I’d assumed that Mrs McLellan must have passed away many years ago, but I was wrong. That’s her at the top of the page having reached her 100th birthday.

Nora McLellan cuttingThe picture isn’t a good one because I’ve taken it from a cutting that was scanned and emailed to me all the way from Australia through one of those degrees of separation narrowed by the interweb, even though she lived only a few miles from me.

It seems she lived life to the full (click the cutting to read it) and had been on my list to try to visit her in the new year, but sadly she died on 2nd January, so I will never get the opportunity to thank her in person. I shall have to make do with this post to express my appreciation for a very good teacher.

Heaven knows what she would make of all the nonsense foisted on our schools today.

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

2 comments… Add yours
  • Jennyta 10th January 2014

    It’s lovely when people appreciate their former teachers- makes the job worthwhile. My Dad was in contact with one of his teachers for many years, until the teacher died in his nineties and still talks about various teachers he had from time to time.

  • Didactic Pudding 10th January 2014

    How sad that you didn’t have one last meeting with Mrs McLellan.
    With regard to all those initiatives foisted on schools, I swear that in my time I received so many official glossy A4 ring binders that I could have built a garden shed with them. And how were we meant to take it all on board – to assimilate and activate before yet another perhaps contradictory initiative dropped on our desks? Such a deluge of stuff undermines a teacher’s confidence – makes you wonder if you are getting it right – makes you feel guilty that you use your nights for sleeping. How very different it was when I first started and thanks to Bangkok for reminding me of how teaching used to be.


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