MAKE A DIFFERENCE

MAKE A DIFFERENCE

I went to the best school in my area. It was a prestigious Grammar School where the highest level of standards were expected.

The teachers were strict and the lessons were extremely formal. Our school uniform was a tie and a blazer with smart trousers and polished shoes.

To be considered successful, you either had to excel at sport or pass your A-levels with top A grade marks. Anything less was looked upon unfavourably.

When I was still 12 years old, my Latin teacher, Mr Wilson, took me to one side and said, “You won’t do very well here, you’ll never pass the exams”.

I had been at the school for just 3 months. I had at least another 4 years ahead of me. What I probably needed was encouragement, not to be told that I was going to fail.

As it turns out though, he was right. I didn’t pass the Latin exam.

I didn’t stand a chance because I wasn’t very good at doing exams. I couldn’t remember what I had learnt. I found Latin hard and the lessons were a bit boring. Mr Wilson didn’t pay much attention to me, he thought I was a lost cause.

I also had problems in my French lessons. In my mock exam, a kind of pre-exam test, I only got 6% of the questions right, one of the lowest scores in the school.

Dr White-Taylor was my French teacher. He saw that I was struggling, but instead of looking at it as my failure, he saw it as his.

For the rest of the term, he made sure that I was included in all the discussions during class. He made sure that I and the rest of the class had understood and he encouraged us to practice amongst ourselves by creating scenarios and acting out real life situations in French.

He motivated everyone to improve. His classes were brilliant and funny. He made us enjoy coming to his lessons.

At the final exam, I got an A grade. From 6% to an A grade. An impressive turnaround.

I still remember the things I learnt 30 years later and I can communicate sufficiently well when I go to France on holiday.

Some of us aren’t very good at taking exams or learning from books. We need stimulation. We need to do not just study.

Teachers that recognise this and inspire their students are the ones we remember for the rest of our lives.

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