Over the course of my education, I was lucky enough to have some wonderful teachers. Some were manifestly great and truly inspirational, such as Mr Tedstone and Dr Smith. Some, like Mr Harris, had an influence which I didn’t appreciate at the time. And some, such as Mr Mann and Mr D’Almeida, scared the living daylights out of me, but taught me lessons which I have never lost sight of.
Of course, there were others who had the opposite effect, whose ability to teach me didn’t take me anything like as far as I thought it should have done, with the result that I went from thinking they were wonderful to having severe reservations about anything they ever told me. All of these people will, I am sure feature here at some point.
Today, though, is reserved for the undisputed title of worst teacher I ever had. Surprisingly, there is a tie for this coveted award. Even more remarkably, the tie is between that rare thing, a husband and wife who taught at the same school.
I don’t hold against Mme Davey the fact that she was French. I don’t even hold against her the fact that she was short, fat, obnoxious and a bit thick. What I do hold against her is the fact that she singlehandedly managed to turn me off the French language.
Before I encountered Mme Davey I was reasonably good at French. Not good enough to be at the top of the class, nowhere near as good at it as my sister Karen, but good enough to have carried on studying it, given a decent and understanding teacher.
Instead, Mme Davey wrote this on one of my reports:
Richard scored 74 in the recent exam, which wasn’t the best standard
This comment ignored three basic facts. First, that my score of 74 was actually the third best in the class of over 30. Second, that the only two people to beat me were the freakishly-good-at-French Sanna Tetteh and the freakishly-good-at-absolutely-bloody-everything Corinne Jackson, whose ability to pass French exams not even Mme Davey could hinder.
Third, and most importantly, Mme Davey’s comment ignores the fact that . If I wasn’t hitting the ‘best standard’, why was she not making sure that I did?
At this point I gave up on French. All I saw was a bleak future which included three more years of La Davey. I decided that I’d rather spend my time being taught by someone who at least looked like they knew what they were doing.