Teacher’s Pet

Daily Prompt Post: Tell us about a teacher who had a real impact on your life, either for the better or the worse. How is your life different today because of him or her?

My favourite teacher was one that I didn’t meet until my second last year of school, though it quickly felt like I’d known her for a long time.  It’s funny, at first I really didn’t like her…through no fault of her own.  I’d had a favourite teacher since Year 7, and she was supposed to be teaching me Theatre Studies in Year 11, my first class with her since Year 8.  I was so excited.  I rock up on the first day only to find she’d left the school without so much as a goodbye (in fact, she’d ended the conversation with “see you next year!” before school let out) so I was floored and guttered.  Ms Tolli had taken her place, a teacher brand new to the school.  I didn’t know her at all, but she was replacing my then-favourite teacher and nobody was going to be better than her.

It didn’t take too long for her to show us her fun and awesome she was though, and quickly the whole class were counting down to her classes.  Realistically, I probably shouldn’t have been doing that class at all (I only signed up for it because I wanted to be in the original teacher’s grade).  I was shy, awkward and wasn’t really interested in theatre at all.  Despite all that, Ms Tolli made me (and others in a similar situation) feel like we belonged and that would could do it.

She was supportive and really had our best interests at heart.  More than that, we saw her as a friend.  Looking back, I’m not even sure how she managed that, because mostly when teachers try to pull that off, they just come off as try-hards.  Not Ms Tolli though.

The main project of our theatre studies class was putting on a play from scratch, using only the people in our class.  The class was pretty small really, only maybe 15 people, so that’s no small fete.  We wound up spending a lot of time outside of normal school hours working on it, helping the actors learn their lines, building sets, working out the costumes and music.  We became more than just a class of Year-11s-and-12s, we were like a little family, with Ms Tolli as our surrogate mum.

I feel like I grew up a lot that year, thanks to her mentoring and kindness.  I started the year as shy and timid, and left with confidence and a stronger belief in myself.

We were so close by the end of the year that we celebrated at Ms Tolli’s house with a BBQ and booze.  Throughout the year we’d gotten to know her three young kids, and they were so happy we were there and including them.  Everyone was really sad the year was ending.  Half the class was finishing school completely, and others weren’t taking up her class next year (drama).  I was though, purely because I wanted another year with her.

I still miss her sometimes, and wish we were in contact.  I don’t know where I’d be now if she hadn’t given me the confidence and self-belief that she did.  Thanks for everything Vanda ❤

Revisiting My MySpace Blogs – “I Admit: I Don’t Know” (Posted 2006)

So, like I mentioned briefly last night, I finally got ahold of all my old MySpace blogs.  Some of the stuff I posted is highly embarrassing and I wish someone would have given me a swift kick in the pants for writing it, but other stuff is actually really  nice to look back on.  The one I’m going to share today both resonated and amused me when I read it.  I’ve cut out the irrelevant first half (it was a really long blog!) and just left in the bit that I wanted to address.  This was written towards of year 10, back when I’d only recently turned 16 and was heading into my big final two years of school the following year.  (I decided to leave all the terrible grammar and spelling in to keep in authentic…apparently capital letters weren’t cool back then).

I Admit: I Don’t Know (Posted : 2006-08-02)

the time had to come of coarse. there was no denying that. it’s the time where we have to choose subjects for our final two years of school, and with that, a career path. and i hate it. i was never the kid to think “i’m gonna be a firefighter” or whatever. well, not for more then a few days anyway. and although the thought had crossed my mind once or twice, i never really thought about it, just chucked it on the too hard pile for another day. and now the time has come where there really isn’t any time left for thinking…well, there IS of coarse, but you had to at least have a loose idea. and i sort of do. but i just can’t see myself staying with one job. and that isn’t a good thing. if you jump careers all the time, it’s not going to be a steady income. and i’m not a moron. i know how important that is. damn, just covering the cost of petrol is more then enough reason to just decide on a proffesion and stick with it. and i’ve narrowed it down to two fields – music or computers. i know, big shock huh? lol. not really. music, well, i’d LOVE to be in a band, but i can’t sing, and am only just moving into a sort-of-okay guitarist. i’m not brilliant, but i definately have stepped up quite a bit since i started. gimme two years i think, and then maybe i’ll be ready. but nah, even if i was in a band, that’d be gigging at nights, and it wouldn’t be an income. i know that. so i was thinking maybe a sound technician. or if it was computers, it would either be something to do with the internet like a webmaster/designer, or like a computer programmer. had a “taster” at the local nmit tafe two days ago, and it was on the visual design coarses. that isn’t for me. i know that. but there was a Q-and-A after lunch, and one of the students they got to talk was studying music, and they’ve just brought in a diploma in it, and the guy talking was in the band we saw afterwards. and it made me want to do that, but at the same time think that i’d complete it and then go “nah, i’m over this” and do computers. ohhh i’m so confused. that’s another reason why i was probably crabby. i don’t know. and that’s the extent of it, of all of this i suppose, I DON’T KNOW. i’m only sixteen! twenty-year-olds don’t know what they want half the time. i can’t vote. i can’t drive without someone next to me. i can’t smoke (not that i would). i can’t drink. so why in the hell am i am even thinking about a career path? i’m not saying that i should be treated like a four year old, coz i’m not. i want to be part of the adult world. but at the same time, you can’t expect us to know when we’re sixteen. not properly. well, not me anyway. i just know that i’ll choose something now and in six months time go “what was i thinking?”. and by then it’s too late. urgh i just want someone to tell me what i want. it’s draining and stressful and confusing. but i’m not complaining. well, no more then anyone else.

I really liked this post in particular as I still completely agree with what I wrote, which is unusual considering I’m now well and truely on the other side of the fence.  A majority of the stuff I wrote/complained/whined about back then I now understand better and therefore, don’t really agree with any more, but this post is still so true!

I can’t believe schools expect kids to know what they want to do at such a young age.  As I addressed in the post, kids that age have no legal rights whatsoever, and yet they’re expected to know what they want to do as a career for potentially their whole life?  I mean, I understand that choosing the wrong subjects isn’t the end of a particular career path should you decide later on, but between the ages of 18-21, further education places do check what subjects were taken and the results, and if something wasn’t taken you’d have to jump through some big (often time consuming) hoops.  That’s a lot of pressure to put onto people that young!  Especially when on top of that, the teachers are all crying “Year 11 and 12 are the hardest years of your lives, you have to study, you have to get good grades, you need a good final score or you won’t get into further education and you won’t have a good job!”.  Essentially, if you don’t do well, you’re life is over.  Looking at it from the other side, it’s 100% a dirty, dirty lie.  Let’s not even get into what schools consider “careers” – if it doesn’t have a fancy title or a 4-year coarse behind it, it isn’t one.

I was lucky.  Little did I know when I posted that blog, that halfway through Year 12 I’d get accepted into film school and it would make my end of year results irrelevant.  Little did I know at that time that film school (although fun) would take me absolutely nowhere and I’d be forging a career in telco.  This is exactly what I mean by putting so much pressure on young people though.  In that post, I’m frantically trying to pick a job out of thin air that I know very little about.  I landed on a sound technician (which I’ll bet is generally a super boring job aside from the occasional live-show gigs) or a computer technician (ha, with my maths skills?  I don’t think so).  It wasn’t until partway through year 12 I decided to pursue film, and honestly, even that was on a bit of a whim.

You have to do something.

That’s the mentality of the final years of high school.  As you’re finishing your education, it’s like a rite of passage that you go to uni.  I mean, sure, you can take a gap year if you need some time away from study, but even then the idea of that is you’ll go right back to uni after you’ve had your fun.  Not once did anyone ever say “keep working in retail until you know what you want, it’s okay”.  I wish someone would have though.  Maybe I wouldn’t have wasted my parents money doing a coarse I’ll never use.  Maybe I’d like retail.  Granted, the pay isn’t fantastic, but it’s still a career path.  You can still work your way up like any job.  And if you’ve done retail for awhile and then finally work out what you want to do with your life, what have you wasted?  Only a little bit of time, but chances are if you hadn’t given yourself that, you’d probably be studying something completely different.  What’s a year or two in a shitty job if it means you’ll make the right choice longterm?  This is what schools should be saying.  They won’t though, because I’m sure it makes them look fantastic if they can say “two-thirds of our year level went on to do further studies”.  They’ll never follow up to see how many of those same students wound up working in the field they studied in (or even how many finished the coarse in the first place).

This is where the education system fails people.  It’s all a big competition.  Instead of making it about the students, it’s about the results.  All that means is students are worked too hard to get grades they may never even need, to be brainwashed into thinking they absolutely have to do further studies.  It results in depression, anxiety, kids dropping out of school early or, worse, suicide.  Over what?  A stupid coarse that’s make-or-break over a stupid final mark?

Fuck that shit.

Especially because after 21, that mark becomes absolutely irrelevant.  You’re classified as a mature-aged student and you have free choice of almost any coarse you like.  Let me restate that again for you: kids are literally killing themselves trying to get into a coarse at age 18 they could breeze into at age 21.  All because the schools are acting like it’s the most important thing in the world.

To anyone still in school reading this, please don’t get caught up in all this bullshit.  You’re so young.  Enjoy it.  Don’t let anyone convince you that your final marks are the be-all-and-end-all.  Please don’t think you need to have a life plan now.  Things will change, people will come and go from your life, your attitudes and ideas and mindsets will shift.  You have no idea what lies ahead, and making a life plan before you’re out of teenage-hood is absolutely crazy and a waste of precious time.   Don’t get me wrong, if you have an idea, go for it.  Ultimately, a couple of years spent in retail, or on a coarse that doesn’t help you, is nothing.  Stressing about it all is something though – it’s bad for your health and you’re too young for that.  You’ll have so many reasons to stress later in life, don’t let it get to you now!  Go out, be crazy and take heaps and heaps of photos.  You’ll never be this young and free again!

What are your thoughts?  Did you wind up doing the job you thought you would at age 16?

-JD