The good teacher

Posted: February 28, 2014 in Uncategorized
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I recall the first time I was really conscious that I was writing creatively. I was about eight at the time, and I was lucky to be in the relief teacher’s class at the time – Miss Ralph. She was young and English, and teaching in Australia at the time. She was also unlike any teacher I had had before. I was truly in awe of her. She really communicated with her class in a way that reached every individual there. She must have been a good communicator because, at the time, I was a shy girl that sat in class not drawing attention to myself and hoping no-one would notice me. In fact, I had managed to get through my schooling up until that point by being there, but not really being present. I was lost instead in the world of daydreaming and imagination. People – the real world – was a scarey place and the brief forays into town for school from the farm were to be endured as best as I could. The solution for me was to remain as invisible as I could. Let the world spin, because I didn’t like it much anyway. Well, that was until I met Miss Ralph.

It was a grey afternoon in the classroom and time for ‘Composition’ which was creative writing. She gave us a generic topic; as I recall to write about something we enjoyed. I wrote about writing and what I felt like when I wrote. I told her on that one page of blue, lined spaces that when I wrote I became lost in time. I think I said, ‘things go black and when I’ve finished my page is full’. I tried to convey to her that writing took me to another place, to the pictures in my imagination and that in this ‘trance-like’ state, I lost track of my immediate surroundings, and of time. It was a good feeling, I said.

After we handed up our ‘Compositions’, I was called to her desk. She quizzed me about my writing and asked me to describe my ‘writing feelings’ again. She smiled. I knew then I wasn’t in trouble and that somehow she liked what I wrote. She then gave me her commitment. She wanted me to write often, and I would have a key to the bookcase at the back of the classroom. I was to borrow those books and read them as much as I could. From that day forward she encouraged me to write and to read. By the end of the year, I was known as the ‘writer’ and I went from average student to an honours student. I had found myself and thereafter the world became a better place to be in. My eyes opened to my surroundings and to all the world had to offer. To the possibilities, and to what could be experienced.

Today, I’m a full participant in life, though at times I still need to escape from the world – when it becomes ‘scarey’ again; when I feel acutely what is wrong, and when I need to find the safe harbour within myself. But to this day, I write everyday and I’ve lost none of the magic that so enthralled the life of a young eight year old, ‘invisible’, girl at the back of the class.


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