My time in school was less then perfect. My home life was worse, so the school had the honour of having me there whenever I could volunteer for any out of hours assistance. For this, I became a bit of a teacher's pet.
The first hang out was in my second year (or year 8 as they now call it!?) and I'd spotted early one morning my form tutor, a vampire lookalike called Mr. Garlick (I kid you not), setting up a spectrum and loading some sort of program. When I mentioned it to him, he asked if I wanted to use it at lunchtimes. The spectrum club was born, and for a while we'd all gather at lunchtimes to play Lunar Jetman or Pyjamarama before swapping games to take home and copy at our leisure.
We soon tired of this however, and one morning I was asked to help the computer teacher to set up the Link 480z network. The computers were all stored in a safe room overnight, and each morning they'd all have to be plugged in and then booted. The reward for this was half an hour of playing pangolins or some other cell domination game.
My world, believe it or not, did not revolve around computers at this time. So much so, I became a school librarian (!). 4 of us would gather in the vast school library every lunchtime, where the head librarian would leave us whilst she went for her lunch. We'd cover books, we'd play 'penny up the wall,' we'd break the window as a child tried to look through the one way glass installed to stop the books from fading and got punched from inside the window. The incident wasn't well received and we had to leave at lunchtimes, so I moved to my most popular hang out.
Mr Burns, very cool hippy from Brighton, and my art teacher, allowed us to hang out in the art room. A small handful of us arty types would get together, and we'd actually do work or more then likely listen to music and doodle.
One boy, a guy called Toby Lane, had a learning disability. I suspect it was mild autism, but he was always an outsider. One thing he did well was have a sense of humour when it came to his artwork. He would do the best cartoons ever, and everyday he'd ask us at the start of the lunch hour a subject to draw. One day I remember someone suggesting lemmings (the game had just come out), and he did his usual trick of sitting there scribbling away on a sheet of A2. By the end he had a scene from the bottom of a cliff, with various lemmings in a state of throwing themselves to their death. One with a parachute, pulling the ripcord frantically. Another shouting 'Geronimo!', and a third launching himself in a hang glider. At the bottom were the less then successful candidates scoring the free fallers or watching whilst in plastercasts. He left school with no qualifications except art. He failed to get into art college because he only had 1 GCSE, set up his own business making prints of his cartoons and made millions selling them to Athena, the high street poster shop.
Anyway, I digress. Mr Burns was my favouritist teacher. He was there when I applied for art college. He was there when I made my portfolio for them. He was there when I was told I wasn't good enough. He was even there to award me my only A grade when I got my results that summer.
Another teacher who inspired me was Mr. McGill, my English teacher. Mr. McGill wasn't your typical English teacher. Sure, he wore tweed jackets with leather patches on the elbows. Sure, he smoked a pipe. Sure, he drove a Citroen 2CV. But the difference was he made us read books worth reading. His only bad choice of book to read was 'the taming of the shrew' but this was because he had to include some Shakespeare. He made us read Lord of the Flies, which as a young male brimming with testosterone was exciting if not slightly unbelievable. He made us read Animal Farm (the book, not the porno) and 1984. He made us read the Time Machine. And last but not least he made us read a certain Douglas Adams novel, the name of which escapes me.
One other teacher was popular in my school life. Mr. Cluer, my Physics teacher, must have been the butt of jokes in the staffroom. He was small, weedy, of red hair, and had a beard. He also didn't give a toss about health and safety. He respected his students, like the young adults that we all thought we were. He'd trust us to do our work and we'd all look up to him for this. He was the main reason I got involved with electronics. He had a system for explaining electricity like water flowing, and this system is still used by me today. He had a lecture area at one end of the lab, and would carry out experiments in front of the whole class much like you see in medical schools in the US.
The point to this tale is that these teachers inspired me. My computer teacher was a large blonde woman who was probably lesbian, most certainly a man hater, and everything I did was wrong. For this reason I failed my computer studies miserably. Meanwhile, I passed my Art, Physics and English admirably.
It says a lot for teaching styles.
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