Copyright Helge Øverås
When I started High School (some 25 years ago… gosh where did the time go?) I was introduced to the world of good and the not so good English teachers. Unfortunately the first couple of years the teachers which took my class fell into the latter category. I still remember their faces, and if I search the dark corners of those little grey cells I find their names. But overall they remain unremarkable.
In my 4th year at High School, I got a ‘good one’.
And that changed my whole perspective on boring English. My teacher, Mr. B, was short in stature but what he lacked in height he made up with enthusiasm. We read that year, poetry from the First World War. This surprised me because first I didn’t realize there were any poets during the war and secondly because I enjoyed it. Mr. B required us to think, to feel, and to dig deeper into the written word. This inspired me to learn more independently from school and I spent hours in the library reading poetry from the war and reading about the men who often died writing it. I still enjoy reading about authors and learning their ‘story’; sometimes more so than the books they write.
During these classes we also looked at song lyrics. As a teenager of the 80s, it shocked me to learn that song writers had penned down words that were not only about unrequited love or being madly in love. One lesson we looked at some lyrics by Sting, and although I can’t remember which song exactly (I do know it wasn’t Demolition Man lol), I found a great liking for both Sting and of the beauty of words put to song. They’ve remained with me ever since.
That year I got juggled about in English classes but managed to land another excellend English teacher. Mr. H was a middle aged teacher with a haircut that wouldn’t have looked out of place on Friar Tuck. It was in his lessons we read ‘Of Mice and Men’ in class and it was the first time I realized you could bring characters to life through dialogue. Mr. H would read the book with an American accent and I was captivated. He made the book come alive. And when we were finished with that book he made Shakespeare understandable, and dare I say, enjoyable.
These 2 teachers made an impact on a teenage girl and for that, I’m very grateful to this day.