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Book Reviews

E is for English Teachers

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.

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