I was speaking to someone, who I see as an Oracle of Wisdom, so I think from now on, I will call him that: The Oracle.
We were talking today about a few boring personal things with me and he made me see quite an amazing thing during that conversation.
“Do you remember at any point in your life, there being a teacher who really stood out for the best? That you can really say helped you?”
I thought about this for a moment – my entire education from Mrs Bradbury in nursery to Dr Spence at University whizzing past my mind’s eye. However in my heart, I knew straight up who my ‘one’ was: Mrs Anne Twist in Year 3, bottom juniors.
I was having a difficult time in that year. I was bullied, I was having problems at home that made me act bizarre and eccentric and out of line a lot. I was just very unhappy and trying to find a way forwards, as best as any 8 year old could.
“What did you like best about her?” asked the Oracle and I found myself replying like I was 8 years old again, much to my surprise.
“She was nice and funny and lovely” I said in a small, happy voice.
I went on to describe how I behaved and all the sadness in my life at the time. She encouraged me, she believed in me and she made me smile when I needed someone to.
I expressed to the Oracle that my wish in life was to try and please everyone (and I fail at it quite a bit in the process). He said that you can’t help everyone that needs it, but you can try to take away some of that burden of misery.
She saw in me my own unhappiness and misery at a point in my life were I should have been happy and did something. She couldn’t bundle me up and take me home with her and love me within an inch of my life, but she could help in other, small ways. She could help me focus, let me be creative and let me talk and be heard. She could bring some relief to my dark little lot, even for just one year.
She made a choice: here is a kid acting up because she’s going through a bad time. I can either chastise her, vilify her or shout at her. Or… I could just try and reach her, help her and make her feel happy for six hours a day.
She saw the reality of a situation, saw the truth inside someone’s heart and she rose to the occasion by thinking with her heart.
I never knew she had taught me that. I never knew she taught me more than about the stories of Mildred Hubble or the Egyptians. I never realised that she taught me that it was okay to be weird and not be okay. That I could let out the frustration and pain inside me in a positive way. She was such a force for good.
It is so strange to be 32 and to suddenly realise that there was a dual nature to all the teaching I got in Year 3. It’s extraordinary to think that whilst I was still being taught by Mrs Twist, she managed to reach a child on such a profound level, which helped guard her against the monsters of this world as an adult.
I don’t think I will ever see Mrs Twist again and I haven’t seen her since I was at Primary School. She was a lovely, big hearted and intuitive teacher, who I am certain, touched the hearts and minds of many children over the years.
Sometimes I wish I could be 8 again, sat with the rest of my class in the book corner whilst she read us stories and told us about her cat, Shankly.
The best teachers are not necessarily the ones who fill our heads with knowledge, but touch our lives with love and inspire us to be good people as adults. Mrs Twist was the best of them. She was and is a truly beautiful human being and I thank her from the bottom of my heart.