Some of you may have seen the news last week about a shortage of male teachers in primary schools. This surprised me, because in my day around 40% of the teaching staff were male, and certainly far nicer than some of the female teachers.
I’ve already mentioned Mr Tedstone, and there are one or two others I will come to in due course as they deserve an entry of their own, but there were plenty of others who flitted through my life during those five years.
I think it was in my second year that the school somehow found itself in the confusing situation of having two new male teachers, both called Mr Hall. Looking back at old photos now, they seem so young, but to us they were of course ancient.
Physically, they were very alike – both on the tall and slim side. Temperamentally they were similar, too, both being kindly sorts with a bit of a temper. Fortunately, there were some significant differences – one had a huge mop of curly brown hair, the other fair hair, glasses and the sort of moustache which you would now only find on Eastern Europeans, Americans and child molesters.
Unusually, we children were actually told their first names, so that we could distinguish between them when talking about them. Despite this, they rapidly became known to us as ‘Mr Games Hall’ and ‘Mr Science Hall’, after the subject that they primarily taught.
The point of all this is that not only did there not seem to be any shortage of male teachers when I was at school, but that there were enough that recruiting two in one year to a school which only had about two dozen staff was nothing that unusual (apart from the names).
Moreover, most of these teachers made an impact upon me. Games lessons became much more organised and structured under Mr Games Hall, and I also remember him making Stephen Compton do PE in his pants after he tried to get out of a lesson by forgetting his kit. Mr Science Hall taught us how to mould perspex and how to screen print, admittedly not skills I have ever needed to use but which remain dimly remembered to this day.
And these are only a couple of the many male teachers that I was educated by at that stage of my life, some of whom had a much bigger impact upon my life. Because of these men, I have always thought that, were I ever insane enough to become a school teacher, primary schools are exactly where I would want to teach, in the hope that I could be even half as big an influence upon a child as they were on me.