I’ve had many. I think I have been in education for as long as I can remember. But there have been a few memorable encounters. There are two that stick in my head, mirror images of each other.
The first was a favourite teacher of mine. He had given me my highest mark to date and I trusted him. So when I was denied funding for my dissertation I went to him. I knocked on his door.
“Yes,” he growled, and it truly was a growl. My hand paused before I pushed open the door. “What?” He looked like a thunder-cloud.
“I know. You have been denied funding.”
“Nothing. You are an art student as well as a biochemist. They won’t pay and nor will the science department.”
“But…” And I allowed the door to swing close.
“Don’t shut the door. You won’t be staying that long.”
And that was it. My teacher was no more. His open friendly face forever tarnished and I was left without funding. I changed my dissertation and got on with it. He taught me effectively that it isn’t what you know but who. And I didn’t know the right people. I walked away realising that how good you are didn’t matter if you didn’t have the money.
It was a hard lesson.
The next is a much happier story. I was thinking about becoming a writer and was going to a free writers group. My lecturer there – Katherine Stansfield – told me I could write. She did this over a number of weeks and I resisted the idea. But under her guidance I got my first two pieces published. I even won a third prize in a poetry competition.
She is what I call a natural teacher. She is supportive and gives you enough guidance that you can spread your own wings in order to reach heights she points out to you, even if they are so very far above your own expectations. She gave me hope that talent could be used alone to get you onto the ladder, it didn’t matter who you knew or if you had money. I mean it helps but you don’t need it. Instead you can patch everything up with determination and bloody-mindedness. Both of which I possess is spades. So she has set me on the road to writing.
And just to give a little back – she has recently got a book published. It’s good. Click on the image below and see what you think. 🙂