Monday, May 23, 2016

What does a teacher make?

Can you remember how to do something you were taught forty years ago and haven't practiced since?

What might it be about the teaching that increases the likelihood of this happening? Your answers to this will probably include the quality of the teaching and maybe the personality of the teacher themselves.  So this blog is a salute to the quality of the teacher, namely Mr Hay, who taught German at Biddulph Grammar School, then at Biddulph High School in the 1970s. I got a B in my German O level and have some good memories of German lessons and a school trip to St. Goar in 1976.

Today, 40 years later I find myself in Austria and I can still speak it, and as I speak it more and more comes flooding back, and usually I can hear Mr Hay's voice saying it. 

And because I understand what is said to me, and can have a stab at saying something sensible back, I don't feel so isolated. I feel a sense of connectedness and belonging with strangers - I even helped an elderly Austrian gent find his way on the tram! 

I kind of hope or wish that Mr Hay might still be alive so I can tell him what a good teacher he was. I think a lot of my teacher friends and relations these days feel undervalued, and unappreciated, so may this be an encouragement to you - that what you're doing now is making a difference to the students at the time, and that it lives on a long way into the future, not just as a grade on an exam paper but as something that enriches and empowers.

Vielen dank, Herr Hay.


  1. Sarah - so pleased to read your comment. I was at Biddulph Grammar School in the 60s and failed my German O level twice. Then, whilst having a final go at it during 6th form, I got a decent grade (I think a 3) under the excellent tutelage of Mr Hay. A lovely man and a good trumpet player as I recall.
    Len Beardmore

  2. Anonymous6:16 pm

    I too went on the Grammar School trip to Sankt Goar on the Rhine in 1976. Sadly, have not been able to find anyone who has photos of that trip !! I kept in contact with Mr. HEY, and later had the honour of calling him David ! I last heard from him in 2015. Since then total silence. I have written him letters during this "silence" (to his Congleton home address) and none have been returned "addressee unknown" so I guess he may well be in a residential home or something. He would have turned 87 in January 2017 !!! David motivated me to learn german, and I not only came to live here (Bavaria) nearly 30 years ago, but I also took german nationality as well. I will always be grateful to David for urging me to learn his beloved adopted language. Fond memories of the language lab at Biddulph Grammar and having to "wipe" the tapes at the end of each lesson ! Also fond memories of David playing trumpet in the school jazz band. Mr. Blenkinsopp (russian teacher) by his side on trombone. Happy memories.