We're supposed to be writing a 2000 word essay about our own "experiences as a learner" - both in school and elsewhere. But of course it's impossible for me to write about school without writing about how badly I was bullied. And that's stirring up all sorts of emotions. Have a chunk of my essay to read:
I would highlight one of my science teachers as an example of how not to teach. For a start, she made it very clear which members of the class she liked. Her favourites could get away with anything, while the pupils she disliked would be yelled at for trivial offenses. I very much fell in the second camp. My theory now is she rejected me because I was too clever, and did not yet have the maturity to hide it. She picked on me because I sat at the front and put my hand up for every question, like Lisa in The Simpsons. She didn’t like it when I finished my work too quickly, or if I found a better way to do something than the way the book said. Her particular criticism was that I made “irrelevant” comments. I remember this well: we were doing flame tests of metals in a general science class, and I asked if that was how the colours of fireworks were made. At university, I eventually found out that, indeed, that was the case. But my teacher had done her best to make me feel small, and crush my natural enthusiasm for the subject out of me.
I have a small amount of sympathy for her, because I discovered later that she had been battling cancer for a while, and this had obviously affected her energy for dealing with "difficult" pupils. But I wasn’t disruptive – I was just really interested in science! I still feel upset, more than ten years on, for having my teacher ridicule me in front of the class for no worse offence than enjoying the subject. I was, of course, bullied horrendously throughout my schooling. I was intelligent, good at academic work, shy, sensitive, very bad at sports, and far too trusting – a clear target. Yet, while I am merely angry at the teachers who ignored my complaints even when I had bruises and holes in my uniform, I am outraged at a teacher who acted as a bully herself.
Y'know, this is the actual reason I always rejected the idea of being a teacher when people suggested it to me - the fact it's taken me ten years to stop being scared of large groups of children in school uniform. Even this time last year, I'd cringe if I was on the train at 4pm when there was an influx of kids, in case they noticed me - even though rationally I knew I must register only as a slightly odd-looking adult, not one of their peers who could be a good target. The part of my brain that was still 12 years old would go "meep - got to hide before they see me". It just completely fucking sucks.
And don't tell me I'm brave for going into teaching. I'm doing it because those poor kids who are geeks and freaks need someone there who's on their side - who has the authority to actually kick the asses of the ones who make their lives hell. Frankly, I don't want anyone else in the whole world to have to go through what I had to go through. I can't help everyone - but I can make a start.