Teach me

I was into games before I was into history. It was a school teacher who inspired me – first about history, and second to understand that wargaming gave me the opportunity to enjoy two interests at the same time. That inspiration sparked (a) a thirst for knowledge that remains in full force and effect; and (b) a recognition that I had been fortunate, in more ways than one. My admiration and respect for the teacher grew, and I wanted to give something back.

Years later, as a qualified lawyer, I was given the opportunity to experience teaching from the other side of the classroom. I was a tutor in the civil advocacy and pleading course of the law diploma at the University of Strathclyde.

Although I was dealing with graduates, it has to be said that some of them exhibited less maturity than I expected. The worst cases were the children of lawyers or judges – young adults who had some form of pre-packaged arrogance, lack of humility, and apparent disdain for the rest of the world. In short, they seemed destined to play the part to match the public’s perception of lawyers.

Thankfully, these were precious few in number, and they could never take away the rich and rewarding experiences I had, teaching there. I met sharp thinkers and great advocates (in the general sense of the word) from across a wide spectrum of society.

The number one recollection? It was hard work. If I wanted to give the best lesson in the available time, I had to prepare for every session. I couldn’t do it on autopilot. Even though I taught there for several years (over a decade, from memory) I had to approach each class afresh, and prepare, prepare, prepare.

The number two recollection? It was rewarding. I got a real buzz from seeing people participate in the sessions, and take some of their first steps in the arena of the law.

The number three recollection? My admiration and respect for the teaching profession grew with every passing year.

I felt the need to write this post after reading The revolution that could change the way your child is taught on the Guardian site. I remain skeptical of universal solutions and the like, but I want to be optimistic and so hope that the ideas represented there are useful. Reading it should remind you how important teaching is.