There is no doubting the influence of teachers and their sports equivalents — coaches.
After winning the Australian PGA at Royal Pines, the admirable Greg Chalmers went out of his way to thank all his coaches. Each had played a role in taking him step by step to the top of his game. He was apologetic that he had not previously thanked them publicly.
That is the fate of most teachers, however. They don’t always see the end result of their endeavours nor do the recipients of their skills always acknowledge them. We should.
Greg was making his comments at the same time as Australia’s chief scientist, Ian Chubb, was saying that the way to make science interesting was to be creative in the way you taught it. In a way it’s to state the obvious – whether you’re talking the composition of the Universe or the similar mysteries of the golf swing.
I know our science teacher failed miserably. Back turned to the class, his monotone drone and lack of passion continues to haunt me. Other teachers — history, Indonesian and English — retain a special place of gratitude. I recall, as well, the various outstanding teachers our daughter had through her school years — kind, knowledgeable, caring.
As my friend Tim St Ledger wisely says; “To be interesting you must first be interested”.
In writing these words I recall our grade 3 teacher, Mr Maher. What a wonderful man. I saw him once or twice after finishing school and his gentle smile and manner hadn’t changed a bit. “Call me Laurie now,” he said.
I lost track of him down the years but, in quiet moments, I occasionally send out a quiet “thank you” to him and all the others who, on sports fields and in class rooms, shared their knowledge, caring and time.
People like Mr Montague, who did his best to turn me into a quality spin bowler. That he failed said more about the pupil than the teacher. His encouragement is remembered still.
For any teachers reading this, don’t despair if the results seem elusive and appreciation rare. Sometimes, years down the road, those who frustrate you now will realise exactly how good you were. Even if they don’t remember your name, they’ll never forget what you did.
No small achievement.