Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Yes, My Students and I Do Have Relationships: Comment

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Yes, My Students and I Do Have Relationships: Comment

Article excerpt

Teachers are not just vessels of information, they are mentors who can inspire even the trickiest teens, as this email exchange shows.

George is an A-level film studies student. He missed the last lesson of the summer term, during which, predictably, he was expected to hand in project work. Instead, he sent me this email later that day:

Sir di di sir sir,

I'm afraid I have come down with the flu and that is why I wasn't in the lesson today, what happened? Was Callan there? Was he drugged up again?? Maybe it's time for the rehab intervention with him ...

Anyway, having the flu has given me good opportunity to watch Withnail and I. I thought it was amazing, seriously fantastic - Richard Griffiths gives such a good performance and one of the best I've seen on screen in a long time. The humour was right up my street and the characters (Withnail in particular) were worryingly relatable.

The writing was great and I eventually want to write something like this myself. Also, how are you? I hope you are well, do you still play squash? Do you drink squash while playing squash? Is the sport squash just product placement for orange squash? I don't know. I think it's time that you try a proper sport, like rugby. Let's be honest: if ageing, balding men can't get drunk watching it then it isn't a real sport.

I hope you have a good summer or, in the extremely likely situation that you don't check your emails until September, I hope you've had a good summer playing squash and getting drunk at train stations as well as going to your slightly pretentious music festivals and watching box sets one after the other, day by day passing by, never opening your curtains.

Well, anyway, best wishes.

From the charismatic king who is the envy of Oscar Wilde, George

My response, some weeks later:

Georgie porgy,

I apologise for my belated reply but you will appreciate it takes some considerable time to wade through the adoring fan mail I constantly receive from similarly inspired students. And this doesn't even take into consideration the rather time-consuming practice of introducing my own beatnik films to baying crowds on the indie festival scene (I said no to Cannes, of course), nor the demands of petty, bourgeois festivals with hay-bale-throwing competitions and Guardian readers doing farmer impersonations.

So, anyway, I did actually read your earlier missive but instead of replying I posted it on my middle-aged equivalent of social media, the "balding beard book", and you will be happy to hear you were something of a viral sensation: 30 likes and the same comments, which is impressive since I have only 60 friends and half of them can't log in yet. It was made all the better by the fact that we were attending some such festival at the time . …

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