33 days until departure
An open letter to a very influential teacher
Dear Very Influential Teacher,
You are one of only a few particularly wonderful teachers whom I have been fortunate enough to meet. In my last couple of years of school, two teachers (including you) helped me in ways that I would find difficult to enumerate. I’m still regularly in touch with the other teacher, but not so much with you, so I’m writing you this in the hope that when I share this blog with you, you’ll know how much you changed my outlook for the better. I want to publicly thank you for the insight, the experience and the kindness you brought to each pupil under your care. From guiding me through the subject that we both share in ways which must have taken up so much of your spare time, to listening to me break down from stress and anxiety, to crying happy tears with me when I succeeded, you revealed to me what it means to be a mentor. I hope that one day I too will be able to do the same for someone else. University life is very different to that of school, and I sometimes miss the feeling of individual worth which you and other teachers allowed to flourish within me. At Oxford, every overworked student becomes much the same to tutors who are overworked themselves. I have had kindness and understanding on a personal level from my Russian tutors at Oxford, possibly because they have fewer students, but no History tutor has taught me like you used to and I miss it. I don’t find the feedback that I get always helps me know what I need to improve – academic jargon is often too vague. Consistently in the area of a comfortable – albeit undistinguished – 2.1, I lack the self-knowledge to know what I should be doing differently, what would help me shine and differentiate myself. I do not feel close enough to my tutors to ask them to elaborate on their feedback, I feel that they are too busy and lack investment in me. I know that I would not be having this problem if you were teaching me now. However, I also know that this doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. For you, academic success was important, as it is to me, but it was not the be-all and end-all, just as it is not for me. I find that growing as a person, finding little ways to keep my spirits up, making connections with people in ways that I never had before are far more important than wearing a billowy scholars’ gown. I know that I would have gained the latter only at the expense of the former. I know that you recently left my old school yourself, and that you were unsure in which direction you would go. I hope that you have found, or will find, fulfilment, happiness and comfort. I know that I speak for many others when I say that you will be greatly missed, and that – without you – I would not be the person I am today.
With every possible fond memory and regard,
Rustle and Snow