The things I learnt then have stayed firmly in my brain ever since, while most of the stuff I was taught later evaporated like mist
I BELIEVE good teachers are the heroes of the human race. They deserve to be paid far more than doctors or lawyers, politicians or architects, because without good teachers nobody could ever end up as doctors, lawyers or architects. Well, maybe politicians possibly, but I’m talking about real professions here.
My first teacher – I must have been six years old at the time – was the wife of one of our neighbours who converted an old rondavel on her farm into a classroom and started what would probably now be called a Grade R school. I travelled the 20km to school every Sunday evening and returned in the railway bus on Friday afternoons.
The “Hughdale Mixed School” had an enrolment of two pupils: teacher’s daughter Anne and myself. We learnt the important basics of all education – reading, writing and arithmetic – and in addition we were taught nature study, drawing and poetry.
The things I learnt then have stayed firmly in my brain ever since, while most of the stuff I was taught later evaporated like mist.
Our teacher was a wonderful woman, or should I say she was two wonderful. All adults were called “Aunt” or “Uncle” in our farming community, and she was Aunt Marie. She was also “Teacher”.
Every morning after Aunt Marie had given us our breakfast we would get ready for school. A few minutes later, Teacher would appear in the schoolroom door ringing her bell and we would race off for the day’s lessons.
At the end of the morning we were let out of class for lunch. Aunt Marie would sit us down at table and we’d tell her all the amazing stuff we had learnt from Teacher that morning.
“Teacher told us that insects have six legs and lots of eyes so they can see all round. And we learnt what a rectangle is. And we learnt a poem called Green Glass Goblin, and ” When I graduated and was sent to boarding school, my sister and Anne’s brother became the next generation of HMS pupils.
Far away from home and the quiet comfort of the Karoo, I learnt about geometry and Latin, algebra and history, I was introduced to Shakespeare and the rules of cricket and rugby, but I never forgot the fascinating basic things I had learnt at Hughdale Mixed School.
Some of my teachers left little imprint on me, but there are many whose voices I will always hear.
Both my children have graduated and become teachers, and I like to think their voices will echo down the years, guiding future generations just as Teacher and Aunt Marie have guided me.
The day before her wedding, the young bride came to her mother and said: “Mom, I want you to teach me how to make a man happy.”
“Well,” said her mother, “when two people are in love, they want to be close to each other and touch and kiss ”
“Oh, Mom,” her daughter interrupted, “I know how to make love. I want you to teach me how to make lasagne.”