Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Mr Wallace - An Inspiring Teacher

I had some wonderful teachers and one of the best was Mr Wallace. Thanks to him my last year at primary school was probably the happiest of my school life and during my time in his class I actually looked forward to going to school.

Considering I had on occasion been dragged into school kicking and screaming, that’s saying something.

As a third year at primary school, I went on a camping trip to a dew soaked field in Danbury in Essex.

While there, we were introduced to Mr Wallace during a sing-song round the camp fire.

He was lovely – fun, funny, bearded (I’ve always liked men with beards) and as far as I recall he used to wear a lot of brown – brown trousers, brown check jackets. We were told at camp that year that he would be joining our school in the September and I was going to be in his class. Yay!

He had a large box full of pictures at the front of the class. We’d pick one out and write a story about it. He also had a box full of things to do – you’d stick in your hand and pull out a plum. One of my plums was to find out what I could about Socrates and write about him. Daft the things you remember isn’t it?

He used to encourage us to bring music in – I brought my mum’s Scheherazade LP in - and he’d play the music while we wrote whatever came into our minds. He was a great encourager of imagination and he had a wicked sense of humour.

Remembering him has reminded me about using music for inspiration. Try it. Close your eyes and let your imagination soar.


  1. Good teachers are so important. I always remember my last primary school teacher, Mr Arnold. He taught us anything and everything and was always totally fascinating.

  2. Ooo I had terrible teachers in primary school. One made me "walk properly" when I had in fact broken my foot during the course of the day. I don't think my mother was too impressed when I got home... Ah the good times :P

    I've started using music for inspiration too (great minds... ;) )

  3. Teachers of that calibre were not the norm when I was at school, but there were a couple that made an impact on me.

    And you're so right about music being an inspiration. Whenever a piece of classical music was played on the radio, my mum used to encourage me to close my eyes and tell her what I could see. I did the same for our daughter. Magical.

  4. Miss Tipper, Mrs Duignan, Mr Hymas. All from my junior school. They encouraged me to write, to have dreams and then I went to Grammar and it was all downhill from there. For four years I kept a calender and ticked off the days as if I was doing time.
    My daughter had a teacher who told the kids he came over with William the Conqueror. He taught them history from his own stories of what it was like to be there.

  5. A good teacher can make such a difference. I still remember the ones who made lessons fun - and it was so much easier to learn in those classes.


  6. It's funny Helen, but those last year at primary school teachers always seem so good. Maybe its compared to what came next!

    Ouch Lacey! That's awful. I had one that got angry with me because I couldn't climb a rope and I should as my father was a sailor!

    It's a lovely thing to do isn't it, Martin.

    Lynne, it went downhill for me at secondary school - failed the 11 plus and was treated like a failure from then on. Hated every minute of it and I can still remember sitting staring at the clocks and wishing they'd move faster. I did have a few good teachers there though.
    The teacher that came over with W the C sounds great!!

    So right, Suzanne - if learning is fun, it is so much easier.

  7. Ah Mr Muldowney was my hero. I was told by his daughter that he died a few years back. So sad as he was a belter of a teacher and the first man to believe in me and say so. Good teacher's are worth their weight in gold.

  8. My handwriting was bad when I was in secondary school. One day the teacher put the whole class's exercise books in front of me and told me to go through them one by one and look at their writing whilst they all watched. I wonder if they would get away wityh such psychological cruelty nowadays? And my handwriting is still bad.

  9. Yes MOB, the good ones are worth their weight in gold. I shan't say what I think the bad ones should be weighed in!

    That is shocking, Marian. What a dreadful and cruel thing to do. It must have been a horrible experience.

  10. Until a year ago I worked in a primary school.
    Many of the teachers I worked with had great ideas for encouraging kids to use all their senses.
    One regularly used music to help them to create characters. She'd have a picture of a fairly nondescript person on the whiteboard and then play different pieces of music to the children, before asking them to describe the character. Their descriptions would change with the music.
    Another trick of hers was to have little paper carrier bags with characters, setting, problem, etc. She'd do it as a whole class activity and get the children acting out as if they were in the story to engage all their senses.
    I miss those times. Great fun.

  11. Teachers like that are worth their weight in gold aren't they, Sue. Must have been fun for you as well as the kids!