A thank you to my teachers

Today Australia celebrates World Teachers’ Day, so I thought I’d take a moment to say thank you. Thank you to each and every teacher I’ve had, from official to informal, from primary school to university and beyond. You have all had a huge influence upon my life and the person who I have become. Even those of  you I disliked or found boring managed to teach me something of value. But there are a few exceptional teachers I need to single out…

My parents.
Because parents are a child’s first teachers and they have such a profound impact. So, thank you to my parents for teaching me that I could do anything I wanted to do with my life and that I could be the person I wanted to be. Thank you for teaching me that love is unconditional and that I would be loved no matter what. I hope that I can do as well with my children.

Mrs Lord, who taught at St Patrick’s Primary School.
I was the only non-Catholic in my year level and sometimes felt like I was the only one in the school. I often felt lonely and different and left out. Thank you, Mrs Lord, for teaching me that difference and diversity are not only okay, but are to be celebrated. My world view started in your classroom.

Mr Rod Hardy, who taught English at Mentone Grammar School.
Thank you for making English fun! That was such an important step in my learning process. I never would have guessed, as a kid, that all those games and quizzes were teaching me things.

Mrs Fox, who was the junior teacher-librarian at Mentone Grammar School.
Thank you for introducing me to the books of Robert A Heinlein and Lee Harding. I still read them.

Mr Everingham-Hansen, who taught English at Mentone Grammar School.
Thank you for encouraging my fiction writing. It was in your class that I discovered how much I loved to make stuff up. It was in your class that I first set foot on the path to a writing career. I still remember you praising my imagination and telling me I had a future in writing. Thank you also for actually running the cross-country training session with the ‘reject cross-country team’, rather than merely sitting at checkpoints as other teachers did. You were the only teacher to ever do this during my years there and it taught me the importance of participation.

Mr JS Klan, who taught History at Mentone Grammar.
Thank you for teaching me that History is so much more than a series of dates. In your class I learned that there were ordinary people, just like me, behind every significant date and historical event. You encouraged discussion and debate, and allowed your students to have a point of view. It is because of you that I went on to the study History at University.

Dr LL Robson, senior lecturer in Australian History at The University of Melbourne.
Thank you for making me realise that Australian History is not boring. I was enamored with European History and avoided Australia History like the plague until I took your course, “Australians at War” — not because I wanted to, but because I had to choose a subject from a limited number of options and yours seemed like it might be okay. It was better than okay. You brought history to life like no other lecturer ever had. It is because of you that I continued to study Australian History through my undergraduate years and eventually went on to complete a Master of Arts in Australian Studies. Several of your books sit proudly on the shelves of my home library.

All the teachers who taught me at The National Theatre Drama School.
Thank you for gently kicking me out of my comfort zone and pushing me to take risks. It was in these classes that I learned to trust myself. Without this I do not think I would have had the courage to chuck in my day job and give writing a go. And I certainly would not have had the skills to effectively communicate with young people through my now frequent school visits — public speaking is, after all, a type of performance.

To all the above teachers, and so many others — thank you, thank you, thank you! I am who I am, I am what I am, to a large extent, because of all you have taught me. Words are not enough.