A while back I found a file with all my old high school reports – which, apart from their wonderfully silly judgements of my nature – reminded me of the adventures I had in high school English.
In the first term of my sixth form year at Napier’s Tamatea High School I had a great English teacher who got me inspired to push ahead in a field I’d been keen on, alongside the sciences, since I was a kid. (I won’t say exactly when this was, other than that the ‘word’ that year was ‘Grease‘.) The class got stuck into Shakespeare with a great deal of verve, I enjoyed it, and the report shows it.
After the term break I found I had a new English teacher. Alas, it appeared I had also suffered a total character transformation during the two-week break because, suddenly, I was wrong at every turn. The new teacher informed my parents that I would always fail at everything, especially anything to do with English or writing. Yup, I was totally worthless, and it was wholly my fault. The weird thing was that I hadn’t changed a single thing about what I was doing, and my magic character transformation only affected my English classes. A mystery. I mean, it couldn’t possibly have been the teacher, could it?
I was still keen to learn English and writing, of course, so my parents sent me to after-school English and writing courses at the local polytechnic. This happened against the direct objections of the headmaster, who actively tried to obstruct the effort. That didn’t work. What’s more, at the polytech I magically became the same enthusiast for English I had been in that first term. Yup, now my weird transformation in which I went from zero to hero and back again, all without changing a single thing about what I was doing, was happening in minutes, over and back again, and once again the only difference was the teacher.
I venture to suggest that a publications list since that includes nearly 60 books, over 500 articles, academic papers, and other stuff including international academic recognition of my writing might give the lie to my Tamatea High School report. But, of course, if Tamatea High School’s English teacher said I was utterly worthless and would fail at every turn – well, obviously I was utterly worthless, and how dare I suggest otherwise? On the plus side, I got tertiary-level education in writing, before I left high school. I enjoyed the polytech classes a lot (one report stated ‘Matthew Wright well’, which I didn’t ‘get’ for ages). I took that further with the polytech in a gap year before I left Napier for university. What this did was set me up with all the frameworks needed to be a writer. And I did it in spite of Tamatea High School, its obstructive headmaster and the witless incompetents he chose to employ, not because of that school. Sigh.
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2018