Tuesday, 24 September 2013

To Teach Greatness: College Edition

Image my own.
We all have our motivators. We all remember the people who made us into who we are, who taught us how to work. For me, my motivation and inspiration goes back a few years. Seven years to be exact, to the day I started my A Levels. Some people come across their favourite teachers in school, or later on in university. I found mine somewhere in the middle.

Terry was my A Level Media Studies lecturer for two years, and also my English lecturer during the second year. He had an unrivaled ability to make you respect, fear and love him all at once. He was inspirational because he wasn't aware of it. He wasn't pompous or over invested in his own skills. He was honest, respectful and possessed that dry humour that couldn't be found in any other classroom. Hands up if you remember the M&S advert with "not just ripe, juicy plums, M&S juicy plums". No one ever wanted to disappoint him. He brought greatness out of us.


To those of us who sat through his lectures, we remember dominant ideologies and genre conventions. We know the difference between hegemony and polysemy. We watched film noirs. We decoded The Sopranos opening sequence before we ever owned the boxset. We know what video nasties are and we know Miley Cyrus is probably being used as a tool for a twerking moral panic right now. We know when we consume media texts, we are being used or gratified. We say the word "essentially" a lot. Also, "juxtaposition". I love myself some juxtaposition.

My education was not a misty montage consisting of me falling asleep with my head on a towering pile of books - it was hard work, ambition and spilled coffee. It wasn't always a pretty thing. I remember in my second year, we had a mature student. She was intelligent, and as eager as I was. This did not please me. But the competition became part of my make up, a daily routine that I needed to get by.

In my university references, he backed up my claim that Media Studies was "my thing". I also read my first Margaret Atwood because of him, watched all three Godfather movies, and I resat one exam because it was just below an A grade. I wanted to be the best, so that is what I became.

Then I went to University. A hundred people in my lectures who all thought they were the best, were now equals on even playing ground. I still think I had the upper hand the whole time I was there because before the university edition of myself there was the prequel, the college edition. That part of me was the one moulded by a teacher, and that part of me still exists.

Before graduating there was the daunting task of writing my dissertation. The last thing to write for it was my acknowledgements page. I thanked my parents, my grandparents, Starbucks for keeping me awake, and I thanked Terry. Because if it wasn't for the two years I spent being taught by him and loving the entire process of learning and being unable to quench the thirst for more knowledge, more wisdom, and more greatness, then I probably wouldn't have gone to study my degree at all.

Terry was probably the only lecturer who didn't care that I always turned up to lectures armed with cups of tea and Milky Bars. For that, I was grateful. In the years since finishing my A Levels at Pembrokeshire College, I came across students of his, and his ability to conjure ambition and persistence in his students is what we were all most grateful for.

So two years before Swansea University, where I perfected my skills and delineated my dreams - There was the Class of 2008 and Pembrokeshire College, the place that built me.

If you could see me now.. Well if you could, would you guide me a little?