We all have a favourite teacher, don't we? Look back. Remember that teacher who believed in you, when everyone else wrote you off as hopeless? Remember that teacher who went the extra mile with you? Remember that teacher who wrote on your report, "I have enjoyed having (insert your name here) in my class this year"?
Yes – we all have that teacher who was – special.
I was lucky, I can name half a dozen or more (and I may blog about them in subsequent posts), but today I want to talk about Mrs Brougham, my music teacher.
I grew up in the 1970s. Outside London and California, the 1970s was not a decade in which to be "different." Mrs Brougham and her music room provided a sanctuary for the "different".
Mrs Brougham unashamedly had favourites. If you were one of her "favourites" (and you didn't necessarily have to be good at music to qualify) then you could go to the music room in breaks and at lunch time and be assured of a sanctuary. A sanctuary from teasing, from bullying, from the constant pressure to conform, to be like the rest, to march to the beat of the communal drum.
At lunch time we would congregate, the boys and girls who would be gay (once we understood what to be gay was – at the time it was just being "different"), the terminally introverted (we didn't play well with others), the depressed, the bi-polar (we had delusions of grandeur), the shy, the dispossessed... We all had a place in the Music Room.
Even once we had moved onto the senior school (age 14-18 and 500 metres away across the no-man's land of the hockey pitches) we still had a place of sanctuary should we need it. Oh, and I did need it, frequently!
Yet, at the time, I didn't quite appreciate it, and I certainly didn't appreciate what it must have cost Mrs Brougham to keep her room as that sanctuary. I now understand the fights she must have had in the staff room, the times she must have gone head to head with our head master (a conformist, albeit a rebel conformist, if ever there was one). Thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you, Mrs Brougham.
You taught me that it was okay to be different; that it was okay for others to be different. It meant that when I understood what it was to be gay I said, "Oh, yeah, now I understand," as opposed to, "Yeuk, that's disgusting!"
You taught me how to give others space to be different without compromising my own space. I honour you for that. Where ever you are now.
And I hope that each one of you Moodscope readers has that special someone in your life who accepts you (and others) just as you are, depressive, bi-polar, schizophrenic, alternative sexuality, ethnicity... Just. As. You. Are.
Because we all need and deserve that acceptance.
A Moodscope member.