Friday, 26 February 2010

Kicked in the teeth, and she'd never liked Fingal's Cave

I must have irritated my piano teacher quite a bit, now I look back on her curious last words to me. Let me go back a bit. I was desperate to learn the piano, and spent two years in complete terror, taking the bus into King's Norton, Birmingham, placing the florin silently at the end of the teacher's piano [we never discussed money. I just left it there, and she left it there till I left her house]. I guess she terrorised me into practising at home, because I did get quite good. At first.

When we moved to Leeds, Mrs M in Oakwood was quite a different matter, and my progress was very very slow. In an attempt to get me to practise between lessons, she, after what must have some years of mutual boredom, asked me what I liked. I adored "Fingal's Cave", so she got me this brilliant piano version of it. Also, and doesn't every child, I asked for "Fur Elise". She must have listened to me play these songs, and quite badly for well over two years, but I was quite enjoying them, and felt a bit of success here.

However her lessons were no more interesting. Apart from these two tunes and a Grade Two version of Skye Boat Song, I never practised, and I begged my mother to let me give up so that I could revise for O levels [revise! Who was I kidding!]. Mrs M's last words to me were that she had never liked "Fingal's Cave" or "Fur Elise". I was taken aback, I felt kicked in the teeth. And I was shocked. It wasn't up to her to like or dislike things. She was old and a teacher, but still suddenly, I felt all that I had done counted for nothing.

Well, let me introduce you to the feelings of Year 11, City of Leeds and Primrose. They have just been told that all they have done or learnt for the past 5, 4, 3, 2, or 1 year [depending on what year they entered the country] counts for nothing. Their teachers are rubbish; the school is rubbish; the behaviour is rubbish; all over Leeds children are achieving and behaving; the grass is so much greener everywhere else that it blinds you. And if another school fails its Ofsted, Eddie Leo is "convinced they can recover"; if City of Leeds School wins the Education Leeds attendance challenge, it's still "not good enough".

Year 11 have been kicked in the teeth, at the exact point that they should be concentrating on gearing themselves up for their exams. A cynic would wonder if this wasn't exactly the intention, but I can't think that anyone would be so cruel.

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