Attention, class. We're going to do something different this morning, instead of an A-list and B-list there are going to be two shorter A-lists of eight songs each, one about how to do things right, the other about doing things wrong...
Jo Stafford - Teach Me Tonight
I said, "I didn’t know I could do that," Ms R coyly whispered, "You can learn something new every day."
Freddy Cannon - Abigail Beecher
Handsome Mr K knows the value of hard work, supporting each other and making learning fun. If he was as good a musician as he is a teacher, he would be the rock star he dreams of being one.
Lulu - To Sir, with Love
Miss Waters didn’t just teach me English, she taught me that I could be different and have a place in the world. I lived for her classes and insight.
Chuck & Dobby - I Love My Teacher
Mr Brink was an idealist and taught politics with a fiery passion, inspiring me to see the complexity of the world. He was also sensitive and easy to tease; Duncan Tory would lead other students in sidetracking him into frustrating political debate by adopting ‘common sense’ and ‘black and white’ views of the world. His mental health deteriorated because he cared too much and some students were pitiless trolls.
The Rolling Stones - Sweet Black Angel
Miss P was a political activist. She wanted to change the world but found violent protest self-defeating. Inspired by Gandhi, she studied hard and went on to become a professor and tutor others. Now she lectures on the freedom of speech.
Mungo's Hi Fi ft. Solo Banton - Dancehall School
Clarkey was great. He built our knowledge bit by bit and made the intricate simple – he enjoyed teaching. He knew when to criticise, when to focus our minds and when to have fun. He reconstructed our thoughts and sharpened our blunt minds then said, "Do any of you lot fancy a swift half in the Thatched?"
DJ Shadow - Building Steam with a Grain of Salt
Ms Billington was precise, engaging and challenging. “I’ll never stop learning. That’s why I am a teacher.” Still influencing my life for the better, her lessons on gender studies led me to meeting a wonderful woman in March of this year.
Tom Furse - The Ocean Is Teacher
What I really wanted to do was sink below the surface but the sea held me up, asked questions of me, gave me new perspectives, gave me time to work out the answers and guided me back to shore.
Dexys Midnight Runners - All in all (This One Last Wild Waltz)
I met Mr Downs some years later. He sneered at my ripped jeans and introduced me to his colleague as a pupil whose appearance and academic performance matched. I smiled condescendingly, "I’m off to university in the States tomorrow. I’ll buy some new keks when I get there. You were never inspiring."
Malú - Aprendiz
I watched a person I love become callous and selfish under the tutelage of a “businessman”. "Lesson one," said the businessman. "Look after numero uno." He did and he broke what was left of her heart.
Pink Floyd - Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2
Malevolent Mr Nutter taught Religious Education. Covering for our regular teacher. He seethed at being denied his pipe and tobacco and violently enforced his authority by striking the knuckles of two students with his ruler. Horrified, we fell silent. Their fault was being poor and unable to afford a regular school uniform. The morning’s assembly had been about forgiveness, mercy and helping those less fortunate.
Black Box Recorder - School Song
We made too much noise, so Miss Dish picked on the smallest, shyest boy. She scorned my dandyish looks and contemptuously flicked my Julian Cope hair. "Why would you want to look like that?’ I thought for a few seconds gathered myself and stated, ‘Because it’s fashionable." Her hand stopped one centimetre from cuffing me round the ear. I hated her.
The Chameleons - Up the Down Escalator
I told Barnsey I wouldn’t let him give me the pump just because I forgot my football boots. He told me to write an essay about corporal punishment. I wrote about a teacher getting caned by students for forgetting the P.E. equipment. He laughed about it but the teacher refused to be taught and punished poor Flinty the next day. Barnsey went on to teach in a borstal, probably taught CSE in bullying, violence and humiliation.
Wide Boy Awake - Slang Teacher
Mr Ericson, with your abbreviations, acronyms and jargon, I never understood a fucking word you said. No wonder you were sacked.
Fun Boy Three - Well Fancy That
Mr Pickles liked to wield a cane and lecture on virtue. He also groomed girls and gave them ‘tennis lessons’. The whole teaching staff knew of his paedophilia for two years and none of them said anything. The mother of his last victim had him arrested. Pickles, fuck you and your pious talk about morals, being a credit to society and representing the community.
Fela Kuti - Teacher Don't Teach Me Nonsense
Mr Brown said, "It did me no harm." He repeated and taught the same inadequacies, errors and falsehoods he had learned, always scapegoating the weaker pupils. He didn’t want us getting ideas above his idea of our station. In 1979, he told us, "I won’t vote for a woman or a socialist. It’s the Liberals or NF for me." I had seen my mother tell an NF member to "wipe his arse" with the leaflet he posted through our door, "don’t do the bully boys’ work". I realised: some teachers lack wisdom, some poorly educated people have it.
Now then, here's your homework. Listen to each playlist carefully, enjoy, and write a sentence about them in comments below. Class dismissed!
These playlists were inspired by readers' song nominations from last week's topic Share: songs about teachers. The next topic will launch on Thursday at 1pm UK time.
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Fancy a turn behind the pumps at The Song Bar? Care to choose a playlist from songs nominated and write something about it? Then feel free to contact The Song Bar here, or try the usual email address.