Dear Class of 2012


I failed you. And I am deeply sorry.

None of you took away any more from my class than a mark on your report. And for most of you even that was disappointing. Looking back on the year we spent together, I realise what an ordeal it must have been for you: getting nothing from me but an explanation of what was in your syllabus.

You will not look back in ten or twenty years from now and remember your Geography lessons. You will not remember how your confidence in yourselves was nurtured. You will not remember how you learnt to overcome your own self-imposed limitations. You will not remember how you were motivated to go out and conquer the world… or at least to make some small change for the good. You will not remember these things because they did not happen. I did not allow them to happen.

I desperately hope that you got these lessons from another teacher. You did not get them from me. I can only express my remorse and try to make it right with the class of 2013… and every single one of those that follow.

I could quite reasonably stitch together a patchwork of excuses and blame everyone else but myself. Other kind people are doing that for me. And I had very many incredible successes with my other classes… But I will not shift the blame. And the reason I cannot do so is simple: I was a mediocre teacher to you, the class of 2012. You know I tried hard. But it was not enough.

I was mediocre.

I did not try to relate to you as young people, each with your own very personal struggles. I did not reach out to you and try to enthuse you as individuals. I did not defy you to improve, to conquer challenges, to assert yourselves, to think innovatively, and to discover within yourselves that one special thing that will make you exceptional.

I have taken this all very personally. But I have to try and turn it into something positive. I do not aim to forget what I did to you, but I do want to channel our experience in 2012 and use it to inspire me to make it better for the young minds who find themselves in my class now and in the future.

Another year like yours and my conscience will drive me to tender my resignation. I don’t think I could bear letting another class down so badly.

I hope your lives turn out to be everything you want them to be. I hope you forget me and my class. But please know that I will not forget you. As distraught as I am to have missed the opportunity to embolden your spirits, inspire you to dream, and to expand your minds, I am compelled by this failure to make it better for those who follow you.

Go well, class of 2012. May all of your dreams come true. May you conquer every challenge life throws your way. May you find contentment and fulfilment. May you shine a light for others in a way that I failed to do for you.

I will think of you often.

My sincerest kind wishes.

Mr H

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4 Responses to Dear Class of 2012

  1. Nikki Heyman says:

    Dear Sean I agree with Trish!
    Apart from the ” poison poeffies” which are clearly clouding your judgement, the ability to recognize your own weaknesses ( and we all have them) is a skill and a strength that not everyone has. We are all human. We all make bad decisions and judgements but we are not all equipped to recognize and rectify them. Clearly from the above comments, you have the insight and wisdom to make a difference and the ability to rectify the wrongs.

  2. Trishpp says:

    Dear Sean, I am gob-smacked reading this post at 5.30am. I don’t know you personally and I don’t even know where you teach.

    What I do know is that you must have been in a terrible place when you wrote this post and now that you have written it I suggest you remove it. You have allowed the “poison poeffies” (http://www.ladd.co.za/index.php/29-blog-main/randomly-ruminating/260-are-poisson-poeffies-controlling-your-mind.html) in your mind run away with you.

    You may have made mistakes, we all do, but you are human. In the short time that I have been following you on Twitter I have been given some really great insights into what makes a great and passionate teacher. I have shared each of your posts with many of my friends in the field of education. At my ripe old age I have learned some critical thinking skills from you.

    Surprise, surprise you can’t be 100% at everything. So it is time to cut the proverbial, leap out of your misery pit, delete this post and be the person you know you are.

    Have a wonderful day!

  3. Michael says:

    Dear Mr. HC,

    I can neither comment on nor can I pretend to know what happened in your class of 2012. Whatever it was and to whatever extent a teacher-pupil relationship runs both ways, I find it difficult to believe you are as responsible as is portrayed here.

    How much could have changed since the class of 2009? A class where I speak personally of a teacher who was inspirational: Not measured in the number of geography courses I took at university or by my final matric mark, but by another mark which will stay forever.

    That mark is from a teacher whose passion for his students transcended the subject. He taught (or as you so rightly say untaught) them to broaden their mind, think critically, challenge everything and understand. You took us seriously, seeing us as people and not as x factors in an averaging or pass-rate equation. This built confidence and self esteem.

    We got to university and realised nobody cared whether we could spell or remember the hydraulic cycle. That’s why you asked us not to measure the distance from a village to a river but from a community to its water supply. We realised that the skills you imparted are the only ones which matter. The only ones that count as a real education.

    Perhaps your former students are at fault too. We were all too ready to complain when our lives were sheltered and the worst thing to happen was a test clashing with a debating tournament. And when we hastily disappeared off school campus and out of Johannesburg we didn’t look back to say “thanks dude, you made a real difference.”

  4. Nam-Hwui Kim says:

    Even though I wasn’t in your geography class, I still know that you are one of the greatest teachers I’ve met thus far (and will remain as the greatest in the future). I’m more than sure your class will remember you as a great inspiration! I mean, you’ve changed me so much when I wasn’t even in your class! So, believe me, captain: you’ve rocked, you rock, and you will always rock.

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