Did anyone else's education involve being told they weren't special as much as mine did?
Occasionally I'm amazed when I suddenly remember stuff from my past, like that I once shared a house with 11 non-relatives, or that I snorted cocaine and lint with a straw from the pocket of my boss's Hannibal Lecter costume. Usually it's weird stuff that I did in my early 20s, but today I find myself amazed by a couple of contrary suburban educational experiences.*
Firstly, our teachers would continually tell us that we weren't special. This was non-specialness in the sense of a universal requirement to obey orders, but they used to say it with great vehemence, bitter sneering and corner of the mouth saliva flecking.
I also remembered that I, like so many people in movies, had an English teacher who believed I was special, and communicated this in a way that I have always been able to keep inside me like a precious metal coating on my vulnerable internal jellies. Unlike when this happened in movies, though, my relationship with her was limited mostly to typical teacher-student encounters and didn't result in a lifelong friendship, or me overcoming any immediate challenges in the Pennant Hills ghetto. But anyhow, it is amazing to me both that teachers can tell children how unspecial they are in such hateful ways, and that other teachers can continue to find specialness in a never ending stream of suburban children with poor social skills and spotty complexions.
Unfortunately, I found out a couple of years ago that this teacher died of cancer. I would have liked to meet with her now. Not to tell her that because of her, I became a great author, or that without her, I'd be in prison right now, but just to continue the relationship, and to tell her how special she is. She used to pick a line from Shakespeare for each of her year 12 students that represented them to her, and present it to them at the last class.
* This sudden remembering stuff is happening a lot lately. Since my earlier post on prior relationships, I remembered several other incidents that didn't fit into the categories mentioned but that I'm not going to go into as they would seem weird or perverse out of context but definitely weren't. At the time.