Tuesday, 26 March 2013

A Brick in The Wall

When Pink Floyd brought out their single "Another Brick in the Wall" in 1979, I had been teaching English in a comprehensive school near Southampton for three years. Anyone who had known me as a student in my grammar school in the Rhondda, would have been puzzled at my carreer choice. During my time in that institution, my behaviour was considered outrageously rebellious and I spent many lessons outside the classroom door in the long, dark corridor. I hated the mind numbing conformity and the unsympathetic attitudes to anyone or anything out of the norm.To be fair, there were one or two teachers there who were inspirational  and supportive of difference. But not nearly enough. Sadly I found this to be true throughout what became a 25 year teaching career.

So it never really surprised me that I would sing as loudly as anyone else -

"We don't need no education.
We don't need no thought control.
No dark sarcasm in the classroom.
Teacher leave them kids alone"

The precept primum non nocere or non-maleficence is one of the principal precepts of medical ethics. It is invoked when debating the use of an intervention that carries an obvious risk of harm but a less certain chance of benefit. To put my own spin on this, I like to think that as a teacher I "did the least harm" and hopefully did quite some good most of the time. Institutions rarely bring out the best in anyone - I suspect many of us are survivors of an education system that forced us to attend and then punished us for being present, in the real sense of the word.

I would like to thank Andrew,who contacted me today to say he enjoyed my blog. Andrew, now a writer, is a former student  of mine at that first school I taught in. He inspired me to write today as, he said, I had once inspired him. My huge relief is that neither of us were or ever will be bricks in the wall.



  1. What a testament to your soul and spirit having Andrew contact you. I sometimes think of the people I have touched or who have touched me. The list is so long..those who made "THE difference". Beautifully said. One of my favourite pieces of music I might add.

    Also ...at the bottom of blog post is You might also like "Live in the Layers". I kept wondering what blog inspired me to buy this book. It was so life affirming and I treasure it, truly treasure it. Thank you.

  2. Thank you for your comment. Glad you liked the book!

    I saw Pink Floyd perform in Cardiff when I was 14. "Dark Side of the Moon" is still one of my favourite albums.