I was chatting to my mum on the phone and she posed the question:
“Do you think your love of Geography had anything to do with your first Geography teacher at secondary school, Miss Kavanagh?”
Well, that took me right back to my first year in ‘big school’ and my class, 1K, the K denoting Kavanagh as the Geography teacher was also my form tutor.
How to describe this woman? Pretty much a carbon copy of Barbara Cartland – rather ancient with vivid red lippy which was never expertly applied. Her bouffant pink/orange hair never moved: I remember one girl sharpened her pencil over the top of her head during registration one day and Miss Kavanagh left the room oblivious to the decorative shavings. She had a shuffling gait: poor woman was probably suffering from early Parkinsons or something similar, but as young girls we just thought she was inordinately slow, always arriving in the classroom a good ten minutes after the bell had sounded and leaving early to make her way to the next class.
As for Geography, her method was to play ‘The Geography Game’ every Friday afternoon. She would choose a letter and we all had to think of a country, county, city, river, mountain and animal beginning with that letter. Any girl who wrote down a correct answer which was different to everyone else’s would win a prize – 20p. That’s right, she doled out money, often a great deal of it, delving into her little red purse for the shiny coins.
If you had any savvy you would swot up on lesser-known examples, hoping to win the jackpot if you could slip in ‘Ouagadougou’. We used to have many arguments with Miss K, as, understandably, she had often never heard of many of the places we had unearthed. I remember my friend Colette was furious when Miss Kavanagh called her a ‘stupid girl’ and refused to pay up for ‘Dingo’ as an animal. Of course we were also adept at fibbing, shouting out spurious answers and swearing blind we’d climbed it just the other week.
Towards Easter term Miss Kavanagh announced to the class that the Headmistress would no longer allow her to play ‘The Geography Game’. She was most upset and so were we, as we’d been used to spending our winnings on flying saucers and sherbert dibdabs at the corner shop. She could not understand why she had been chastised but she accepted the decision and said that in place of ‘The Geography Game’ we were to have a weekly ‘Geography Quiz’ instead. Prize money up to 50p!
If that’s got you thinking about your own favourite or most memorable teacher then get posting and link back here.