Volume 10, Issue 12
For some of us, this is our last week of classes at MLS. For most of those students, it is our last week of classes full stop. Ever. Or at least until we start our PLT. It’s the end of an era, the completion of decades of education and hard work. And I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling a little nostalgic.
Education has consumed roughly a quarter of my projected life span. That’s about 80% of my life thus far. I don’t really remember a time before the cycle of terms, semesters, holidays and homework. Moving on to the world of employment is going to be a big step.
But we’re going to be working for the rest of our lives (seriously – at this rate, the retirement age will be 95 before we get there), so I want to pause for a moment to reflect on these years that will shortly be behind us. So please excuse me as I take a jaunt down memory lane.
Education is a formative experience. It shapes who we are, what we achieve. I would not be who I am or where I am without the influences and experiences of my education. And there has been no greater influence than my teachers. A good teacher can instil a love of learning, or an affinity with a particular discipline. A great teacher can shape your future.
I had a particularly brilliant teacher in Year 4. We called him S’Carter because his first name was Stephen, he liked apostrophes and was just too cool to go by ‘Mr Carter’. He was the single most influential teacher I ever had. I credit him with teaching me how to write – and I don’t mean how to spell or form letters. He taught me how to construct sentences, to turn words into imagery and adjectives into a verbal illustration. I still draw on his lessons when I’m writing today, and I have no doubt that I’ll be turning to them again in the years to come.
The impact of a great teacher cannot be overstated. Research has shown that they are the most important school-related factor in student achievement and a 2011 Harvard study found that a single great teacher could influence a student’s university outcomes and lifetime income. I have no doubt about the impact my year in S’Carter’s class had on me. I was inspired and emboldened – he gave me confidence in my abilities and I have ridden that wave all the way here.
It’s easy to forget there was once a time before we entered 185 Pelham Street. Law school has been so all consuming that it sometimes obscures the journey we took to come here. And now, after all the stresses and achievements, it’s time to leave. For those of us that will walk across the stage at Wilson Hall this December, it’s a rocky landscape that we see in our rear-view mirror. There have been peaks and troughs, marvellous highs and gut-wrenching lows. For once, we are looking ahead to a future without timetables and class schedules.
We didn’t do this alone. We had friends, we had family and, of course, teachers. So cheers to them. Thank you for the help in getting here. Thank you for propelling us forward. It’s been a hell of a ride so far and I, for one, can’t wait to see what comes next.
Katharine Kilroy is a third-year JD student
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