Having strong feelings towards an inspirational teacher is very normal but don’t confuse it for romantic passion, says Mariella Frostrup
The dilemma I’m a 16-year-old student harbouring ardent feelings for a teacher. She’s an absolutely wonderful (in my view, angelic) human being, who seems utterly devoted to what she does and is terribly cordial to us students. It is out of awe for her personality, and gratitude for how she’s made a mark in my life, that I feel so attached to her. She’s in her late 20s, I suppose, but I feel she could be 18. My feelings are not sexual, but my social circles make barely any room for this possibility. I can find little solace in my friends for fear that they’d mock me because she’s not considered a looker. I feel an urge to tell her how amazing and adored she is, but fear she’ll be threatened or affronted, or that she’ll feel pained for me and not know how to respond.
Mariella replies Let’s talk motivation, shall we? I certainly appreciate and recognise your finer feelings for this teacher. It’s easy to forget in adulthood what a dramatic and positive influence a good teacher can have when we’re young and impressionable, and what havoc a bad one can wreak. I’ll never forget Miss Needham in my village school in Kilmacanogue, rocking on her heels, pressed up against the storage heater while her students shivered at their desks in the cold prefabricated schoolroom, tapping the same rhythm she rocked to with the bamboo switch in her hand. The only useful thing I recall learning that year was how to avoid her attention and, by default, a caning.