Let’s Go Crazy… or how re-igniting a passion has made me re-think my attitude to teaching.

“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life. 

Electric word life. It means forever and that’s a mighty long time.

But I’m here to tell you, there’s something else…”

So begins the song ‘Let’s Go Crazy’ from Prince’s 1984 masterpiece, Purple Rain. But why am I starting a blog post, ostensibly about my experience as a teacher, with a quote from Prince?

I’m a Prince fan. Indulge me.

In February this year Prince came to the UK and began a series of ‘guerilla gigs’ in a tour called Hit n Run. It was term time. I was in Liverpool, he was in London. I was devastated, thinking I was not going to get a chance to see him.

The last time I’d seen him was in 2007 when he did his legendary residency at the O2 Arena in London. 21 Nights in London. Great show. (He’s awesome live. If you haven’t seen him, you should try to. I’m going to explicitly put that out there, though it will no doubt be implied throughout!) Seven years had passed and, although he’d toured in Europe during that time, life – work, finances etc – had somehow always got in the way.

Cut to 2014 and we now live in a social media world. I was fascinated by the #princewatch hashtag as people shared information and sparked rumours of his whereabouts. Gigs were announced with just hours’ notice. (Again, I rued the fact that a) I didn’t live in London any more and b) I had a sensible job!) A real sense of hype and drama was created. Prince was back in the news. People were discovering his musical talent and talking about it.

More importantly, through social media, I was suddenly in contact, virtually at least, with people who shared my passion. (Of course my non-Prince-fan friends and family had to vicariously suffer the agony as I waited to see if he’d leave the capital and come anywhere nearer. And when I say ‘waited’ I actually mean moaned incessantly!)

Finally, as he and his band, 3RDEYEGIRL, presented an award at the Brits ceremony, I got the news I’d been waiting for. Prince announced he’d be “heading up North so we want to see you in Manchester. We’re gonna rock it up there a l’il bit.” Simultaneously, a tweet announced the tickets were on sale.

I pounced. My hours on virtual #princewatch had paid off. I got a ticket for both nights at Manchester Academy.

If you’ve even got this far, you may still be wondered when even a tenuous link to teaching is going to appear. This is, in many ways, an even more self-indulgent post than normal. This is me in full-on fan girl mode.

I’d apologise, but actually full-on fan girl mode is what I want to talk about.

I went to Manchester for the gigs. (Thankfully it was half term.) I queued all day for the chance to be near the front. It rained. In fact, at one stage there were hailstones. Even in layers of thermal clothing, it was freezing.

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But the joy was palpable. I met people from all over the UK, from Paris, from the Netherlands, from Italy. We laughed. We shared our Prince stories. We marvelled at those whose fandom was extreme: hundreds of gigs, monthly Prince-fund, sleeping overnight outside the venue.

I felt like I was a teenager again. This was sheer, unadulterated pleasure. I forgot about the marking, the exam result pressure, the observations. I left vaguely sensible Head-of-Department-me at home and revelled in just doing something I love – watching live music – with a group of people who felt the same thing.

I won’t go into details about the gigs.*

Suffice to say, I had a blast. The hours of queuing paid off. I was front row. Front and centre in fact. Underneath the man’s microphone; about three foot away from him. Living the dream. I got to spend hours watching a genius at work. I sang along. I let myself get lost in the music. Everywhere I looked people were doing the same thing. The shared sense of awe and wonder was incredible.

And I did it all again the following day.

As I said, full-on fan girl mode.

I floated home on a purple cloud, the music still ringing in my ears. New friendships forged and memories to last a lifetime. My passion for Prince, if it ever really needed to be, was completely rekindled.

At some point in the following days, I realised that something had happened. And this, finally, is where I get to the teaching bit…

I was smiling. Lots. I couldn’t stop talking to people about how good the whole experience had been. I realised that I need to re-connect with the things that make me happy. I need to surround myself with people with shared interests and shared passions.

And I want to feel that about my teaching. 

I’ve made myself a promise to reconnect with the joy I felt when I first started teaching. I’m going to find my career passion again. I’m going to surround myself with positive people who feel the same way.

Because my students deserve that. They deserve the version of me who is focused and driven, not weighed down and cynical. I became a teacher because of my love of my subject and my desire to do something that meant something. I need to show that every day.

Seems odd to have had this sort of career-epiphany in the queue for a gig.

One of the friends I made as we queued told me that the Academy gigs had been life-changing. I agree with him, as hyperbolic as that might sound.

“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life. 

Electric word life. It means forever and that’s a mighty long time.

It is a long time.

Too long to not do the things you love. Too long to not find joy in your work. Too long to let things overwhelm you. Too long to be cynical.

So as I plan for next year, I’m planning to teach in full-on fan-girl mode.

“And if the elevator tries to bring you down
Go crazy punch a higher floor”

And to Richard, Jay, Simon, Keira, Dave, Ian, Emma, Farah, Shana, Sonia, Lucas, Dani and all the February crew: thank you for being a part of it all.

*Look them up: