Super Teacher Anthony O’Flynn ‘I say, don’t tell me what you can’t do, we’re going to go digging this year and find out what you can do.’

As heard on The Ryan Tubridy Show

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Every now and then, a teacher comes along and changes the way you see the world.  For many of the boys at St Joseph’s National School in Terenure, Anthony O’Flynn is that teacher.  He has previously spoken to Ryan Tubridy about the prize-winning film Hide and Seek that he made with his pupils and Ryan was curious as to what such an engaged and energetic teacher is doing with his students in the run-up to Christmas.  A lot, it seems.

Mr O’Flynn decided to introduce the boys to Dicken’s classic A Christmas Carol through the abridged version by Jesse Kornbluth.  Not content with simply reading the book, they contacted Jesse via Skype and found out all about his process of re-writing the famous story.  The boys were so taken with it that they read the original 26,000-word text and again, Mr Flynn went above and beyond, contacting the British Library in London to see if they could Skype the boys and show them the original manuscript.  The library didn’t have the manuscript as it was sold to one of Dicken’s creditors, who then sold it to JP Morgan, who died on the Titanic, and now the book belongs in his original Madison Avenue library and can be viewed online.  Not a bad day’s investigating for a primary school class.

Anthony says he’s inspired to go the extra mile by the energy, enthusiasm and creativity of his pupils.  He says,

“If I said to these guys tomorrow, guys we’re doing fire walking across hot coals, they would jump up and say no problem, sir, we’re with you.”

To help inspire them, Anthony has invited the likes of Gay Byrne, past pupil Danny O’Reilly and Brendan O’Carroll into class.  Anthony was particularly keen to have Brendan talk to the class about his dyslexia and serve as an inspiration for the boys who also share the condition.

“Stephen Spielberg was dyslexic, and Earnest Hemmingway.  I’ve a list on my desk…  I give it out to every boy on the first of September and it’s a list of all the dyslexic people in history, famous guys, who had trouble with this who went on to become super successful and I say, don’t tell me what you can’t do, we’re going to go digging this year and find out what you can do.”

Oh, and don’t be surprised if you visit Dundrum Town Centre tomorrow and find yourself surrounded by a sea of Dickensian gentlemen.  The boys are going to see The Man Who Invented Christmas, a film about Charles Dickens, dressed for the occasion as their favourite characters from the book- what else!

Click here to listen to that programme in full.  

© The Listener 2017

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