The Prison Teacher


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175 in stock


Experiences of A Teacher in a Male Prison
By Krysia Martin

ISBN: 978-1-84991-089-7
Published: 2010
Pages: 132
Key Themes: fiction, prison, authority



We see the high walls, and the barred windows, the pictures of the long landings and wings. We see prison officers going into the building and visitors arriving to see their loved ones, but what is it really like inside a prison? What goes on in there?

The stories in this book are about the everyday life of a female prison teacher in a male environment. They tell of lessons that have made a difference, of lessons that have been unsuccessful, of laughter and tears both from the students and the teachers. They tell of the different values held by the teachers and their students, of the loneliness, despair, violence and fear. Each story takes a different lesson or event, and relates what happened. Kate, the teacher is passionate about changing the prisoners’ outlook, and helping them to become law-abiding citizens, but this is not always what her lessons achieve. By the end of the book, the reader will have experienced with Kate the frustrations, the joys, the tragedies and the triumphs within a huge, local, male prison.

About the Author

Krysia Martin was born in 1948 and lived in a Polish Resettlement Camp for the first ten years of her life. Her parents who had been deported from Poland to Siberia and so came to Britain with nothing, insisted that she used Education to move out of poverty. She trained to be a teacher in a Primary School. However, when she started work, and bought a car, she needed extra cash to pay for it. So she began teaching in a prison in the evenings. After her children were born, she left the school and moved to work in the prison part time. When her children were old enough, and she looked for permanent work outside, she realised that the education in the Primary Sector had changed and she was most qualified to work in a prison, teaching adults. It was with her strong belief that education was the key to increasing self confidence, and gaining control over life, poverty and helplessness that she undertook her work. Eventually, she stayed in the prison for thirty seven years.

Book Extract

She managed to park her car in the prison car park. It was full to bursting, so she squeezed herself into a tiny spot, locked away her mobile phone and walked up the wide driveway.

The white prison glowed in the sunlight, with its two flags, the Union Jack and the Prison Service, hanging limply on their poles. It was going to be hot, with no wind to ease the temperature. It was going to be hot in the classroom. She hoped that no other department had pinched the fan.
She passed through the main gate, showed her pass, and picked up her keys almost robotically, her mind elsewhere. The gate officers cracked a joke, and she smiled at them.

Inside, there was a different world. It was darker somehow, in shadow, far away from the heat and bright sunlight outside. She walked up the steps, pushed open the main door, and walked up the white admin corridor. People were coming in with her. Officers in their smart uniforms were striding briskly to their wings, Governors, “suits”, were stopping to chat, as she walked on. She opened the gate into the Centre, and the four wings spread out before her.
It was noisy. She heard the clanging of cell doors as the officers unlocked the prisoners for work. Men in their grey or maroon uniforms were appearing from their cells, sleepily rubbing their eyes, or moving smartly towards the showers and the hot water. It was noisy. People were surprised at the noise when they visited, used to television pictures of quiet wings and landings, when prisoners were locked away so that their faces could not be caught on camera. Now, prisoners were shouting to each other, officers were calling out. Shouts of “Educa..shun”, “Let’s have you for Educa..shun”…, clanging of doors, keys jangling, gates banging. Not a quiet place, a prison.

She unlocked the gate to the wing, and walked up the landing. The prisoners greeted her cheerfully, “Hullo Miss!”, “How are you?” “You look nice.” “Gonna be a scorcher”. She smiled at them. Despite the surroundings, the noise and the clamour, the prisoners made her work worthwhile. As she walked up the landing, some came up, asking her questions about the class, or proudly telling her about some achievement – “Miss, I found the name of that …”, “Miss, when am I going to get on classes?” or joking, “Hey Miss, when are we going for that drink?” Education orderlies with their red t-shirts, with EDUCATION SUPPORT printed proudly on their backs, were ushering wayward students towards the gates.

She climbed the stairs towards the Education Department and unlocked the gates. Here there was a brightness and energy. Prisoners’ paintings lined the walls. There was a board displaying poetry and creative writing. Another board showed posters, which told of coming events, courses, helplines, and the Equal Opportunity, Race Relations and Anti-Bullying mission statements. She turned into the tiny staffroom/office and greeted the other teachers, who were busy preparing their classes, photocopying, looking through books, collecting their registers.

“Good morning, Tuesday gang”, she called to the other teachers. She left her things in a locked drawer, picked up her keys and walked up the corridor to her classroom. It was going to be a good day. She had planned an exciting lesson, trying to enliven a somewhat boring subject – Cashflow Forecast in Starting your own Business. The classroom was sunny. Four big windows with bars, overlooked the exercise yard, and the workshops opposite. She had put up some lively posters displaying her subject. She had put pretty plants on the window sill, and generally the classroom was welcoming and, apart from the bars, could have been anywhere in a college.


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