My best teacher - Ronan Keating

17th September 2010 at 01:00
The moustached, French-speaking Mr Stanley made the Boyzone singer warm to school life

I moved about a lot when I was a kid because of my dad's job. Mr Stanley was my French teacher when I was at St Fintan's School in Dublin. He was just cool. You meet these people along the way who "get" you and understand you. With Mr Stanley, I felt that he was on a level, which you didn't get with a lot of teachers. He understood us and was on our wavelength.

I wasn't incredibly academic, but I did try. I liked French. I wasn't very good at it, but Mr Stanley understood the way we worked. I took French all the way through, but I didn't finish school: I left when I was 16 to join Boyzone.

Mr Stanley wasn't incredibly tall - about the height I am now - and he had a moustache. He seemed like quite a cultured chap for his age. Being a French teacher, he had obviously spent a bit of time on the continent. He was about 35 when I was 12 or 13. He was very friendly with us all; chatty and not overly strict, which is probably why most of the lads liked him.

Sport was important to me at school. I was the first out of the door when it was PE. I was on the athletics team and the football team when I was about 11 or 12. I was Irish champion for the 200 metres.

I was thrown out of the choir at National School (primary), but that was probably for messing about rather than my singing ability. I loved singing, but it wasn't my priority when I was a younger kid. Music took over when I was about 11.

My brothers and sisters started emigrating to America and I inherited their music collection. Because of that, I got into music in a big way and started singing. It was a mad collection: everything from Frank Sinatra to Queen; The Alan Parsons Project to The Police. I would be singing into a hairbrush in my bedroom in front of the mirror. This was the music that I loved and I really wanted to make it. I was in a school band that won a few talent shows. We would do covers and that's where it really started for me.

My parents were always supportive. It was a tough decision for my mam and dad to let me leave school to join Boyzone. My mam said: "I'll let you do it, but you'll have to promise to go back to school if it fails." Luckily, I haven't had to go back yet.

My kids (aged 11, nine and four) are just in a normal school. My nine- year-old daughter has dyslexia and she is in this incredible class called the Unit. The teachers are wonderful. There weren't things like that when I was at school.

If my kids wanted to get into the music business that would be fine. But they would have to want to do it because they want to be good at it - not because they want to be famous.

That's the problem with the youth of today: everyone wants to be famous. They think it's easy, but it's hard work. It was different when I was younger, because we didn't have reality TV and all those different things that have changed the way people look at the entertainment industry.

Mr Stanley was just a good person. When you are a kid, you are not a big fan of teachers, and he made me think: `You know what? Teachers are ok.'

Singer-songwriter Ronan Keating was a member of Boyzone and is currently on the judging panel for `The X Factor' (Australia) He was talking to Meabh Ritchie.

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