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Britain's Education Secretary Michael Gove is seen through a window as he speaks in a television studio booth at the Conservative Party annual conference in Birmingham October 6, 2010. (TOBY MELVILLE/Reuters)

Britain's Education Secretary Michael Gove is seen through a window as he speaks in a television studio booth at the Conservative Party annual conference in Birmingham October 6, 2010.

(TOBY MELVILLE/Reuters)

British politician says sorry to French teacher – 30 years later Add to ...

As Britain’s Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove spends a lot of time thinking about student behaviour.

And now, it seems his smart-alecky behaviour as a student 30 years ago had been weighing on him enough that he decided to write an open letter to his old French teacher.

An article in The Telegraph reports that the politician sent the note to Robert Gordon’s College in Aberdeen where, most shockingly, Daniel Montgomery continues to teach today.

The letter appeared in Radio Times, a magazine and website that publishes radio and television listings plus original content.

Apparently, Gove was less a slacker than a show-off, that certain kind of kid who would attempt to outsmart his superior with “clever dick” questions.

The Daily Mail notes that the “belated apology” came as part of an effort to promote the Teaching Awards, which celebrates achievements in teaching across Britain and will be aired on BBC Two this Sunday.

Montgomery, 55, still remembers Gove. ‘“Even in those days, Michael stood out. I remember the words of one of my colleagues at the time: ‘That boy is a future leader of the Conservative Party,’ ” he told the Daily Mail.

Gove now blames his lack of respect on the fact that his teacher was only 10 years older “and therefore ripe for ragging.”

Essentially, he and his friends were teacher bullies.

In addition to pictures of Montgomery and Gove today, the article also shows Gove from his high-school years. Let’s put it this way: He was certainly no jock.

So while the moral of the story is familiar – that it’s never too late to say you’re sorry – there’s still one unanswered question: Will any other good come of this than simply Gove pacifying his conscience? Will the awards show really get an uptick in viewers? Will a wave of Baby Boomers start searching for their math and phys ed teachers on Facebook and posting apologies on their walls? Will Montgomery receive extra hugs from his students?

Any which way, there’s really no downside. Gove, you did good – er, well – this time.

Would you consider apologizing to your high-school teacher for past poor behaviour?

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