I’ve been a professional student for pretty much my whole life.
I loved school…mostly. As my college and seminary courses wore on over seven years, there was a lot more “tolerating” school than “loving” school.
I’ve had a ton of teachers by now. So many, now, that I can no longer remember all of them. Some of them had a profound influence on me. Others are a faint memory of attempted state college political brainwashing.
A few years ago, I felt the urge to write to all of my primary teachers, to thank them for the job they did and to tell them what I had done with my life. I felt like a really good person for doing that, and I actually heard back from a couple of them.
We’ve all had teachers that we loved and hated. But as I’ve been trying to get myself to the front of a classroom, I’ve been thinking a lot about what made my teachers and professors great (or lousy.)
My Best Days of School Ever
Mrs. Z was my first teacher. Back then, we didn’t have any of this half-day kindergarten nonsense that my brother had. We had full day kindergarten, complete with three recesses, lunch, snacktime, and naps (plus music, art and PE), courtesy of your tax dollars. I’ve grown to learn that kindergarten teachers teach as many life skills as they do academic stuff. Thanks to Mrs. Z, I knew how to blow my nose, walk in a line, and keep my shoes tied, which was more than other kindergarteners could say.
Mrs. L was the fourth grade teacher every kid hated. She was four foot, three inches of mean. Third graders cried on the last day of school when they opened their report cards to find her name as their next teacher. I lucked out and didn’t get her. But that didn’t stop her from making me stand against the wall at recess that year.
In fifth grade, I had my first male teacher, and he was awesome. The most memorable day was learning about pendulums in Science class. Mr. D and Mr. N, the counselor, set up a twenty pound medicine ball hanging from the ceiling on a jump rope. Then a kid volunteered to sit in a chair and have the ball placed against his face. Then, Mr D let go and the ball went swinging away from the kid, and if the kid didn’t move, the ball would lose a tenth of an inch on the swing back and not knock his teeth out. The classic touch though was offering the first volunteer a bib which had been “bloodied” from last year’s volunteer, so as to not make a mess on his shirt.
All of my teachers got pregnant that year, which was kind of weird. Except Mrs. P, because she was 87 years old and kind of evil. Mrs. P enjoyed making dolls with dried apples for heads, but I’m pretty sure the “apples” were really the heads of children she lured into her house made of candy.
One session of philosophy class consisted of the professor telling us about dating his boss’s daughter as a nineteen year old. He would write her erotic love notes. He also happened to be living with his girlfriend’s family because he was homeless. It happened that his boss / girlfriend’s dad was gone one week from work, but happened to leave one of his suit jackets in the office. So Dr. M, being a smart kid, spent the week at work wearing the boss’s jacket and smoking the boss’s cigars. He also happened to absentmindedly leave one of the notes intended for his girlfriend in the jacket’s pocket. He became homeless again, and nearly shot to death, shortly after the boss’s return. Being philosophy class, I’m sure there was a moral to the story.
I don’t remember much about Dr. C’s college biology class because I spent most of my time passing notes to friends, which we wrote on bananas from the cafeteria. Bananas make remarkably good notepads. I also mistakenly dissected a massive cow’s heart instead of a sheep’s heart one day in the lab, probably due to banana-related distractions.
Dr. T was my design professor I had classes with for two years. He lacked certain social graces. I sarcastically clapped for him whenever he’d show the class his personal design work or tell us of his own accomplishments.
Dr. G was my logic professor. He knew that he was teaching us a general ed. class, and most of us thought it was worthless. So he began class on the first day telling us that of all the classes we will take in college, this will be the one we will actually use in our life. And when we do find that we have used what we learned from him, we owe him a beer. Dr. G was right, and I’m still trying to track him down to tell him so.
Dr. D’s theology class was pretty lousy. Except for the day he explained the Trinity to us. Brilliant. Ah, I’ll have to save that for another time. It’s simple, yet elegant. It’s not at all like that egg analogy.
Dr. R was my Greek teacher. He told us he hoped we wouldn’t remember a thing he ever said in class. He only hoped what he taught us would make us better pastors someday. It’s ironic that’s the one thing I do remember him saying. But his class did make me a better pastor.
There were lots of other amazing teachers. Who were your best teachers? Who were the teachers who wasted your time? What was the most memorable day of school you ever had?