Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Sometime Bad Teachers Can Serve A Purpose

In a book I am reading a group of women are discussing the best teachers they had.  It got me thinking about my teachers and I realized that some of the teachers that helped me the most were not good teachers, or even nice people.

Mr. L, my 12th grade calculus teacher was an evil, evil man.  He intimated the class, making everyone afraid to ask questions.  He humiliated students who could not do the work.  He opened all the windows on freezing cold days.  I remember the knots in my stomach as I went to class ever day.

Mr L taught me to be self reliant.  I needed help and found ways to get that help that did not depend on him. He forced me to spend extra time studying and I learned well and learned to appreciate the beauty of math because of the time I spent with it.

Mr. L's greatest gift to me can be seen in my classroom.  I vowed to be the exact opposite of him.  I encourage my students to ask questions on everything and tell them the only stupid questions are the ones that go unasked.  I never open windows if my students are cold and, the one time I only had two different classrooms, I brought in a fan during a heat spell.

I wouldn't wish a teacher like Mr. L on anyone, but, for me, he was all right, even if I did not know it when I sat, sick, in his class,


Anonymous said...

I have a similar situation like this from my second semester at UB. My professor as in how you described MR. L. However, this professor was more interested in her research and studies then making sure her students did well in Anatomy/Physiology of the Speech Mechanism. (part of speech/hearing sciences).

I will have to share this story next time I see you, because it is a good one. It involves me receiving 2 F exams in the beginning and ending up with a B by the end of the semester.


Daughter may know this story..

Anonymous said...

Had a similar situation in my time at Packemin with a math teacher whose mere name, when mentioned, could terrify students.

I think the true mark of his impact, however, was when our valedictorian's speech referenced her struggles in his class, and how it helped her learn so many academic skills, like self-reliance, that she would never have otherwise learned. I can honestly say the same.

Was he rude to many students and at times unreasonably difficult? Absolutely. But at the same time, it's exactly those qualities that pushed us in ways we had never been pushed before and made us truly grasp Math B.