Sunday, June 01, 2008

Mr. Ding and Willie


Willie was a mediocre student. School was just somewhere he went to kill time during the day. Willie's teachers were nice people, but little more than than. They never taught him multiplication tables and never pushed any kind of phonics. Willie didn't care. He was getting by and that was all that mattered.

When Willie was a little boy, classes were homogeneous. The smartest kids ended up in the 6 - 1 class and the slowest in the 6 -6 class. Little mediocre Willie ended up in the 6 -3 class, which was fine with him. As luck would have it, Mr. Ding was teaching the 6 - 3 class that year and Willie was exposed to his first male teacher. Mr. Ding didn't believe in mediocrity and he pushed the kids to their limits. Every day he drilled multiplication tables. Every day, he pushed reading. In spite of this, Mr. Ding believed school should be fun. In good weather, he brought his class outside every day at 2:00 to play. They swung bats and chased baseballs and laughed at the 6 -1 kids still inside with their books.

Willie is an adult now. He went to Stuyvesant High School and received his undergraduate and graduate degrees (in math) from Queens College. He credits Mr. Ding with turning his education around. Willie recently retired after a long, successful career as a high school teacher. He took the lessons he learned from Mr. Ding and applied them to his daily teaching. I am betting that Willie has influenced and helped students in the same way that Mr. Ding helped him.

2 comments:

17 (really 15) more years said...

The sad part is, in the current DOE, Mr. Ding would either be sitting in the rubber room, or languishing as an ATR.

When will they get it? I wouldn't want my child being "taught" by another student while the teacher acts as a facilitator. Drill and rote work didn't hurt us.

Pissed Off said...

I told Willie the same thing yesterday. His methods might have landed him a spot in rr.