Thursday, October 27, 2011

Okay, Lisa and Keith left comments yesterday that made me start thinking about my teachers.   First of all I love teachers.  As far as I am concerned teachers should be paid like rock stars and professional athletes. There is nothing more important than education and teachers are the point at which knowledge plows the new ground of fertile minds.  If this capitalistic society rewarded salary based on actual value then teachers would be at the top of the heap. My Dad was a teacher, and a good one. Had the job paid enough to support his family on that single income he might have retired a teacher.
I remember some great teachers in my life and then there were some that.... well, since there are teachers reading... let's just say... there was a disconnect between us. Nothing could exemplify either side of the spectrum more than my second and third grade teachers.
Mrs. McClure was my second grade teacher. She was a red haired Scottish Lady with mean eyes and a quick temper. Mrs. McClure believed that the way to motivate kids into doing better was to humiliate them when they didn't muster up to her learning curve. It was the Darwinian theory of learning; learn at the same level and speed as the rest of the pack or sacrifice your self esteem. She believed slow learners should not only be "stepped over" but "stepped on" in the process. She was an early believer in "no child left behind" except the stupid ones who couldn't keep up to her pace. 
I lived in fear of wearing the "slow poke" sign pinned to the shirt on my back during recess if I did not keep up;  or having to wear a hat in class called a "thinking cap" if I didn't read well.  To the rest of my class mates the hat was nothing more than a dunce cap. These stellar ideas were some of the more subtle methods she employed. I missed almost 30 days of school that year because of her. It was only second grade but I already hated this entire process called school, and I got so good at faking an illness they should have given me the Tony Award right then and there. As I look back she was the one who turned me from neutral to an absolute hatred for school.
The next year we moved away. It was a different town, and a new start.  In the third grade I had Mrs. Gordon as my teacher. Mrs Gordon was a saint and I am sure that now there is a cathedral somewhere in Texas dedicated to her goodness. She had a child who was 15 years older than me and experienced learning challenges in school. She dubbed his type of learner a "creative child". Billy learned to cope with his disabilities very well, went on to college and became a structural engineer, I think. I suspect he was dyslexic like me although they didn't know what that was back then.  But Mrs. Gordon recognized that my comprehension was similar to her son Billy and treated me accordingly. I do remember that when I was having trouble with something she would tell me what Billy had done in a similar situation.  I don't remember ever actually meeting Billy, but he sort of mentored me by proxy through that year. I missed very few days of school in third grade and only for legitimate sickness.  I actually decided to give fourth grade a shot because of Mrs. Gordon and continued to attempt to cope like her son Billy. It worked out for me.
So here is a shout out to all the great teachers of the world. Thanks...  You inspire us all.  
And a scream out to those teachers that subscribe to the McClure method of leaning.... perhaps a career as prison guard would be more rewarding for you.  Unfortunately, the worst prison guard makes more than the best teacher.
As you were,

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Another great post, Jay. I, too, had teachers on both ends of the spectrum. Some people teach because they love kids; some do it for summers off.