I find school boring. I find traditional classrooms mind numbing. So much so that I have fought hard against learning anything, even to the point of dropping out of high school. Now, I’m on the verge of turning 44 (it is later in this month that this particular turning of years will occur), and having lived my life in utter despise of traditional schooling, I have to say that there were moments when I actually learned something my teachers were trying to teach. Surprising, I know! (trust me, I don’t blame the teachers, I’m just a knuckle head.)
To start, there was Mrs. Ford, my kindergarten teacher. She was my teacher the year it snowed in Miami, and I remember it being such a big deal, even though the snow melted before it hit the ground. According to my mother, I gave Mrs. Ford a hard time, never really obeying or doing as I was told, which caused my mom to have to come to class with me on several occasions and sit in a chair that was meant for a 5 year old. I don’t know if it was me coloring outside the lines, not counting to 10, or just being a rambunctious boy who was way to smart for his own good (a phrase that seems to follow me) that caused all the grief, but grief I gave. And thus starts my school career, setting me on a path of… well, lets just say it didn’t get much better from this point.
Mr. Hall was a science teacher in middle school. He was wicked cool with his full face beard, his neat science stuff and his awesome ability to fling an eraser at a student from across the room. Then there was Ms. Haislip and her long hippy hair who would start every English class with 15 minutes of journal writing. Let’s not forget my 10th grade geometry teacher who was drunk during most of the classes I slept through (it was first period, who gets up that early anyway?)
Mr. Mattaus (I seriously don’t remember how to spell his name), would start every session of my 9th grade American Civics class by reading Lewis Grizzard. I can’t remember a single thing about what he taught me (or maybe I do and just don’t attach it to him), but I remember falling in love with the beginning of his class. To this day, I have an avid appreciation for Lewis Grizzard and his writings.
Mrs. Arthur was my high school math teacher. I took her for Algebra (1 or 2), and the following year, I decided I would take her class, Probability and Statistics, a college level class (this was way, way, way before dual enrollment, in the phase of IB classes for college credits). She started the class explaining how missing a class would put us far behind as each lesson built on the last one, so to do our best not to be absent. Me being me, I would miss several days in a row, show up to class, and catch up with everyone else in that 45 minute window. One day, Mrs. Arthur pulled me aside after class, looked at me and said, “Why are you wasting your intelligence and my time? All you have to do is apply yourself. You’re too smart for your own good.” Ahh, those words. How they so accurately define my life and quite frequently come back to bite me.
I have had a plethora of instructors and teachers, all doing their best to impart to me some form of knowledge or another. Some were teaching me things I knew more about than they did (i.e. my college teacher for computers, with whom the entire class ignored and asked me questions on the topic (and consequently I got a D in the class (apparently, she didn’t like that at all))), some were teaching me things I barely had a passing interest in (I look at you foreign language classes), and some taught me stuff I had no idea would become so incredibly important to me (a conversation I once had, when I was about 11 or so, with a family friend who just spoke into my life words that would echo with me for the last 30 years).
The reality of teachers is that you never truly appreciate their lessons until years later. Years after they have done their best to pass on that knowledge. Years after you have fought tooth and nail not to learn anything. Years after you can go back and say ‘thank you’ to them.
I think the biggest joke of it all is… somewhere along the line, I became a teacher. Not a traditional one (not yet, at least), but in doing youth ministry I have worked with kids and tried to help them navigate this thing called life, passing on life lessons and what wisdom I have gleaned from years of not listening. And now, I find myself back in college and working toward my Master’s degree so I can become a college professor (maybe… one day).
Seriously, I think something is wrong with me.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Teacher’s Pet.”