best and worst teacher

Mine? Marty **** My high school histoiry teacher.

A fervent Reagan Rublican. When I was a 15 year old socialist. He fell in love when he started talking about the labour movement and I came in the next day with a copy of the Communist Manifesto. He loved me for giving him a good argument.

He also called me an iconoclast. I still wear that name with pride.

Next…Shelly ****. My photo history teacher at NYU. Brilliant. And weird, when by the 2nd semester she started going on about Seth Speaks. Odd but I still love her.

Least favourite? Al ****. I was 12 when he leaned me up on the blackboard and told me he wanted me in his bed.

I didn’t have a very good 7th grade.

ok, please share

Those Rublicans really rub me the wrong way.

The worst:

Many of us began having nightmares in 2nd grade . . . thanks to the horrible witch we had for a teacher. She wore the same thing every single day: a starched long-sleeved white blouse; a long, straight black skirt; black, laced high-top shoes; her hair in little bobby-pinned curls, covered by a hair net; wire-rim glasses and no make-up whatsoever.

Nobody ever saw her smile.

She believed in learning through discipline. If anyone misbehaved, they had to spend time in the “cloak room” in the back of the room . . . short on air and light. If a kid didn’t finish his morning assignment, he couldn’t eat lunch. I was very meticulous, and often didn’t eat lunch until on the school bus on the way home.

She was not above slapping a kid. This was back when teachers could do that.

During a PTA meeting, she told the parents: “I hate all children, especially boys.”

The best:

My 8th grade math teacher. First of all, I was one of those kids who just totally understood math without any effort. Sometimes the teacher would ask the class a question, then go around and get everyone’s wrong answer . . . knowing that I would get it right, and usually add something that was beyond the original question. So of course I was the “teacher’s pet.”

But the best thing: Being a 13-year-old with newly-raging hormones, I was just coming to terms with my sexual orientation. And this teacher was precisely my type. So for the first time in my life, I actually had a huge crush on anyone.

I haven’t seen this teacher since changing schools the following year. But years and years later I heard that he was also gay.

The Worst:

My 8th grade earth science teacher. He would just assign a lot of work every day but would never go over it in class. Instead he would talk about his past successful students and what he thought made them successful. If you are looking for the best way to make your students completely not care about earth science this is it. Just assign them a boring eight grade textbook to memorize and never explain any of the subject matter.

By the middle of the year I could not take it anymore. I stopped doing my homework completely and just showed the homework monitor the same assignment over and over again until someone ratted me out. After that I either copied the homework or just didn’t do it. Luckily it was late enough in the school year that the missed assignments were not enough to fail the class.

Nearly every math teacher I’ve ever had. What a mindless group of morons. Most of them. I had to sit there and watch them make the simplest math mistakes, or make up math theory because they did not know the answer to a student’s question. What made it worse was that I didn’t have the social skills to raise my hand and explain why they were wrong.

The Best:

My 11th grade physics teacher. The first time I understood why anyone cared about science. Every formula he taught would be preceded by an explanation of its history (how and who discovered it), and what it was used to create. For example, how Bernoulli’s principle was instrumental in air travel. He would joke about how Bernoulli’s equation was his favorite formula and that he would often spray paint the formula on random buildings. I still remember most of what I learned in his class and it has helped me understand a lot about how the universe generally works.

More importantly he made me realize that I could understand a complicated subject if tried. Before him my only goal in school was to pass classes, not to learn anything. So I thought I wasn’t smart enough to understand anything too complicated. His class changed all that. I tried and learned physics. Nothing else I’ve ever learned comes close to the value of the knowledge that you are not limited in what you can learn and understand.

The Worst:

My 5th grade science teacher. He gave me all A+ grades even when I didn’t deserve them. He was always overly attentive and kept asking me to go to Who concerts with him. He looked me up 10 years after graduation and asked me out and I wanted to puke.

The Best:

My third grade teacher for letting me wax her rubber tree palnt. No seriously, My 4th grade reading teacher. He taught me how to speed read and introduced me to the love of reading.

My mom spearheaded a committee that ran my 6th grade teacher out of the district. I guess the agenda (Sex sex sex your parents should vote for Nixon sex jesus sex jesus) coming out of my mouth raised suspicions just a tad. We were instructed to write congratulations letters to her husband for getting her (our teacher) pregnant. And we did so. How’s that for a WTF moment? What a nutbag.

I had a college professor that literally disappeared just prior to finals. His fake name was Willie Zeno, and was a phony with no credentials. Someone was closing in on him, and he took his papers and disappeared in the middle of the night. The college just said “eh” and gave us all a “B”. Another WTF moment.

There was the English teacher who sexually molested me my junior year of high school, but that was in a class (so to speak) by itself.

My 10th grade social studies teacher was the football coach. Totally useless as a teacher. The day before every test, he’d say, "Take out your notebooks. Write this down. Question one on tomorrow’s test is ‘blah blah blah.’ The answer is ‘blah blah blah.’ " Lather, rinse, repeat for the remaining test questions.That’s one way to cut down on the time spent grading, I guess.

My 7th grade math teacher was 90 years older than God and mean as a snake to anyone who wasn’t paying attention. But she made math “click” for me. I was behind the eight ball coming into her class, because I had transferred from another school and did not have the preparation the other kids in my class had. After her class, I jumped up to the advanced math track, took geometry in summer school, and continued in advanced math through high school. Thank you, Mrs. McCarty!

I also loved my senior English teacher in high school. I went to the state university and I actually had a professor tell me he could tell who had been her students because the quality of their writing. Thank you, Mrs. Maddox!

freck, that’s awful. :frowning:

I’ve had sooo many awesome teachers.

First, the worst:

Eh, it might be the professor I have now. He opened the class by saying that he hated teaching social work students because we were all females and therefore gendered into knowing nothing about social policy. He ranted about the department as a whole for being unacademic (it is), and then gave us an hour long exam to confirm his belief that we didn’t know anything. Sample question: ‘‘Briefly summarize the economic history of the United States from 1900 to present. Include at least one graph.’’

For the first four weeks of class we were given very difficult exams on the 200 pages of reading… not ‘‘know the gist’’ kind of things, but very specific questions. And as he gave the exams he told us he’d never done that before but the last class he taught was such a disappointment, blah blah, and his undergraduate economics class thought the questions were easy, blah blah blah. And how he really wanted to do interesting and fun things but we were just sooooooo beneath the standards he needed to proceed, blah blah blah blah blah.

What made it worse is that a ton of people were complaining and arguing with him through the whole thing, which hijacked every single academic discussion into a student bitching session in which he would just sit there stoically and patronize everyone. Also, he came up with this elaborate grading system just to fuck with people… point assignments for every interesting thing said in class, etc. He hates doing this, he says, but people keep e-mailing him worried about their grades and he wants to make them feel better.

He’s also the sort of professor that will never give you a straight answer about anything. One girl asked, in class, whether the paper could be more or less than the 6 page requirement. He basically said, ‘‘Now let’s think about this for a minute. If you’re looking at a document such as the syllabus, and you’re in a position subordinate to me, and I have the power, who does it benefit to ask that question, you or me?’’ He went on for about 5 minutes while the question-asker turned purple with rage/embarrassment/confusion. Or someone might make a point and he’d reply, ‘‘If you’re not interested in social change, that would be a good strategy.’’ We’re all social workers of course. People would come out of that class furious.

So the first month or two with him was hell. No clear expectations, rules constantly changing, would not commit to class assignments, and random e-mails about events we were expected to attend outside of class. As a person who desperately needs structure and clear expectations, I had about four anxiety attacks a week with this guy.

But… he has his redeeming qualities. For one thing, he’s allowing me and some of my classmates to throw out the syllabus entirely and do real social policy work with the city of Philadelphia. So far his classes have involved trips to the museum and trips to the computer lab to learn how to use various technological tools (video editing, animating statistical data, etc.) He’s a very generous person and very passionate about his work, and everyone outside the class claims he’s the sweetest person ever. So he seems to have calmed down somewhat. In fact, if it weren’t for the first two months of hell, I might like him.

Thanks, olives. I just had one of those :smack: insight moments about that whole experience, vis-a-vis my threads about husband and son.

One other awesome teacher: My acting teacher in college, who has now apparently entered the ranks of the revered, as Sandra Bullock also studied with him. Most acting teachers tell you to find a scene you want to work on, and as young actors, we make spectacularly wrong choices. This teacher assigned pairs of us to work on scenes that he chose. In other words, he cast us. That made all the difference in the world. He enabled us to recognize our strengths and taught us how to tap into them. Thank you, Don Biehn!

Tough call. I’ve had some great teachers, and some lousy ones. Among the best:

Mr. M, 11th grade history: Sparked my love of history with his enthusiasm for the subject. Made me realize that history was more than boring dates and people; there was a story to it, and an event here could influence an event there. Stayed in touch with him well after high school.

Mrs. J, 12th grade English: Realized that writing was my forte (even if Wuthering Heights was not), and encouraged me in that direction. Thanks to her influence and encouragement, I was published by the time I was 20, and went on to be a professional writer for over 20 years, publishng many things for clients, and more than a few of my own.

Mr. B, 6th grade: For teaching us all the things we needed to know going forward. The world is a fascinating place; learn natural history. Politics helps you know what’s happening in your community and country; learn how to participate and be a citizen. Sports are fun; learn what the right one is for you. Math is complicated, but pretty much everything can be tracked back to basic arithmetic; learn your times tables.

Among the worst:

Mr. M, 7th grade: A hippy-dippy approach to education; if it feels good, do it. If a child cannot do something, let’s dumb it down until he or she can. Since I could read well, I had to read Shakespeare. Since a classmate did not read well, he got to read Cat in the Hat. Oh, and that boy who beats up the class nerd daily is not aggressive; he is merely expressing anger and frustration at a system that neglects his socio-economic needs. No, I learned years later; he was just a bully.

The vast majority were stunningly good - what I needed at the right time I needed it.

But I can think of two…

One was a hippy who believed in, like, communication, man…

Our school had two swimming pools, and he wanted to take one over and put dolphins in it so we 12 year olds could study communication. Oooookay. (There was no way the school would ever allow it, yet he apparently persisted in trying.) I got good marks from him, though, so I can’t complain.

The other was a 4th grade student teacher. I still remember this woman who probably would have been about 20, but when you are an 8 year old 4th grader, anyone older than 15 might as well be 50.

Our regular teacher finally gave her a chance to fly solo. So she tried to teach us about Pascall’s triangle. None of the binomial co-efficients stuff - just the basics of how the thing is constructed with each line being made up by summing the number pairs above.

Within a minute, she was out of her depth with the arithmetic of summing single digits in a pretty straightforward pattern. And not just one mistake - she didn’t get the whole concept, even though she had studied up on it to do the lesson.

The whole class of 8 year olds was yelling at her that she was doing it wrong. It was like being at a kid’s pantomime with the character on stage really not knowing someone was behind her.

Some kids were patronisingly patient, others just called her for being a dummy. Others came up the front, took the chalk off her and showed her where she was wrong. Never have I seen 40 8 year olds with such collective confident genial contempt.

Eventually, our regular teacher invoked the mercy rule and took back the controls, letting the student teacher sit down. I still recall the look of forlorn desolation on her face as she gave the chalk back. She really was Not Smarter Than a 4th Grader. It must have been a devastating blow to her confidence. I still feel sorry for her, and I wonder what ever happened to her career. (Jokes about selling derivatives on Wall St may be inserted here, but I do genuinely wonder how a person recovers from that.)

Best - an astronomy professor who, after I said I’d finished the lab exercise, quickly pointed out at least a dozen different ways in which I could have made the result better. He set the stage for my current drive to do quality scientific work.

Worst - third grade, a young lady who had a very explosive temper and really tainted a big phase of my childhood. By later reports, she had been in a difficult phase of her own life, and became much better within a couple years.

My Best Teacher: Mr. Bates (his real name; hopefully, no invasion of privacy since he’s been dead for years). High school physics teacher; modus operandi was to teach science via humor. Insisted his students call him Master. He could cut wise-acre students to the quick with biting sarcasm and keep the rest of us rolling on the floor with his campy puns or pithy witticisms. But, he had a passion for physics and he wove the subject adeptly through the fabric of his humor. We even looked forward to taking his tests. Example: “Joe was hot for Sally and he asked her out on a date to a fancy eating establishment. He puts Sally on his skateboard on top of the 8m high hill they are on, which is inclined 12 degrees from the horizontal. How much time does it take them to travel from the top to MacDonald’s, located at the base of the hill?.. While seated and looking at Sally’s ample breast, Joe’s blood rages with hormones, making him nervous and tongue tied. While stammering out something romantic to say, a particle of hamburger meat drops from his lips with a mass of 2m. After a 13 inch drop, the meat particle collides and sticks to a particle of bubble gum at rest on the table. What fraction of the initial kinetic energy is lost in the collision?..”

When it came time for our class physics project toward the end of the year, I knew I’d have to instill a lot of humor into my project if I wanted to score a high mark. After some deliberation, I decided I could tickle Master Bate’s funny bone best if I made a stop-action movie, using my Dad’s old 8mm Kodak movie camera, circa 1960. Somehow, I twisted the concept of stop-action movie making and related it to some sort of relativistic space-time continuum thingy, as I recall. The best way to describe the resulting movie is perhaps: Last Tango in Paris, starring Barbi and GI Joe

When I presented the movie in class, Master Bates nearly fell off his chair laughing, then replayed it again and again. He asked to keep the movie and I agreed to let him have it. I got the only A+ in our class.

I visited my old high school nearly 20 years after graduating and thereafter passing through the lecture halls of a seemingly endless succession of numbingly tedious (with a few notable exceptions) professors. I made the nostalgic visit shortly before Master Bates retired (and then passing away). He remembered me right off the bat. Then, to my delight and amazement he said, “I play that porno movie of yours to my class every year, and tell them if you want an A+ on your project, make something like this.”

My Worst Teacher: Second grade teacher, Mrs. Magillicutty (not her real name). Before blooming into the badass, yet erudite, rebel stud that I became and remain to this day, well into middle age, I was a painfully shy, nerdish kid in my early years. Although I yearned to blend stealthily into the mass of devil-may-care hooligans that were my classmates in elementary school, I just couldn’t pull it off. “Nice” stuck to me like white on rice.

So, why does Mrs. Magillicutty rise to the top of my worst teacher list…perhaps even to the top of my most despised person in Western Civilization list? Well, I’ll tell you: Because her sole raison d’État was to constantly and unremittingly separate me, and only me, from the rest of the pack—the herd of seven year old hellions I wanted desperately to be a part of. I was <shudder & quake> the loathsome “teacher’s pet”. I could do no wrong in that bitch’s eyes. To this day, I have frequent night terrors, waking up in a cold sweat, ears ringing with her shrill voice saying those same gut-wrenching words , “boys and girls, why can’t you all be more like Tibby, he’s the only good boy in class!” You can only imagine what this did to my second grade sex life—that’s right, it plummeted precipitously and significantly.

Perhaps the memory that haunts me the most is of the cafeteria “pickle incident” debacle. Here’s the scene: My classmates and I were finishing up with our bagged lunches (damn, mom made liverwurst, Velveeta and mustard sandwiches to die for) and getting a bit rambunctious, something any All-American group of youngsters with full stomachs are apt to do. Well, seemingly out of nowhere, a pickle flies through the air, above our lunch table, on what appeared to be a guided course toward the head of a classmate. It wasn’t one of those large Deli gherkins that could inflict significant trauma upon impact, just a smallish sweet pickle. I suspect it came from the bag of Tommy B (not his real name), since his mom was known to be a rather exotic lunch packer (yes, a pickle in a kid’s lunch bag was considered pretty exotic back in the 60’s), and Tommy liked to throw things at others kid’s heads.

The pickle did indeed connect with another classmate’s head, that of Timmy G (not his real name), and from that instant on, all hell broke out and escalation ensued. I don’t recall exactly how the carnage transpired from that point on—what with the fog of war clouding perception and all—but after a minute or two of the pickle projecting to and fro, bouncing off one classmates head, only to be snatched up by another, then and re-tossed, the unexpected happened. The pickle hit me in the head, and then dropped to my lap. Damn, it was like Pearl Harbor all over again. I got suckered into a conflict I wanted no part of. All the beady seven-year-old eyes were now upon me. What was I going to do? I heard Billy Q (not his real name) shout, “Throw it, Tibby”, and then this became a chant as others joined in. *“Throw the pickle, Tibby!” * Was I going to a champ for once, or the chump I’ve always been in this god-forsaken class?

I picked up that pickle and I threw it. I threw it hard and with determination. The two inch sweet, though somewhat sour, chartreuse missile rocketed through the air and impacted its intended target, that being the eyeball of Betsy Alice Baker (this is her real name, I don’t think she’ll sue), our cerebral palsy classmate with the mechanical chair. Her eye reddened and she began to cry. Oh man, this was my finest moment. I finally broke form, shed my stifling “good boy” persona—and now fit in with my peers! Proudly, I looked around the table, meeting the approving eyes of the herd. My herd.

So, where was Bitchtress Magillicutty? Did she witness her “good boy” finally descend into the realm of misfits and miscreants? Nope, my cloying nemesis had her back turned to all the flying vegetative action up to this point—no doubt trying to entice the person she was currently flirting with, Jeeves the Janitor (not his real name), into porking her in the stock room during break—only to turn her eyes back toward her class after my heroic mis-deed was done. In her eyes, the prosecutable group offence did not begin until Elmer F (not his real name) picked up the pickle after its collision with Betsy Alice Baker’s eye, thus igniting round two of pickle-mania. I did not participate in this new conflict, I morphed into WWII Switzerland. In teacher’s eyes, I was still her innocent golden boy. Crap.

With the haziness of distant memories (and in the interest of humor), some of the aforementioned “pickle incident” details may be slightly askew or possibly somewhat embellished, but, as God is my witness, what follows is completely spot on, to the best of my recollection: Mrs. Magillicutty handed out severe punishment for the entire class as atonement for this pickle incident. The entire class—minus one, that is. “You will all stay in class detention instead of going to recess for the rest of the week (it was Tuesday), except for Tibby, he didn’t do anything wrong.” What the…even Spazy Betsy?…what’d she do wrong, slobber too much on her mechanical chair?!? All eyes laser beamed on me. Protestations justifiably followed—“Tibby threw the pickle just like the rest of us”—but to no avail. I was judged innocent of all wrongdoing by the Mistress of Misery and that was that.

Now, imagine a 7 year old boy frolicking on the playground, all by himself (recess was segregated by class), just outside his classroom, with his classmates—seated with hands folded on their desks—peering at him through a row of crystal clear windows, knowing all too well that Mr. Fancypants Frolicker (not my real name) was falsely pronounced innocent of a crime they themselves were currently paying severe penance for. And, you wonder why it took, literally, years of damage control after that before I got laid?

Fast forward to 7th grade: Testicles now fully descended and finally getting my mojo back after the notorious “pickle debacle”. There was a newly elected school superintendent in town and he wanted to get a “feel” for the student experience by following one student (one pathetic dweeb from each district school) around during an entire school day—sitting next to him in each class, during lunch, on the toilet (ok, maybe not there)…virtually everywhere, not unlike an ugly middle-aged co-joined twin attached to your adolescent hip. We already got a load of this guy during an assembly for which he was the focus: total geek, from the tips of his spit-shined wing-tips to the top of his Brylcreemed hair, complete with pocket protector and plaid leisure suit. It was announced on the intercom like this: *“Our model Middle School student, chosen to accompany Superintendant Pantywipe (not his real name) around school today is, Tibbytoes”. Time to put on my seat belt once again, it was going to be a bumpy flight.

Ms Moore was in her late sixties when I was in fourth grade. She had recently lost a lot of weight, and had flabby folds of skin everywhere. She constantly badgered us for being unhealthy slobs, and made us feel her muscles. Yes, she made us feel her muscles. Also, she locked me outside during a hailstorm, and told me I was absolutely under no circumstances allowed to have any cake like the rest of the class. I got pelted by hail for 2 or 3 minutes before deciding “what the heck am I doing out here?” and walking home. I don’t think she ever noticed I was gone.

I had Dr Ogbona for my first English composition college course. He was the most educated man I had met until that point, holding a phd, a master’s, and a bachelor’s degree in various languages. He undid most of the damage my previous teachers had done while trying to teach me English.

Worst: (Two candidates)
Miss S, 7th and 8th grade math teacher. I always “got” math without putting any effort into it (with one exception, an advanced graduate course called algebraic geometry that I actually had to work on). But Miss S didn’t care whether or not you learned the stuff she taught, only how much effort you put into it. Since I blew off all her idiotic make-work assignments (could you really learn math by cutting photos of spheres and cylinders out of magazines), I could never get an A from her.
Mr. S, a sadist masquerading as a HS gym teacher. I still, 58 years later fantasize, coming on him hanging on the edge of a cliff by his fingertips and I go to get a hammer… There was a rumor (which could have been correct) that during the war he had been a Marine Corps drill instructor.

Best: Prof. G. He was not the best teacher around, others have told me, but for me he was magic. After I had had only one year of calculus, I took his course in modern algebra, thinking it sounded interesting. At the end of the year, I was a mathematician. The entire year was fascinating. Only later, after I had taught such courses did I realize that what I had learned in that year was the equivalent of a full year graduate course in the subject, taught to students who have had at least one full year of the subject. The only thing is that I don’t think the other students in the course fared nearly as well as I. I can still tell you in detail what was covered, 54 years later.

Worst: Mr. Goff, 11th grade history. An absolutely vicious son of a bitch who played favorites with his “pet” kids and made life a miserable, living hell for kids he didn’t like. He would mock and ridicule any answer they gave, even if it was correct. He wasn’t above putting thumbtacks in our chairs so that we would “get the point?” when we sat down. The next year, I had left that school and was attending the one down the road when I heard that he had been caught screwing one of the other teachers in his office and they had both been fired. He committed suicide a week later. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

Best: Mr. Harrelson, college US history teacher. I credit him with awakening my love of learning. He was passionate about his subject and a great speaker, never boring. He told me after the second semester class that he wished I would become a history major so he could have the pleasure of continuing to read my essays on his tests. I had never had a teacher tell me something like that before.

Oh, and props to Ms. Ceirco, my 8th grade English teacher. She wasn’t that great a teacher, but gawds, she was hawt. She had a starring role in many, many of my early teenage masturbatory fantasies. Without a doubt, the loveliest teacher I ever had.

BEST: Diane ****, Spanish teacher at Springfield Southeast High School, 1988

Our relationship was… contentious. I was a smart-mouthed know-it-all, and high school was soooooo beneath me. She was a teacher who expected respect, but I had none to give. My dealings with her landed me in the principal’s office more times than I’d care to count. Nevertheless, she saw that I had a gift for foreign language, and she expected me to nurture it. Outwardly I couldn’t have cared less, but inwardly I knew that I loved learning Spanish. She saw through me.

On the last day of class of my senior year (Class of ‘88 rekonize!) she gave me one of her old college Spanish textbooks. I muttered a non-commital “thank you.” Seeing that I wasn’t impressed, she told me to open it to the first page. There, in fading ink, was this note (paraphrased because the book was destroyed when my parents’ basement was flooded):

"Dear Miss [her maiden name]:

Thank you for being one of my best students. I know that you will go far in your career. It has been an honor teaching you.

Professor Such-n-such, Dean of Foreign Languages, Augustana College."

One of my biggest regrets in life is that I let that book get destroyed.

WORST: Don’t remember her name because I blocked it out, but she was an English teacher at Franklin Middle School, 1982ish.

At one point during one of her lessons she said, and I quote, “I don’t make mistakes.”

When I was in about the second grade we were on our way into school from Mass at the beginning of the day. Sister Mary Lorenza pulled me out of line for talking. She pushed me into a corner of the hallway and told me that under no circumstances was I to leave that corner until she came back to get me. She promptly forgot about me. I stayed there all day. The lights went out. Everyone had gone home. I was terrified, but still too scared of Sister to leave the corner. About dinner time, I heard doors opening. The local neighborhood cop found me in the corner and took me home.

This happened fifty years ago. I remember this like it was last week. My mom was a convert to Catholicism and was really afraid to confront the clergy, so I do not know if anything happened as a result of this.

Best teachers:

Mr. Z…, 4th through 6th grade GATE teacher. This guy was nothing like what you’d expect an elementary school teacher to be like. He was a middle aged, tough as heck, no-nonsense kind of guy. He obviously loved what he was doing and wanted us to learn, but didn’t take guff from anybody. I adored him (not in a crush way, just in a ‘this is a great teacher’ way.)

Mr. O…11th grade English teacher. Nobody liked him. He was frumpy, dumpy, always had dandruff on his shoulders, wore weird clothes, had a strange sense of humor, and had the reputation for being the hardest teacher and hardest grader in school. We got along great. He was a nerd–liked science fiction and fantasy stuff, knew all sorts of things, and his assignments, while hard, were fun and quirky and not the standard high school fare. My friend and I used to go hang out in his classroom at lunch and talk. I got straight A’s in his course. He graded on a 5-point scale with 5 being perfect–usual scores were in the 2.5-4 range. I got high 4s and the occasional 5 on his tests. He taught me tons about English and writing and literature.

Mr. M…12th grade AP English. Oh, Mr. M. I had a raging crush on him. I think half the girls in the class did. He was one of a group of young, radical teachers who all came in at the same time and shook things up a lot. He treated us like adults, taught us adult material (no, not like that, you perv!) and expected us to work. We even had to buy our own books (he set up a bake sale thing to help out those whose parents couldn’t afford it). He was so fired up about his subject that he infected us all with it. Mr. M graded on a 9 point scale, where 9 was perfect. He said at the beginning of the year that nobody would get a 9. I got a 9. I still have the essay–it was about the play “Equus,” and I was never more proud of a piece of work I did in high school, because Mr. M didn’t give bullshit grades. I also got a 5 on the AP exam (one of only 2 in the class). I wish I’d had more teachers like that.

Worst teacher:

Mr. W…junior high gym teacher. Had no sympathy for the less athletic among the class. I was a lousy athlete. I couldn’t run a lap. Most other teachers would let you walk. I would have been happy to take a lower grade. But no, he made me run. I know this sounds like me whining, but Mr. W. was truly a dick as a gym teacher. Funny thing, he was also the drafting teacher and I took his course there as well–he was fine. Just something about teaching gym brought out the inner dick, I guess.

Mr. R…junior high math teacher. Had the rep of looking down girls’ shirts. Not a very good teacher, either. Never bothered me, but then again, I was never the type of girl who encouraged that sort of thing (and I didn’t wear shirts you could look down.)

I was very lucky. Only one baddish teacher - Mr. B, 8th grade English, who was clearly having problems. He was gone for much of the term, and couldn’t control our class the rest of it. We were smart, but had a couple of class clowns who would have done well as comedy writers or in standup.

a lot more good ones.

Miss McGovern, in 1st grade, who was about to retire and who was going to teach us reading phonetically no matter what the school board said.

Mr. Gottlieb, a neighbor, who taught algebra in junior high, and taught it well.
Mr. Brownstein, 10th grade English. We started off with “The Dirty Word” from Karl Shapiro, read the English translation of Wagner’s Ring. He invited us all to his apartment where we met his tall, thin, and very 1960’s wife, where he played Flanders and Swann for us. He supposedly changed his name and moved to Berkeley the next year, but it seems he returned. I went into a short opera phase thanks to him, which was better than any of my music teachers did.

Mr. Boiko, who taught 11th and 12th grade AP History. Early on he figured out that we were perfectly capable of learning everything we needed for the AP test by reading the awesome text by Morrison and Commager (he was right) so we spent class on enriched subjects and kind of a mini-GD.

Miss Snyder /Mrs. Horne who was our computer teacher in this time long before PCs. She was learning Fortran just ahead of us (and admitted it.) She demonstrated that you can teach something you don’t know an awful lot about as long as you really care about it and never lie about what you know.