I’m an American who spent several years overseas in American schools. I have a theory about teachers who end up in exotic locations. My theory includes imaginings of adventurous souls, rebellious ex-patriots, and flights from assorted goons, bounty hunters, and moral standards committees. This is how I explain my wild-eyed unkempt biology teacher, my gruff Russian drafting instructor, or any number of eccentric individuals who mumbled, grumbled, and shrieked at me over the years.
My algebra teacher was one of my favorites. She combined seduction with instruction. She was dark-haired and voluptuous. Her uniform was a tight skirt, heels, and a black bra which usually showed through her blouse. The blouse was always done up one button short of propriety. During quiet time, after instruction, when we worked problems at our desks, she would circulate. When you had a question she came to you, leaned over, and put one hand on your desk and one on your back. After stammering your perplexity with factoring she would begin to whisper sweet suggestions in your ear. “Use the FOIL method we discussed,” she would breathe. “Of course, the FOIL method,” you would say to yourself, “How did that go? First, Outer, Inner…inner…outer, inner, outer…”
Out of the corner of your eye you could see the two unfastened buttons and the black lace border of her bra. If you had the nerve to shift your eyeballs you were staring straight at square inches of satiny fabric stretched over a tantalizing mound of succulent silky flesh. “Just look at the binomial. Are you looking…?” “Yes, yes…I see the bimammial…bimommial…binomial.”
I left algebra class babbling incoherently every day. (This is a large part of why I never became an engineer.)
I used to wonder just how many simmering cauldrons of hormones she had brought to a boil before she had to take flight across the ocean.
But that’s a digression. I wanted to talk about my English teacher. His avowed purose was to save enough money to buy a small island off the coast of Washington or Vancouver or some such place and live there. He had plans to build his own boat by hand and set sail at leisure. That was a long time ago and I don’t know what became of him. What I wanted to talk about though was his grading technique. He had devised a form of currency and printed it up in various denominations. Then he would “pay” you for work done in his class. A menu of tasks was issued and they would be worth appropriate amounts of his “money.” You provided the finished product, an essay or oral report, e.g, and he would count out the money at his desk, and pay you for your work. The students were responsible for securing the bills, and at the end of a grading period each student approached his desk and purchased a grade. We were told at the beginning of the year that if the money was lost or stolen that we were shit out of luck. It was also understood that if you had a friend with extreme wealth you could borrow enough to purchase a better grade. This was supposed to be a real life, and often cynical lesson about payment and responsibility. I doubt that he could have enforced all of his rules, but still it made for a different and interesting learning experience with a compelling incentive.
Do you have any teachers who were especially memorable or had unique teaching methods?