I read an interesting book recently called They Called Me Teacher, by Tom Melchior.
It contains stories of Minnesota country school teachers and students from 1913 to 1960. Those stories run the gamut of human interaction, but one that has to do with bad teaching sticks in my mind.
Corrine Lesteberg Johnson, who attended District 40 East near Murdock in Swift County, from 1931-1938, wrote it.
“We all knew that our second-grade teacher had never lived in the country. So we had a feeling that she thought she was better than the rest of us. I started at Christmas time making valentines. We had a long Christmas vacation, six weeks off, so what was there to do during that time but make valentines. I loved that kind of creative stuff.
“I used foil from the Christmas cards and the laced doilies that my mother had bought. I made the cards so they were three-dimensional, you could open them up. Oh, I really worked on those cards. On Valentine’s Day I passed out all my beautiful cards. I made a special one for my teacher.
“At the end of the school day after everybody had looked at their valentines but before school was even out, my teacher opened the door to the furnace and threw all the valentines into the fire, including my beautiful card. That really hurt me. I had worked so hard on that valentine. If she didn’t want to keep them, why didn’t she wait until we had all gone home? Then I never would have known. I never really had a lot of respect for that teacher after that. It broke my heart. I cried all the way home.”
|Noah and Malika with their cousin, Brooke, playing school|
in the old Brownsville School House.
We probably all have had experiences with bad teachers, but that lady would have to top the list.
It got me to thinking about other bad teaching experiences. I still remember one when I was in second grade. I was playing with scissors, pretending to cut my nose. The scissors could barely cut paper; let alone something as tough as my nose. The teacher wasn’t in the room, but she found out (thanks to a student who shall remain anonymous), strode over to me, and slapped me across the face.
I was shocked and embarrassed, as was the whole class. It was just plain wrong, totally unnecessary. Bad teaching.
My brother had a bad teacher one year. He recounted a couple experiences. “We were taking turns reading from some book and I was nervous about my turn coming up. When it came to be my turn I stood up and I stuttered the first word, something like p-p-p-p- and the teacher sat at her desk and did the same thing, p-p-p-p-p. Can you believe it? She really embarrassed me and all the kids had a good laugh. Another time, I had to give a report of some kind and the cap on my front chipped tooth had come off. I walked up to her desk and asked her I could do the report another day. She refused my request and made me stand in front of the class with my missing tooth and give the report. Mark it down as another humiliating day for me.”
A teacher friend of mine had this tale: “We were seated based on latest test score with the best in the front right, weaving to the worst in the back left. Can you imagine how that affected a child’s willingness to learn? Wow!”
Public humiliation is never a good thing.
|Malika and some classmates |
in an all school production.
It’s funny though, I can’t recall many truly bad teachers or things like this. That’s a testament to the fact that most of my teachers did a good job, something I still believe is the case.