Sitting having lunch with Ginny, our 52 year old adopted daughter, we started talking about education and teachers that we had over the years. Although Ginny is not in education, she has worked for educational organization, written copious grants for educational organizations and has served on a school board. She will probably serve on another school board in the future.
We got into a discussion about great teachers that he had growing up and those that we really hated. Ginny described one such hateful teacher and I described another. She finds it hard to believe that her view of that “BAD” teacher has changed over the years. At the time, Ginny felt that this teacher was cruel, overbearing and lacking in the whole milk of human kindness. She realizes now that the teacher taught her a number of lessons and she still remembers many of the things that she learned in that class.
I described my 9th grade French teacher, Mr. C. He was probably the most overbearing person that I have met in education. He was a breathless talker and ran his class in the martinet manner. He brooked no interference from students, faculty members or principal. His class was his domain. Although his birth language was probably Italian or Spanish (I never found out which), he taught French as though he came from Paris.
His knowledge of French history and culture was overwhelming. His desire for us to become French speakers was, at least, dramatic. He spoke no other language in class and his desire for perfection made the anticipation of going to his class pretty traumatic. His goal was for all of us to pass the city wide French test and go on to French in high school and college. He was the first educator in my memory to encourage us to go to a foreign country and study there. He knew that if we mastered the language, we could go to the Sorbonne.
Was he a looney? I have no idea. Who was the teacher in L.A. who taught all of those kids math and made them such good math students that no one really believed his success story? Yes, we did do very well on the city wide French test and many of us did take French in high school and in college. His effect on us was probably more profound than we realized at the time and maybe not even until later in life.
However, I can still sing the songs that he taught us- La Seine, Le Roi de Boiveur, Margie ( in French), La Vie en Rose, and the Marseillaise. Was he a good teacher? You would never learn about such things in your methods classes in college, nor would you be especially proud if he were one of your teachers, when you were a school administrator. Somehow, we are wrong about such teachers and you know exactly what I mean.