Monday, August 3, 2015

Memories: High School Teachers.

It's important for everyone to find something they're passionate about. I have a few things that hold my fire, one of which was asked about on Twitter this morning. School. As a homeschooler myself, you can understand why the subject of school would be important to me. Today, a blogger friend of mine, +thewalkthruking, asked an open question on twitter. "Question of the day: How much is learned from school?" It seemed an innocent enough question, but it brought me back to my high school days and the inadequacy of  some of my teachers.

Example 1. I always did well in math, from the time I was little. Algebra and economics were a breeze, but when it came to 10th grade geometry, I was lost. Sadly, so was our teacher. He was a retired UPS truck driver and a wiz at most other kinds of math. Even in geometry, he could easily do the problem for you. Explaining how to do it ourselves, on the other hand, was a different matter. No one in our class understood his methods. After every student failed the first exam, that became painfully clear. In an effort to help us all pass our exams, he picks all of the algebraic problems from the books and made his own tests. Our geometry class that year consisted of re-learning Algebra II and memorizing the names of certain shapes.

Example 2. Senior year, my high school science teacher was having issues. Health issues. She rarely felt well. Though she spoke of her vast experience in athletics as a young girl, walking six miles both ways to school every day and competing around the world in swimming, she was now largely obese and forced to walk with a cane for her knees. We all understood she was in terrible pain. In previous years she'd been a wonderful teacher, but the year I had her, the pain and problems had affected her too much. She rarely came to class prepared for the lessons. What she knew of chemistry in the past was lost to her now. Unfortunately, her students were the ones who suffered. We learned nothing. Every test and quiz was taken open book, so there was no incentive to study in the least. There was no recompense for undone homework or low test scores. She was make exceptions for every situation. As long as her students passed her class, that was all she worried about.

I had a hunger to learn, as did several others in my class. We took our concerns to the guidance councilor, who offered us her office to study on our own. We taught ourselves science and literature, and later in senior year, math, during our free periods. We weren't required to participate in any sort of physical activity course and many of the seniors could come and go from school as they pleased. In my opinion, this was not a beneficial place of learning. The one saving grace was the woman who taught History and Spanish. She was an amazing woman with a passion for her students. She kept on top of her lessons, making that clear and simple though not easy. She required her classes to participate in projects and causes, took her government classes on field trips to local government functions, and helped us with individualized study tools. I can still remember the songs she taught us, and her flashcards are still tucked away in my box of memories. This woman is the reason I became a teacher. She is the reason I have my passion for teaching.

 Today's school systems are so lacking. Teachers with no passion. Students with no drive. Classes with no life. I thank God for the few good ones out there still inspiring and making a difference. If you are one of those reading right now, thank you.

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