As I reread my earlier post, “A wry look at busy, busy doctors” (aka “How to be a rotten doctor”), it made me think of a much earlier draft which was called “How to be a rotten teacher” instead.
IRONY is when you have a terrible college lecturer who is allegedly teaching you a subject about how people communicate. Here was a man who loved the sound of his own voice – was so mesmerized by it, in fact, that as he paced back and forth at the front of the room, never did his eyes meet those of any student, never did he take a second to see how we were reacting, never did he ask if we had any comments or questions. If anyone did interrupt him, they would receive a deadly glare and a sneer such as “Did you not follow what I said? What’s wrong with you?”
But the man who took the prize for Humiliation of Student was the pompous high-school ‘teacher’ who actually yelled at a boy – in front of his 30 classmates – “You! You’re nothing but a biological error!” I’m pretty sure the ‘teacher’ lost patience with him because the kid was, in many ways, smarter than he was, daring even to correct him sometimes. Can’t have that, can we? Perish the thought! After all, whoever said the main goal of school was education?
I don’t care how annoyed a teacher gets. There is NO excuse for humiliating a student. None. You’re bigger than that.
By far my own worst experience at being the butt of a teacher’s degradation of a student happened when I was a mere six years old. I ran into the classroom at 9:00 a.m., breathless, about 10 seconds after the “late bell” rang. In the regimentation of 1951 schools, that bell meant you were to be seated at your desk, hands folded. I forget why I was late, and this was the first (and last!) time it ever happened. But I was the unlucky recipient of The Glare. The teacher, a white-haired woman who – up until now had really liked me – suddenly was the picture of quivering anger. I can still see her standing there, hands on hips, lips twitching, staring daggers at me.
She made me, a little moppet, stay after class. I was terrified, alone, everyone gone but her and me. She thrust a pail of water and a rag at me and ordered me to clean the desks. Which had age-old graffiti carved into them. In ink. Which of course wouldn’t come off. It was a scene right out of Oliver.
Luckily I had loving parents at home who helped counter this and other such unpleasantries encountered in our lovely school system. I trust things are better now and that rotten teachers are a thing of the past!