Last week I read this post by Eva from The Multitasking Mummy about teachers and how they can help students to learn, just by being who they are. It got me thinking about the teachers that I had over the period of my schooling and the impact that they had on my schooling life. Then Kirsty asked us to share the subject we loathed at school and it was like the universe was colliding, in a good way this time.
I enjoyed school most of the time. When I wasn’t enjoying it, or being a punk to my teachers, I loved the distraction that it gave me. At least when I was at school I wasn’t wallowing in my room, thinking of ways to harm myself. However, in high school, the way that I felt about school changed dramatically.
I went from a student who would death stare my classmates if they caused the whole class to be kept in at lunchtime to one who regularly thumbed her nose at any kind of authority. I feel sorry for some of the teachers who had to deal with the surly teenager that I had become. I say some, because well, sometimes teachers reap what they sow.
We had a teacher in high school, who maybe would have been better suited elsewhere, away from impressionable teenagers. She was well known (and probably still is) for wearing underwear that weren’t quite suited to the clothes she wore, especially when one is a teacher to teenage boys. She managed to erode the love that I had for science away.
Not one student took her seriously. The lower end of the achieving scale bought into the rumours that were allowed to spread about her and the higher end thought she didn’t have the brain to teach science. She had a massive impact on me, and not in a positive way.
Her words are still burned in my mind, as if they were only said yesterday, not over 14 years ago. The inaction of the head of department cemented for me how much of an outsider I was seen as. I was the crazy kid, the one with the smart mouth but the addled mind. The one who was probably telling lies to get herself out of trouble. The one who’d already been kicking back against their authority.
Her words, said in spite, words that were nothing more than juvenile coming from the mouth of a 30 year old woman. The words cut through the very thin rope I was holding on to, they severed the last link in my self esteem. I was academically a good student, but with her words she had reduced me to the female stereotype.
I rebelled in school not because I was a teenager trying to find her place. Not because of any other reason imaginable. No. I rebelled because I was jealous of her, in her words, not because of her brain but because of the size written on her clothing tag. She had reduced everything I was feeling to something so shallow. That was the day I stopped giving a damn about the grades I got in her class, instead focusing on not letting an ounce of food pass my lips in her presence.
She had won. If a 14 year old girl and 30 year old woman could be considered opponents. If a teacher and a student should be pitted against each other in the appearance stakes. If how much a female weighed mattered. She won.
It’s sad that teachers seem to do this all the time…(given Emma’s post). Hopefully you renew your interest in science again…
That is really sad. My worst teachers simply didn’t care about the kids who weren’t getting it, but nothing as terrible and immature as that.
I did have a very flirty year 12 art teacher, and teachers who we had a few drinks at the pub with – one in fact that we continued having drinks at the pub with well into our twenties. Although probably not appropriate (we were of legal drinking age and they didn’t actually teach classes that we were in), I think back fondly on those particular people.
What a bi-arch! I had a teacher who made some snide comments to me in Year 12; they still sting 30 odd years later.
Oh no that’s terrible!!! How awful for you. I was lucky to have pretty awesome teachers – thankfully!!!
When we first moved to Perth my youngest first experienced not one but two old school style teachers. They were both nearing retirement and doing a job share agreement. I heard some kids say that it was the worst year of their life.
They were both the sort of teachers that thought they were there to teach kids a lesson rather than actually teach or nurture, if you can appreciate what I mean. Very old school, very strict and just so unnecessary in this day and age.
I remember waiting outside the door, on the one and only time I volunteered to help in the class, while the children were reprimanded with stern words for over twenty minutes because they couldn’t form a straight line. This was year 2. I can just imagine the negative impact they would have had on older children, especially if they were struggling in the first place.
From my experience, I honestly think that some teachers forget about how much of an impression they will have on a students life and that words and actions do stick and most often for a long time. I remember a teacher commenting about how I’d done my hair, it wasn’t a nice comment and to this day I remember exactly what she said and where I was and how much of a bitch she was for saying it. Thanks for sharing my post too. 🙂
That’s truly hideous Tegan. I hope teachers know the impact they have on their students – I know my husband does – and use it for good not for some cheap shot way of boosting their own self-esteem. Sounds like she had her own issues to deal with and should not have been allowed near impressionable teenagers in the first place.
Oh honey, I could have written this myself 🙁 Except mine was a butt-ugly ex-nun with bad hair and bottle top glasses. I grew up to be a sooo much better person than she’ll ever be.
It pains me to read these stories about my profession…I can only say that as a teacher I tried to work by the following quote in mind “They may not remember what you taught them but they will remember how you made them feel”…. I hope that I have made all the students who have crossed my path feel great.