A friend of mine teaches music from her home and said this about how she takes on the task:
I wrote back, “The teaching profession should adopt that as a manifesto.”
Really, it should be recited as an oath when accepting a teaching certificate. “Every morning,” I told her, “while their students recite the pledge of allegiance (It’s an American thing), teachers should repeat that oath under their breath.”
When thinking back to my school years, I excelled in the classrooms of teachers who followed such principles. I could pass any course in my sleep, but aimed for the top in courses taught by these teachers.
You’d think I hated math…well, I’m not fond of it, but every aptitude test I’ve taken suggests I’ve got a superb grasp of it. Physics was taught by a gawky young man who rode a unicycle through the school hallways, Mr. McLaughlin. He was an oddball of the first order, but I loved the guy, and he was as passionate about his students as he was physics. By the end of the school year, he had me taking on Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, using what I later learned were university textbooks. “What do you mean you were studying that in high school? That’s the text from my 3rd year physics course!” My geometry teacher, Mr. Alan, was about to give me a D.
I understand that says more about me than my teacher, Mr. Alan. I’m the student. It’s my job to learn. In university, where I finally figured out what was at stake, I buckled down and got the job done, despite some of the instructors. Excellence wasn’t determined by the quality of the teacher, but it sure made the job easier.
So, this is a personal thank-you to the teachers who guided and nurtured me, who reached my soul, touched it, then let it find its own course: Mr. Martin, Mr. McLaughlin, Miss Rouner, Miss Vincent, Mr. Bendix and Mr. Whiting. Mr. LeHoullier, I know realise how hard you tried; I’ll take full responsibility for not quite rising to the challenge.