Monday, May 01, 2006

I Turned Out OK I Guess

I think of myself as a reasonably intelligent guy. I did well in school, graduated 14th out of a class of over 400. I went to college, got a BA and a MA from a good school. My English is quite good and I can even spell. I have a good command of French and can manage a conversation in Spanish. I know the capital cities of all 50 States…yes even Dover, Delaware and Bismarck, North Dakota. My IQ is a mystery to me, but I am sure it is relatively high, definitely above the moron stage.

How did I get that way? It certainly was not due to a plethora of dedicated grade school and high school teachers. Most of them were morons. My dear friend David, my most faithful blog reader, and a man I have been proud to call a friend for (are you ready David) 43 years, shared some of the same teachers as I did. He turned out ok too….. must be in the water.

We had some doozies. Mrs. Kassoy (spellings of names may be a bit fuzzy after lo so many years) in 3rd grade loved to throw things at us, like erasers and chairs and books. She was a menace. My 4th grade teacher Mrs. Goforth, a kindly lady, spent most of her time telling us of the trip she won to Hawaii. As most of us had not been west of Denver, it was all fascinating to us. We learned little else, but heard all about the Hawaii. I had a 5th grade teacher (or maybe 6th, help me David) named Mrs. Dillie that lived up to her name as well. There was a well publicized cheating ring in 6th grade with the math teacher we had (a Mr. Stewart??? Don't remember, his name. He was a big fellow and my first male teacher)in which I think everyone participated.

The real losers were in Middle School as they called it then. Mrs. White, a science teacher, was hopelessly lost when it came to science. She was a Home Economics teacher forced into teaching science. We already knew more science than she did. Mrs. Ashley was an English teacher who was bizarre to say the least. She had an interesting way of speaking and complete lack of control of her class. “Neeer… Shut your teeth” she bellowed one day. Insane. There was another English teacher, whose name I forget (she made a huge impression) who just gave us reading assignments and let us be as she sat at the desk and looked bored.

Mrs. Morris was unique. She was a former college professor who for some reason ended up teaching Middle School science. We never asked why. Luckily, unlike Mrs. White, she actually knew some science. She thought we were college students and thus expected us to know more than we did. She was outgoing and always had us engaged in something. We did science projects including one of the first environmental projects, a neighborhood clean up. She was actually pretty good, when she remembered that we were 12 and not 22.

The most pathetic and the one I blame for my complete lack of understanding of math was Mr. Gilbert. He gave us spelling tests. We could not count, but we could spell. We would take a spelling test every day and had to spell the name of our city, our state and other words he thought we needed to know. He was mentally ill and blew his brains out a couple years later. Sad, but not unexpected. How he ever got to be a teacher was beyond me.

The vast majority were not standouts in any real way. They were neither enthusiastic motivators, nor insane idiots. They got us by.

I guess I had some good teachers, Mrs. North, Mrs. Greer, Mrs. Howard, Mr. Kirby, Mrs. Ogden, and Mrs. Chapman. These teachers expanded my mind, showed me new things, and gave me skills I still use today. We could use more like them today. Johnny could read if they were in charge.

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