A learned fool is more a fool
Mr Clarke had the unenviable task of being my ‘Form Tutor’ in my last two years at senior school. Mr Clarke, an undeniably smart man, only taught the top two years. Those that ostensibly really wanted to learn his subject. English Literature. We, being witty as well as bright called him ‘Forsooth Verily’ by dint of his superbly Shakespearian air made more acute by the fashions at the time … softest suede desert boots that made no sound, not even a whisper, as he glid across the high-polished wood floors, velvet jacket fitted to his slender form and what here in France they would call a ‘foulard’ of embroidered cheesecloth casually draped around his neck. His beard was deliberately bard there is no doubt. He had the delight of teaching me and the double wham bam no thank you mammy of being in charge of what would these days be called my ‘Pastoral Care’. It is fair and truthful to own up at this point in my too rapidly ageing life, that I was a handful. Twice a day, at it’s start and finish, the group of us that formed Tutor Group 6SB congregated in the library, for this was his domain. This was his exhalted place. This was his book-lined empire. We did our prep, we swatted for exams, sometimes he led a discussion, sometimes we rehearsed an assembly. I say ‘we’ but I might reasonably admit that I had a habit of being less than engaged with the process. One fine afternoon he asked me to please, for goodness sakes please, concentrate on the work in hand and added that I was ‘vacuous’. This provoked an inevitable barrage of ‘what does that mean, sirs’ from the tiresome object that was me. He suggested, quite reasonably that I might look it up in the dictionary. These vast volumes lined the bottom shelf of his cave and I remember sitting cross legged finding the correct tome. Quite askance I read the all too obvious definition. He of course implied that I was ‘as a vacuum’ …. absolutely bugger all going on in my head. Mr Clarke was a very smart man. So acutely embarrassed and humiliated was I that my reset button was pressed toute de suite. Later that summer I would open the envelope with my all-important A-Level exam results and be really proud of what I had achieved rather than quietly ashamed of wasting what ability I had. Thank you Mr Clarke. You sealed my future with your withering remark. You made me face the fact that given the gift of something of an intellect, it is honestly the height of fatuous rudeness not to at least try to use it wisely.
I give you this little story as my offering for the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge ‘Dense’ of which you can find all the suitably solid entries here. My picture, taken on Sunday on la Crête de la Molière, seemed rather apt – the dense cloud trying it’s hardest to mask the snow covered Massif de Belledonne, the tree who has seen it all before, now old and weathered, battered and broken but stripped though it is, it still stands sentinel surveying it’s realm.
PS: I remember in my salvo of protests asking Mr Clarke if he was actually and really telling me I was dense. He replied that he most certainly was not. For density implies that there is a good deal of matter in the cranial caverty and he rather prefered to leave me in no doubt that there was nothing between my ears whatsoever. Stinging. Really it was stinging.
The quote is from Molière’s ‘Les Femmes Savantes’: ‘a learned fool is more foolish than an ignorant one.’ I would postulate that this is inarguable and that if we are to be learnèd we would do well to use our learning wisely throughout our days. Even those jolly days of miscreant behavior before we step blinking into the light and have to be vaguely growed-up.
What a vacuum ! Masculine-feminine, too complex hey ? “La” crête de la Molière, and “les femmes savantEs” ., Obviously you lacked of a second Mr Clark for non-English literature .
Pleasant story from a gentlewoman as always . Even nicer I’d say .
Thank you for being my French Literature teacher, Phil! I sure as heck need it …. but I promise, I do absorb everything you say (and I diligently correct too) and I remain your rather dense and but hopefully no longer vacuus friend!!
Don’t hurry . After all Buddhism tells us that vacuity is the way to nirvana, and Molière tells us that “un sot savant est sot plus qu’un sot ignorant” .:wink:
BTW now when I click on “like” nothing happens, a complette vacuum .
I wonder can teachers nowadays get away with being quite so blunt? You should read my school reports, much the same thing. My teacher I remember the most sounded similar but certainly lacked the flair when it came to dressing! So I have rummaged around and found my report books of old, three reports a year from age 6 to 18 all contained in two blue books, I was lucky enough to go the same school my entire life! So English Literature my last two years, it was not pretty reading! But one comment stood out above all the rest at the end of the summer term “I feel Susan is capable of so much more if only she would concentrate and remain focus, I feel most of the time her body is in the classroom and her head is away somewhere else.” I was obviously planning horse shows and ponies and anything rather than Silas Marner and A Midsummer Night’s Dream!!
A girl after my own heart. Isn’t dreaming about ponies so much more rewarding than blasted Titania!! But I do thank Mr Clark (who is still alive and seems to keep a portrait in his attic) …. he shoved me in the right way (and no, he would not be allowed to be so blunt now I am certain) at the right time and although I continued to bump and blunder I did at least have very good A level results to open the odd door for a couple of years before one’s work record supercedes academic records. xx
So much more rewarding and it was summer, who wants to be in a classroom in the summer. I had an ok result. I was lucky I landed a fantastic job in London that didn’t need anything to do with English Lang or Lit! But utilised my maths and knowledge of horses; bloodstock insurance with Lloyds! I was in heaven!!
No such thing as luck … it’s when preparation and opportunity converge – and your maths was more important than juggling sonnets and analysing Austen so there was your preparation. I, on the other hand, got unclassified in my maths O level twice so the English was rather vital!!
I remember absolutely nothing about reports and teachers comments. Nothing. My mother had a very breezy attitude to official papers—she diligently threw them all out. She threw everything away, books, drawings, school reports, the lot. I’m glad in a way. They probably wouldn’t have been as colourful as your comments 🙂
My absolute favourite was my Religeous Knowledge teacher who wrote when I was 16 ‘Osyth is an intelligent girl who clearly thinks she is so intelligent she need not do any work’ … I have kept a little of my childrens’ lives but not all of it. I think it is hard to get it right … chuck it, hoard it, whatever you do in the end it changes nothing.
I’m still alive, my teachers can’t ‘get’ me any more for not doing homework or whatever, so no, it doesn’t change anything at all. Your RE teacher’s remark is very similar to the remarks of all my son’s teachers.
This is so interesting. Such different educational systems. I went to a high school (lycée) that was terrible–full of drugs and gangs. Somebody was stabbed right in front of me (and lived). Expectations were so low. I did go to university, and did very, very well on the entrance exams, I always had low expectations for myself, yet always did 200% for everything. In fact, the thing that drives me to distraction is that my child doesn’t have this ambition and drive, despite a lack of expectation that anything will come of it.
Oh make no mistake, British schools in many areas are horrible places. Inner London, Manchester, Liverpool, Tyne and Wear, Glasgow – all very very rough. Parts of Cornwall too. My husband is from a very poor background in Liverpool and credits his mother sending the rented TV back when he was approaching his 11+ (the exam that dictated whether you went to Grammar or Secondary Modern back then – that would be Lycée or College here) because he wasn’t working hard enough at his homework. He passed and went to Grammar, an excellent Grammar. He says if he had failed that exam he would have been condemned to leaving school at 16 and going to work on the docks and lucky if he had escaped a life of crime. I’m interested in your son. My stepson is extraordinarily indolent and lacks his father’s drive. I wonder if it skips a generation. Or I wonder if somehow we make it too easy for them having striven for everything we have. I say we, I mean my husband really … the boot is on the other foot with me – I had the silver spoon but circumstances left me bringing my four girls up on my own with no financial support from their fathers and an expectation that at 18 willy-nilly they had to get on with it. They are all doing well in their own ways and though not without their tribulations for me, all support themselves.
Nice story! I’ve little doubt you will use your learning wisely!
The wisest of all was my headmistress who when my mother was tearing her hair out said ‘we all have to test the boundaries some time. Best she does it here and doesn’t wait til later when there is no safety net’ ….
It always amazes how a few words can change a person so completely. Every once in a while someone, a child, a friend, will say you know you said this and because of that I did that. It is almost frightening to think of that kind of power so innocently wielded.
So true, Bernadette and I do think that if some of the so called great and good of this world were a little more cautious with their rhetoric rather than just belting it out for effect we might have a chance of bringing everyone together rather than ever-increasing the fissure.
Especially POTUS with his Tweets. Really someone needs to take his phone away from him.
Oh I would have that out of his hand and smashed under my foot in a whisper. Of course I would be guillotined or sent to the tower or whatever the equivalent is in the US but how satisfying to shut his inappropriate drivel up!
It’s amazing how reverse psychology still works:)
Damn our good teachers and parents fir using ut:)
I should never attempt to type at happy hour 🙄
I will take this as a lesson on what NOT to do in my future career in education. I’m still young (in the field) and idealistic but think a positive approach is more the way to go. Cheers!
I am absolutely sure that is right in most cases …. I have a policy of being kind and nice (maybe as a result of the vacuous sting, who knows) …. this was 1978 and these days Mr Clark would be disciplined and probably give up teaching as a result which would have been a travesty. But these days Mr Clark would have received a rather different training before he was let loose on small groups of supposedly interested pre-university students!
He probably would be fired for assaulting the student’s ego of today.. Then dragged off to civil court for emotional and psychological damages.. I would thank him profusely if I could, for the part he played in building the one and only Osyth..
They call it progress … I don’t. I know he did the right thing. I know I needed deflating. I know it helped me.
Please bear with me 💛 Because children and young adults are being cheated and it’s a thorn in my side. I have 3 links that help express my distraught over the seemingly endless approaches to “alternative methods” in teaching.. Not that all of them are bad but some are dangerously lowering educational standards that leave grads behind in deductive reasoning and applying creative thinking to the real world..
The following link has some well thought out and written rebuttals to the article in the comment section..And the comments defending the article are eye openers in how they fail to give a reasonable defense.. Btw, I failed algebra ! But carried a straight A in Geometry..
I could’ve gone back and tackled algebra but didn’t.. That was my choice.. I’m glad I was subjected to sit thru and struggle with it because I did learn some deductive reasoning in the process of failing the course..
When I have to “do the math” for a cashier that is stuck because the register went down, it makes me angry at the education system, not the cashier.. Most have cheat cards that are supposed to make calculating tax, foolproof.. Doesn’t work when the person using it and a calculator fails to follow the directions.. And what’s worse is when I figure it in my head, show them on paper and still have to wait for them to get assistance.. I understand the cashier doesn’t want to depend on a customer’s math but its so annoying.. In chitchat while waiting if I happen to pick up a clue that they’re a college student, I just bite my tongue..
A favourite adage of mine is ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ …. the perpetual need to fiddle with things and experiment is unacceptable in education when the laboratory rats are real live young people who only get one shot at being taught. I will take time out to read your links and thank you for sharing your very valid and pertinent thoughts. ❤️
I appreciate creative techniques when they don’t diminish understanding a lesson or formula.. I do have a problem with shortcuts that result in doing just that..
Alleged right to free speech and social indoctrination are other things I see poisoning the pursuit to pass along knowledge to the next generation.. Unpleasant hot button topics, I know, but I see in the handling, they are integral parts too, in the dumbing down of a nation.. Just my opinion.. 🙃
100% agree. Alas .
Hard to disagree if you have a modicum of sense, I think ….
Sound opinions … though some would argue, I would argue that they would have to manipulate well to appear to have credence.
A delightful story delightfully written, to be tautological. I am also wondering if a teacher would dare utter a remark of that nature in today’s classroom. To be frank, I am teaching my students (future teachers) to be scrupulously polite and unfailingly correct, i.e. politically correct, in order to cover their own behinds and protect the school from possible law cases.
You were so lucky to have had a teacher who not only had the wit to do it, but also the uncensored ability.
I am certain the answer is no. Mr Clark would be disciplined today, there is no doubt. And yet what did he do? I was 18 years old. I was able. I had potential and yet I was wilfully burning it by playing to the gallery and being the buffoon. He picked his moment and then made a pithy remark. But he didn’t leave it there …. when I asked what the word meant, he had me look it up, when I asked if he meant I was (actually the word I would have used was thick but I used dense for the purposes of the piece) his closing remark left me in no doubt that I was not, as I thought, being impressive, but rather that I was presenting as an airhead. He knew me well. I come from a family of academic high-achievers and his remark served to make me rethink and rebalance. I guess the hardest thing for any teacher is to be able to judge the student they are dealing with …. where the positive switches are in each individual. I do not envy you but I certainly respect you for teaching new teachers. It is the most vital of roles.
Mr Clark was a brilliant teacher, no doubt. In some way, the image you have created in your story reminds me of another brilliant teacher, the prototype of a character played by late Robin Williams in “Dead Poet Society.”
I love teaching, and it just happened so that among many courses I’ve had to teach throughout my career, one of my two all-time favorites is Educational Psychology. I don’t know that I deserve any special respect for doing my job and enjoying what I do, but I thank you for your kind comment!
Oh you do deserve special respect – those that know me know how I feel about teachers. The good, the bad, the indifferent and the down right stinkers. I would like to meet the person who was the inspiration for ‘Dead Poet Society’ …. one of my all time favourite films. Keep doing what you do. I say chapeau to you 🙂
Thank you for the chapeau. “Dead Poet Society” is one of my favorites as well. Another one is “Up the Down Staircase.” I show excerpts of both in class.
I don’t you that well, but the more I find out, the more I like!
Chapeau earned and I am entirely delighted that you have slighted in my world or me in yours – lets settle on a democratic one another’s! You are right up my street and into my living room!!
Mutual Admiration Society! Although, following the tradition of Russian intellectuals, I’d love to welcome you in my kitchen.
P.S. Democracy is vastly overrated.
Just had the Democracy conversation with my youngest daughter … agreed! Kitchens work so much the better and Russian kitchens will always scratch an itch with me 🙂
American cliche regarding the U.S. being structured along the lines of Plato’s “Republic” never fails to amuse. I don’t think most of those who proclaim it have ever read Plato, especially the parts about women or slaves, or the need to divulge only selective information to the populace. Some democracy!
Russian kitchen – why? What is your connection with Russian kitchens? I am a curious cat, you know!
Ha! Of course they haven’t read it. It just sounds very grown up and intelligent to say ‘we are modelled on Plato’s Republic’. The fact is that much of what he expounded would make the average American (or Brit, or Frenchman’s) toes curl! But we live in a soundbite society, one where spitting out the bits you want to and glossing over the rest, or more likely hearing something that sounds about right and repeating it like a Polly parrot is more and more the norm. Russia? I can’t remember a time when it hasn’t fascinated me – my father sowed the seeds. I studied Russian in my last 6 years of school, I have a passion for much of the literature, the culture, the core culture which includes the food and the relationship to food and family, the soul. The Russian Soul is much written of and it is particular and it appeals to me, sits comfortably with me. We have many Russian friends through my husband’s work. He takes a PhD student from Moscow every year – they typically spend three years with him. One of his past students and his wife are coming to stay with us here at the start of May. Sergey is now on his way to being a full professor. It turned out he loves to teach. Trying to define the why is a little like asking me why I love being outside. It just feels right. But in the case of Russia, there is also the pain and hardship – it’s very vastness contributing to its inability to even begin to have a fair system of government. Much. Far too much for me to ever do anything but scratch the bear and hope not to irritate it!
Oh, the mysterious Russian Soul, Dostoevsky and Rimsky-Korsakov, and the landscapes by Isaac Levitan who was Jewish, so his friend the great humanist Chekhov wouldn’t let his sister marry the great Russian artist of the wrong ethnicity. That’s the mysterious Russian Soul for you!
I tend to think that it’s the communal mentality, rather than the size of its territory, that prevents Russians from having any form of government other than Asiatic Despotism, as defined by Lenin (not one of my favorite sources to refer to, but in terms of general definitions, he was usually on point).
Curious again: what is your husband’s field, if it’s not a secret?
One can only hope that things have moved a tiny bit since Chekhov’s era …. as far as mentality goes – I would love, above many things, but not all, to spend real time in the country, immersed and open to trying to understand how a vast collective can get it so gobsmackingly wrong in terms of governing either with or without choice. My husband is an Astrophysicist – he will tell you he’s a one trick pony and a global leader in a very small pond. I will tell you that I pinch myself every day that someone with his intellect can possibly be interested in me.
I am afraid that since Chekhov’s, Kuprin’s, and Bunin’s times, things have moved from implied and understated to openly hostile, but hostility to “otherness” truly is a feature of that mysterious Russian Soul. Part of it comes from high context mode of communication which necessitates communal, rather than individual thinking. Another factor (in my opinion!) is that, as Prince Vladimir declared a thousand years ago, “The joy of Russia is drinking.” What could be expected of people whose collective brain has been pickled in alcohol for a thousand years? We are not talking about the intellectual elite that constitutes such a small minority as to be almost negligible and, more likely than not, has mixed ethnicities, i.e. “fresh blood,” in its midst.
As to your pinching, although it might be good for your complexion, a wise Rabbi once remarked that a person is no more allowed to put himself down, than do it to others. Follow Miss Manners – accept compliments graciously!
That puts Russia in the same pot as Scotland and Ireland and makes more than a modicum of sense! I wonder what you make of l’Esprit Français par contre? As for Miss Manners … believe me my shackles are my English Upper Berth birth … self deprecation is the default and whilst one is allowed to smile, nod and accept graciously with one’s public face, one is equally hardwired to making derogatory remarks about self. It’s a work in progress ….
As to l’Esprit Français, as an American citizen, I shall exercise my right to remain silent – I am taking the fifth! (Am I allowed to attempt to be politically correct once in a while?)
Interesting point about the English Upper Class mentality; I have never realized that dichotomy and will have to look into it. I thank you for providing a topic to research.
Happy hunting … it’s quite the minefield and perhaps unexpected as we are supposed to be the ultimate silver spoon …
Or so you believe… No offense meant, but then, I am an equal opportunity offender.
I am too – being born with the spoon doesn’t preclude one from defending equal rights. Equal. Not more for one nor another. Not by dint of colour, nor race, not by dint of sex nor sexuality, not by dint of class. That is where I stand fair and square. My husband is from the City of Lennon and is a ‘Working Class Hero’ – we tick with the same heart, beat to the same drum. But it is surprising the chains that bind an upper class English woman, probably more surprising than those that bind a working class Liverpool boy 🙂
I am all for equal rights, as long as they come with equal responsibilities. Sadly, nowadays equal rights are mostly equated with equal entitlement. Not knowing many particulars, I would venture to say that an upper class person in any country would be restricted in some ways, to a degree specific to given culture. It is a strong desire to move up from lower classes that rends chains. I was also born with a silver spoon, albeit in a so-called classless society which was a myth from day one. However, the “useless middle,” the intellectual elite, was in reality not only extremely useful, but essential. If it weren’t for the discrimination and persecution, Jewish intellectuals in communist Russia would’ve never achieved the prominence in sciences, arts, and culture that characterizes this non-existent class. It is a survival skill, almost Darwinian.
Agreed on every point 🙂 Just don’t ever get me started on entitlement. Work hard and bin the ego are the best pieces of advice I have ever received. Many times.
Same here, but with a little extra. Silver spoons notwithstanding, academic and professional excellence was a condition of survival for Jews in communist Russia. It was drilled into us from early childhood. There was an admission quota into colleges and universities based on ethnic origins, so we had to beat stiff competition.
Harsh at the time, I have no doubt but the silver lining would surely be that learning to give of your best at an early stage in life leaves one with no doubt that hard work and application are essential to success. I am glad you succeeded.
Thank you, and you are right, of course. I had no choice but to succeed.
If only I had teachers like that, if only. I would now relish that manipulation of my spirit when it would have done the most good.
All these years later, I realise how fortunate I was. Good teachers are born not made, in my opinion and the great ones are not concerned with pigeon-holing and forcing a fit and political correctness (though these days Mr Clark would probably be arrested), no the great teachers find a way to communicate. At the time I stung. But I strove never to be perceived as vacuous again!
Then he did his job well.
Bless those teachers who changed our course (pun not intended) and make us scurry to the dictionary. I held a protest in a library once when I was 14. I, too, was a handful.
Curious photo of the half-tree. Is it half dead or half alive? And is the answer to that an indicator of personality type? So many questions to ponder and none of them learned. I am occupied with trivia! Am I vacuous or dense and is the answer to that question an indicator of personality type?
Thank you, O, for the existential journey down memory lane!
I thought of saving that picture for a different post … it is, you see entirely alive but has had all its furry arms lopped off, I suspect to improve the view. The French infuriate me with their obsession with ‘pollarding’ trees (I being a bit of a wild and natural girl which may explain the difficulty I had conforming at school) and this one I think was a different kind of victim. Up there, in a wild place , it was entirely wrong to have broken it. But then again, perhaps it really was the wind …. half full, me, half full every time. Chin-chin and than you for your comment which has me pondering further as all good words should!
What an amazing photograph, and a lovely story. A story we can all relate too. I’m quite the air head myself, and its getting emptier by the minute.
A vacuous fellow a fellow vacuous one. Welcome … the air is clear and bright in here, Arby!
I never ever dreamt of horses, ponies or anything else that could bite my head off or toss me in the air and crush me underfoot! I always had my head in a book or a tranny to my ear (tranny, you will recall perhaps was a miniature radio not today’s usage!) and loved Eng. Litt. more than anything in the world, except Paul McCartney. My daughter, on the other hand, had her wall covered in pictures of horses, had riding lessons, and at age 11 was promptly thrown onto a boulder, breaking her arm in two places, dislocating her elbow and still suffering the consequences to this day. It put paid to any musical ambitions she might have had. I wish I had passed my antipathies onto her when I had the chance. And this comment is so far off topic, feel free to delete!
I loved horses. Was brought up in Berkshire – I think it may be compulsory 😉 But literature and words were and are my abiding passion. Nothing, not even a horse, can beat the joy of sitting behind the curtains on the window seat with the rain beating the glass and immersing in the pages of a book. Of course I won’t delete you – I’m Madame Discursive so off point is on point much of the time. I am extremely sorry your daughter wrecked her arm. Music, like books outlives any horse. 🐴
Oh my, teachers do have a way about them. Laughed at the clarifier that you are not dense because that implies matter. Ha, he had a sense of humor too.
He was so dry he literally crackled. Of course, I adored him which is why his remark and the brilliant follow-up qualifier effected me so deeply. Genius comes in many disguises 🙂
A vacuum! Quite an informative and enlightening post as usual Osyth, you always bring a smile to my face. Thanks dear. 🙂
Designed to smile this time. I try to balance the more profound and deep moments with plenty of light-heartedness otherwise I would disappear into my own abyss of sorrow and that would be most unfair to people kind enough to read what I write. Balance is what I seek though I don’t expect I achieve it. Hear’s a rainbow just for you my dearest friend 🌈
A beautiful rainbow – just like you! 🙂
I’ve had that song …. Dorothy’s Anthem in my head all day …. I send it to you 🤗
Jumped over from the Senior Salon
BEAUTIFULLY written, Osyth, and charmingly funny, but you and I couldn’t be more different where school is concerned. I loved English and adored Shakespeare. Horses? Not in the slightest! None of my teachers, however, were nearly as colorful as Forsooth Verily until college & grad school.
If it hadn’t been for my top-notch English and writing scores on the SAT (entrance exams here in the US) to counter-balance my miserable math scores, I probably wouldn’t have been admitted to college anywhere at all.
I’ve learned since I suffer from Dyscalculia – my brain doesn’t grok numbers much at all. I can barely make it through what I call “dinner math” with the correct total – how much is my share, and what is the tax and tip? I’m sure it would have been caught if I’d spent more than a year in a single school before I hit High School (9,10,11,12th grades). I think the schools all thought I was having trouble “adjusting” to so many moves and by the time anybody noticed I was struggling I was gone! HATED math classes – tho’ geometry wasn’t half bad.
I absolutely panicked before I took the GRE (for grad school) when I found out that they took points AWAY for wrong answers. I freaked out so badly that I called in sick for the first one and had to reschedule my test date. Fortunately, a large part of the math section happened to be logic on my test, in which I was relatively decent. My scores were just high enough to get me admitted on probation for the first semester, mostly because the director of the troupe pulled for me because wanted me for the semi-pro graduate acting company.
I got a 4.0 in grad school – so much for those darned tests!
However, if it weren’t for being forced to take statistics, I would have loved going back for a Ph.D. in one the neuro-fields. And my “number-lexia” always makes me feel stupid, even though I’m clearly not.
(Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
“It takes a village to transform a world!”
Oh, you misunderstand. Literature and words were and still are my passion. I just preferred to wear a comedy suit to make myself acceptable. Lots of issues there probably for a different conversation. As far as Maths goes …. my father was a Nuclear Physicist, my brother aced maths and sciences and then there was me. I got unclassified (which is below markable) in my O level (which is the first major public exam you took in Britain now superseded by GCSE at 16+) so my father had me privately tutored since in his mind it must have been the teaching that was at fault. A year later, I resat and achieved another Unclassified. To his death it was unwise to mention my name and Maths in the same breath … he never came to terms with it! Ironically until I was 14 I was top of the class …. no problems with arithmetic and basic mathematics at all but when algebra entered the arena with letters and numbers mixing I was blind to it. Still am. And I married a Harvard Astrophysics Professor 😂 Give me words and I have wings, show me maths and I am a cringing fool. Welcome to my world!
Twins! 🙂 I had my own comedy suit to fit in every year, always “the new kid.” I hit the wall and fell apart totally at Algebra II-Trig for a similar reason – but primarily because it was the first class I had to figure out the number portions and answer in anything besides words, for the most part. (The teacher was an absolute “w”itch as well, which didn’t help.)
Traveling ’round the country as we did, I just happened to hit each school as they were in the debut period for the SMSG program (School Mathmatics Study Group). No numbers, all concepts – set theory. Like I said, logic made perfect sense to my brain.
Every new school tended to believe I was likely to be an under-performing math genius, since I was always the first in the class to grasp the concepts. duh! I also made a “translation chart” for desk work, so I could move from “base 10” to “base 8” etc. without having to convert each time. Copying to an answer sheet accurately was enough of a challenge! Numbers might as well be Sanskrit – so easy to “see” them incorrectly.
My mother was *certainly* no slouch intellectually, but my father was what many refer to as “a rocket scientist” (sent the first mouse in space), with every advanced engineering degree offered (including nuclear). He was truly brilliant across the board — except where social skills and understanding kids were concerned, of course! He was positive I simply stopped studying and needed to work harder (Stopped? I never really started, actually but I was not an idiot so I kept my mouth shut about that little detail).
Reading literature, etc. I never considered “homework” – and it was practically the only type I ever did. Most of the history books were deadly dull, so they were skimmed quickly, I took great notes in class, and regurgitated appropriately enough to show up well enough for my father — who really only would have been happy with straight A’s every time, of course! (I got restricted for Cs)
A tutor surely would have figured out my problem, but I’m not sure what anybody knew what to DO about it back then – or if what they do now is particularly effective with that particular category of learning disability.
I had a conversation with another reader yesterday about underachieving children of overachieving parents …. I think it is incredibly hard for a mega-intellect such as your father’s to grasp that it might not always be so straightforward and I think that for the child there can be a fear of making a fool of themself. As for the tutor … he was head of Maths at our local boys public (in the US that would be private) school, wore nylon trousers and shirt into which he sweated almost audibly whatever the season and consequently smelled stale and sour. I never really got past those personal details and there was no hope that he would move me into the realms of rocket science!!!
It’s difficult for me to believe that *anyone* who learned a subject easily really understands how and where students struggle or get stuck — even with training. Give me the one who struggled before they eventually figured it out – every time!
I believe most of us can learn just about anything eventually if the circumstances are right and the instruction is tailored and ongoing – but folks like us can’t accommodate audible sweating (lol), idiot teachers and disappointed parents – and we carry that backlog forward.
It’s even worse if we are highly intelligent or gifted – the assumption is always that we will be equally brilliant at ALL things, with challenges generally thought of as not trying hard enough or “wanting to” badly enough.
You speak straight to my heart. Thank you. There are many like us. Too many. Assumption is of course one of the roots of evil, in my opinion. Far to easy to assume and move on rather than actually take the time to work out an individual situation nor yet be humble enough to admit you might not be the person to fix it but rather to apply your intelligence to finding the best fit. I have four daughters. All of them are very very bright but only one was branded academically gifted. My gift to all of them is to always remember that they are each unique, gifted and brilliant and to remind them of that fact. Confidence (not over-confidence just plain old air in your tyres confidence) is the greatest gift of all when applied to oneself. One day, I’ll learn it for me! Xx
You and I are remedial self-esteem students – lol. It’s SO much easier to build self-confidence in those who haven’t yet been shredded! Also very healing (and I think we get extra credit).
Assumption and the love of money are tied for that dubious honor.
Happy to be in this special class with you! I think greed takes gold every time 😔xx
Ditto – fool’s gold, right?
As a reaction to our back and forth I went back to find an old post I am going to share on next Wed’s Senior Salon that talks about how it happens that self-esteem gets dinged unfairly [Expectations Mismatches & Moon Men]. Wouldn’t have recalled it otherwise, so THANKS!
You can guarantee I’ll be reading that 🙂 xx
I’m sure it will be nothing NEW to you – but maybe a few new ways of thinking about it. 🙂
What a finely drawn portrait. I suspect we were not so dissimilar back in the day. This story reminds me of my Grade 13 high school math teacher who observed that I skulked around at the bottom of the class, content so long as I was not the absolute dunce. This spurred me on to get an A in his class, however much I detested the subject. He also taught philosophy, a subject I adored, which may be why I took his words to heart. Perhaps we are like your tree — it reminds me of a rocket — poised for take off but happily and fully anchored in this earth.
I suspect we were similar … too cool for school but still wanting to get the grades. That was me although I really did my best to mask the need to achieve. Maths eluded me but Literature and words were always my passion. I think we have taken backwards steps since those days …. now teachers tread on eggshells and are scared to cross the moving line of political correctness. I do not approve of bullying but I do think that without the teachers who pushed me, I would have continued to skulk and/or play to the gallery in an effort to blend and be accepted.
Wonderful story, and yes–sometimes it’s the people who most cut us to the quick who do us the biggest favors.
Thanks for the spelling “learnèd”–where has it been all my life?? I wandered off to verify it–difficult in France, with my Oxford English Dictionary sitting in my ex’s basement on the other side of the Atlantic. However, I came across this:
…and this looks fun (on some definition of “fun” that probably explains why I’m 55 years old and single):
Political correctness dictates that teachers can’t ‘cut’ us anymore but I know that the hardest moments in my life have been the most helpful. I am very upset about your OED …. books should be exempt from break-ups. I speak from the heart …. Now off to immerse in the links you have sent – I used the accent to leave the reader in no doubt as to how I wanted the word pronounced. But I’m sure there is an element of correctness in it somewhere ….
What a great story! Teachers impact us, both in kindnesses and patience, and in insults.
In 10th grade, my math teacher caught me passing notes (probably about boys, not math) to a fellow student. He grew angry and called me a “stupid Pollak.” It was a derogatory ethnic epithet — and I wasn’t even Polish. My maiden name had led him astray — and I wanted to tell him that he was the stupid one.
I got my revenge by never taking another math class, even though it was one of my strongest subjects. I went the humanities route and have never regretted it.
Thank you. Mr Clark read me well but a much earlier teacher (of Maths) called me stupid (I was 14) and right then and there I remember thinking ‘OK. I’m stupid so I won’t try any more’. The teacher that called you stupid, and mine, deserve to be put in a pea green boat and floated on out of reach of any student because they are downright harmful. Mr Clark did not harm me because he understood exactly the moment and the method for getting through to me. Welcome to my half-baked world … I’m delighted to meet you!
That was delightful, Osyth. Every bit of it. Vacuous – ouch. That must have stung, oh yes. But for such stings in life, where would we be? I have a load stashed away. The Bean is quite cute btw, do pass him on a solemn handshake.
She believes she is the cutest of the cute, the boldest of the bold and the most intelligent of the intelligent. I will pass on your handshake …. she will be flattered! And the stings? Oh I have many many many stings for which I am very grateful!
Egad, I am sorry for referring to her as a male! Let her not retreat from the handshake now or I will be a sad puppy.
It’s OK – she lives in France and all dogs are referred to in the masculine. She’s cool with the handshake. Very cool 👍
I am glad to know she is accommodating. I thought she might be a raging feminist and that I had landed myself in no small trouble.
No – cheap slut that can be bought with pretty much any tiny snack. Except fruit. Actually, strike that – she has recently converted to apple. 100% cheap slut!
Apple-crunching Bean. Sounds cuddly and characterful. Hugs to her fruit-loving self.
This has made us both happy 🙂
The Bean is all those things, proven facts 🤓
😄 belief has nothing to do with it
The Bean loves you. Really really loves you and wishes you would come and live with us to remind us of her true status if we have a lapse of memory …. Stewie is welcome and the invitation is open and involves only one criteria …. bring snacks 😂
Oh how this made me laugh. I loved every one of my English teachers. A good English teacher seems to be just about the greatest gift any young adult can have because, if someone only shows you to that shelf of books, you can learn anything. X
I was fortunate too and Mr Clark (reserved only for A level students for obvious reasons … imagining pulling the vacuous moment on a 13 or 14 year old!). Glad you enjoyed it and in turn, I read this article this morning and thought of you. http://www.vanityfair.com/style/2017/03/nan-talese-publishing-career-marriage
Wowsers. Some flipping woman! I love McEwan’s line about her turning back into the nun’s who taught her. A convent education is an inescapable endowment. Oh, but please, can I just have her desk, curtains, sofa, lamp and whatever anti-aging potion she’s on!
Gobsmackingly amazing and I’d never heard of her. I am still standing in the corner in shame. I don’t think her old man is on the same anti-aging regime 😉
My English teacher was a sweetie. Mr Randle used to spend time trying to get me to actually use the subject he was trying to teach me, and many a roll-up was smoked together in an upstairs school office! He remained a friend after I left school when he helped me (and even took me out for meals because I was totally ‘skint’)
Reading this, I think that if I heard anyone telling me this I would assume that the teacher had been grooming them, but not old John – he was just a really good guy and we had a bond of sorts
Political Correctness will be the death of us all. John was a decent guy. He understood you and he liked you (should that be illegal?). That does not equate to grooming nor to interference or abuse. Just to decency and a will to ensure a young girl was OK. I like John.
My wonderfully eccentric English mistress inspired me. My Latin master disliked me and with much delight told me I would be lucky to pass A level. The dislike was mutual but his words goaded me into getting a B! My French mistress terrified me so I had to get a good pass. All, in their different ways, helped me get to University. I wonder which of these influenced my teaching style….only my many students can answer that one! By the way, I can say that sarcasm was a saviour for many of us in the classroom and I certainly used pithy remarks to good effect in persuading bright under-achieving students to achieve their potential!
Goaded into a B – I’d guess he smiled! Eccentric teachers are by far the best and I am certain you put the pith in pithy when you were teaching, Jenny!
Define ‘smart’. I’m not sure how smart he was.
Sartorial certainly 😉. Quick witted and very well educated. As a teacher he was a curious fit …. I suspect he would have preferred to be a librarian. But what mattered in the moment was taking control of an obnoxious teen and whether by accident or design having her face the very unimpressive nature of her tomfoolery.
I am so glad you put Mr Clark in his place so to speak. I can remember having three tough teachers in my second year of secondary school and being absolutely terrified of leaving a book at home. I carried them all every school day, earning thick callouses on my hands. Daft really and I was top of my year in Maths and Physics!
Now that is NOT good teaching …. my heart breaks for a child who is afraid of getting it wrong. Scared is not a place any child should be. But I was bumptious it must be said so I probably did need to have a bit of a prick to my balloon to give me the oomph that was needed to get the grade I was capable of and which I have treasured since when I have felt less than able, less of an achiever. I have that and I am proud of it.
I am so glad it worked it for you Osyth. You have a great gift for writing. 😊
Thank you. That means a great deal to me. More than anything except my children’s health and happiness in fact.
Oh Osyth, I am back at school and the years have fallen away thanks to your reverie of bygone days filled with masters and prep and playing fields and school songs and a future in which anything and everything was possible. Nothing vacuous here; loved every syllable 😊
Every was possible. It really was. I walked past the lycée here as the students were spilling out into the square at the end of the day a couple of days ago and there it was … that wonderful youthful energy, that nothing can stop me feeling. I smiled to myself, not in an ironic way, I smiled at the memory and I dug inside and touched it because deep down, I still believe we can change the world if we want to. 😊
There’s still time 🙂
What a delightful read!! I’m missing my English Literature lecturer ☺️ Though she wasn’t as interesting as yours.
So glad you enjoyed it … ive never forgotten him nor that incident 😊
your excellent post has reminded me that if I speak several languages is because of my unforgettable English teacher at the secondary/intermediate school(collège)… 🙂 otherwise, I’ve loved Molière (en français, évidemment!) since my high-school years, and then at the University where I had a old professor who had studied French literature à la Sorbonne… last but not least: Jean-Baptiste Poquelin aka Molière was born the same day as me… 🙂
@”AN old professor”, of course! désolée, but I rarely re-read myself… 🙂
A Moliere twinny …. now that is reason to celebrate! I’m glad you too had a wonderful English teacher – yours was a brilliance just needing to be uncorked. 😊
Mr Clarke was clearing adopting the cruel to be kind approached which clearly worked wonders and you went on to reveal your ‘Brilliance Within’… which continues to shine out! x
They were allowed to then … I fear that the negative side of political correctness is that gals like me who needed a bubble bursting don’t get it … I would never have got the results I actually craved if it wasn’t for that busted bubble moment. Xx
Yep – I agree – PC has gone too far and sometimes we just need the harsh truth to stop us in our tracks for a re-think! xx
Well said Wendy xx
Thanks Osyth – Have a brilliant weekend! x
You too! X
Thanks Osyth! xx
What a lovely teacher……I had some remarkable teachers in my days too….helped make me think, really think ….LOL great story….xx
Teachers have such a responsibility if they care to grasp the nettle – most take the high road but a few, the worthy few, are really life-changing. We are fortunate they had our care for a while!
yes and if you get a couple in a life time you have been lucky these days….
Sad but true 😔
I suspect I was vacuous too. We had quite a few heartthrob teachers including an English teacher who looked like David Essex…😍
Oh good grief, I would never have learned a thing for mooning after that babe! I’m pretty sure your average teen is pretty vacuous but these days one is probably not allowed to say that. I now have ‘Rock On’ ringing in my ears and if I close my eyes I can see David’s blue blue eyes 😉 Lovely to see you by the way. Really lovely xx
Thank you, Osyth! I saw the lookalike years later and he was still handsome (but he knew it…)
Hard not to know it I suppose but there is something so much more intoxicating about those that are oblivious …. I see you have written a piece. I’m exhausted so I will read it tomorrow and do it justice 🙂
Sleep well, my friend.
Thank you – I really did!
Mr Clarke sounds quite a character – a sharp brain and an even sharper tongue hidden under an exterior that could at best be called dandyish. Or looking like a twat! We have a lot to thank him for though – your love of words and literature was no doubt encouraged by him, and we’re now enjoying the benefits of that in your blog. The teenage ‘you’ sounds a lot of fun too 😊 xx
Apparently he is now to be found sharpening his razor-sharp wit on pithy political commentaries on FaceBook. It is my mission to find him! Thank you for being kind about the teenaged me … I’m not sure my mother would agree 😂 xx
You should definitely find him, then you could take the pith out of his commentaries by way of revenge and thanks. Girls whose mums despaired of them were always the most fun! Do you know the Chris Rea song ‘Stainsby Girls?’ For some reason it has come to mind 😊 xx
Good plan …. very good plan. I do know the track … and I did. Love the Rolling Stones 😉 xx
Thought so. It did seem to fit 😊 xx
In my view Mr Clarke did exactly right! I had the “pleasure” to encounter a few teachers like him during school and greatly benefitted from similar remarks 😉 It doesn´t do to only tell kids how great they do when they actually don´t, I see that everytime in my pottery class. Of course pottery is a very different subject than literature or maths, but the results of false praise are seen immediately in the child´s work – if I don´t make them aware of their mistakes, they never learn how to do it right, I can´t just gloss over them and tell them how wonderful they work when the vase they´re creating slopps off the potter´s wheel 😉 I´ve always felt that the strictest teacher were actually those who cared the most for their students. At uni I deliberately chose seminars by a professor famous for being very strict and in these courses I´ve learned the most! xxx
Spot on Sarah … in my opinion at least. And I think from much of the dialogue on this thread that you are in the majority. There is a huge difference between constructive criticism and destroying a child (or adult) with rocks aimed to hurt. I have always thrived when I have something to strive for. If I were to imagine that I was there already then the result would surely be for me to sit back and not try anymore. It would also result in a horribly inflated ego and person that most would not like very much at all. I am sure your pottery students are developing creatively and technically far harder for having a teacher who does not pretend that something is good when really it is rubbish! As for me, I am my own harshest critic (I know you understand this one, it is part of the creative spirit) … I learned early that I should constantly strive for more, to do better and I am grateful for it. And for the fact that Mr Clarke called me vacuous …. all these years later I am still careful not to ever be that person!!! Xxx
The same goes for me, I´m part sloth (I absolutely adore these animals 😉 ) and need to be challenged in order to get there at all. The funny thing is that the children in my current class at least really seem to like me although I´m acting a bit like Mr Clarke 😉 But just to make sure I´m not painting too black a painting of me: I do praise them when they deserve it! 😀
I even managed to get them to tidying the room afterwards without me having to tell them to! As for the creativity bit, I notice how much more creative they get with each week – they develop many ideas (not all of them doable but funny nonetheless 😉 ) and I´m getting prouder and prouder of them!
It´s amazing what an impact your teacher had on you, isn´t it? Just a few words and yet they directed you into the wonderful person you now are… Reminds me a bit of the pen being mightier than the sword 😉 Which I´ve always found to be true! xxx
You and my youngest daughter could start a sloth appreciation society …. she is smitten too! Good teachers shape our lives. 8 years ago when my third daughter (TOO many daughters!!!) was 16 and doing her compulsory work experience at her old Primary School she asked her headteacher (a truly inspiring teacher … one of the best I have ever met) what her thoughts were on career choices because she was torn between medicine and teaching. Mrs C said ‘doctors are absolutely essential and good ones are to be treasured and nurtured but ask anyone if they remember their childhood doctor and the chances are they won’t even though they were probably brilliant. On the other hand a good teacher will live in you through all your days’. This particular daughter has taken her time getting onto her path (which is not a bad thing at all … living life so long as you are not harming anyone nor yourself and so long as you are content at the time is perfectly perfect) but she starts an Illustration Degree in September and from there intends to train as a teacher. She never forgot Mrs C’s words and I know Mrs C will be delighted. You are doing the most valuable of jobs and being a bit Mr Clarke is surely reaping rewards for the children in your care. By the way, this daughter was also ‘gifted’ academically and her secondary school really really wanted her to become a brilliant brain surgeon but the best teachers are those that have followed their hearts, I think and I know she is following hers as you are yours xxx
This is one funny coincidence: when I was 16 I was absolutely convinced I wanted to become an emergency surgeon!! I hold on to this till after my A-levels. After which I suddenly had doubts about whether I could cope being confronted with people in pain everyday even if my work would consist of relieving them of it… I´m not sure if it was a spur of the moment thing or if these thoughts had lingered already in my head but I decided that it would be best to follow my heart at that moment and studied archeology and art history instead (well, actually I began studying Egyptology, medieval history and archeology, changed that to art history, archeology and Ancient Greek and dropped the latter after a couple of years 😉 – so I know how it is to take your time 😉 ). Mrs C must be a brillant teacher if your daughter decided to ask her for her opinion – I think I never did that with any of mine. And I´m absolutely convinced that your daughter´s decision is the right one! Sometimes I think it´s not easy to have so many talents and interests, it makes it harder to decide early on with what you want to spent the rest of your life with… xxx <3
Sometimes you emanate some beautiful truths, and even some true beauties . How is this possible ? Are you sure you are not used by a muse or a deva ?
Well wouldn’t it be wonderful to think I was a siphon for a deva or indeed a muse! They would have to answer that themselves – for my part I just spout what comes out but heavenly heavens I thank you for that delicious and delightful thought 🙂
Yes it’s obvious you don’t understand the consciousness that your vehicle conveys but thank you for doing it . For doing this you must have downsized your ego quite a little . Ah ! Maybe your famous vacuity eventually …
Oh my teacher pricked that burgeoning ego bubble good and well all those years ago. I just do what I do. I am filled with self-doubt like most of us and I do try to keep ego curbed because, lets keep it simple … I have studied it for a long time (the subject, my own and the ego of others who have touched my life) and it has such power to swallow a human and indeed humanity if left to grow wild.
Hmm I don’t know if I want to try to understand this final line . I like much the first part though, and also the utility of studying your subject . But where does the ego start shaking its tail in this hazardous journey around itself ? Eventually who is studying ? Ha ha !!
Oh ego starts with birth … those parents and grandparents and friends of all cooing and oohing over this tiny form … that little creature is bound, surely to absorb if not thing ‘hey! Important! Me!’ And it grows from there, I suppose. Mine, like most is a minefield from there on in and to try and clarify what I was saying, I think that an ego let run out of control quickly takes control and the more control it has the more it is gratified and the better it feels. Reason leaves the building. I think. As you will need no guidance … one of the things we need to remain is conscious and another is mindful. I study many things but of course that leaves me lacking in studying one or a very few things properly and thoroughly. It is part of my discursive nature and not something I am proud of. But then again, if I thought myself perfectly enlightened, it wouldn’t be a fact but merely my ego whispering falsely in my ear – I think!
When I read about your birth I realize how lucky are those born in starving Soudan or better in Dachau . Sure their parents were not busy magnifying them .But it’s always the same : all the best for the Jews .
Seriously my questioning is not on dumb self-contentment but on the track of the questioning itself . I’m not cleaned yet so a railing I try to use as often as possible is asking ” I see or research this, but right now who is seeing or searching ?” There are several instances in us, several levels of “selfness”, and I know – or rather I don’t know – the One I’d love to be .
A funny bip-bip : the French term for railing is “garde-fou” . Garder means to protect and in the same time to keep as a prisoner,(or a child or a crazy ego), and “fou” means insane . If the keepers of Amerindian wisdom are called Medicine-Men is because they saw that every man is mentally sick .
(And I don’t mention women, too much) .
Of course I’m luckier than those born into poverty. No question. My gripes are tiny. But my point to the lady in question was to highlight that things are not always as simple as they seem. Selfishness is a constant in the human but we can strive to erode it. As for the French expression …. I love it! It covers it all. Medicine men are necessary in the whole western world but probably most in America. For both men and women. If I get back there you can expect some more episodes of my bewilderment at the state of things there. I don’t, daren’t even reach into politics! Going back to Little Miss Me Me Me … you know there are different forms of repression. Different levels. Mine was an entitled but stifling upbringing. Ironically my Great grandmother was a true suffragette photographed chained to the railings outside No. 10 Downing Street and my Grandmother, on their wedding day, gave a portfolio of shares (sur la Bourse) to my mother to ensure her independence but my mother, who I love dearly, didn’t understand at all equality. And it is simply about equal opportunity for me. Not great opportunity for women, or ethnic minorities, or the handicapped. Just fairness. The Jewish debate. Is probably not one to engage me in on social media. Really.
Hey, let’s keep the groove . You might happen to see that if there are nearly always axes I discover with seriousness in my joking (I don’t know how it’s done, maybe some deva on acid), there is always some form of joking in my too frequent seriousness .. But of course the forms can be of any kind maybe, because being free is being free, and there are officialy jokes .
Even if there is some seriousness hidden somewhere … Ah! like French Eastern chocolates in gardens for the little kiddies we never ceased to be . Well, I never could .
I’m happy to meet your deva on acid bearing chocolate bunnies for the children we still are at heart (you too … really). I’m a bit of a serious cookie underneath the Jokey exterior and a bit jokey under the seriousness. That’s how it should be, isn’t it? A veritable mille feuille of wonder and always able to reach out and touch the warm heart ❤️
Maybe your Edward Lear whom I didn’t know was of this kind too, “one of a kind” as they say . But they obviously must be kidding ..
Lear was certainly one of a kind. I used to live in his house in London. Not with him, you understand because that would make me MUCH older than even I actually am. But his nonsense appeals to me. Life can be far too serious and people tend to take me too seriously (but thenI probably do present a dichotomy for which, being a woman, I refuse to apologise 😉)
Gentle acknowledging . xxx
You found a subject which touched a lot of chords, Fiona! I liked the description of Mr Clark and agree with a few who said he did you a favor while I myself was very nice to students hoping to inspire by being patient and helpful to their enlightenment. 🙂
There was a math teacher who was unkind to me, said he would do me “and your future students” a favor by flunking me. I had to repeat this college course and found a wonderful and decent man in Dr. Andrew Glass. He asked me to stay after class one day. I had told him about the awful insult the other professor had given me. Dr. Glass asked if I wanted to earn some money and I said I would but didn’t want to use too much time away from homework. He said he would pay me $8 an hour to grade math papers. I was ecstatic, Then he told me the “Catch.” I would have to figure out the answers first!! What?! No key? When I helped my Mom grade her H.S. papers, she gave me the “answer key!”
I said OK and wouldn’t you know it? I really could figure out the answers! 🙂 It’s the ones who expand our minds and abilities who we remember. Lovely post and I enjoyed all the diverse responses. xo <3
Robin, you are very kind. This piece seems to have woken many up which I guess is unsurprising since we all have memories of teachers (and some, like you, were teachers themselves). I think it is a question of knowing your students. I was a bit of a madame and Mr Clarke understood that I needed to address my foolishness or waste my talent. It worked for me but it would certainly not work for many others. My stepson is hoping to get his first teaching post this year and I know he will be a wonderful role model because, like you he is inherently kind and would never willingly hurt anyone. I think the lesson I really learned that day was that although I was inherently kind also that I was in danger of hurting myself. I wish I had had your maths professor. I was put off maths at age 14 by a teacher who told me I was stupid. I just rolled with it and the regret lives with me to this day xx
Quick response: The teachers who planted bad seeds about students who needed help in mathematics should have to do tasks they hate for a bit. I loved Dr. Glass and how he truly believed in me! Heading to work at 6:30 am. Have a splendid and beautiful day, sweet Fi! <3
It is never too late to practice maths, you know? I believe you would surprise yourself since out brains have more inside them than we expect, Fiona.
I took awhile to do my own taxes and three times tried to multiply a long several digits’ long problem. I try to find number problems as easy as balancing my checkbook and other times, my grandkids have algebra problems and ask me to “check them.” Let me know if you try, if it all works out or not. hugs xo
My husband is an Astrophysicist … he agrees with every word you say! Xxx
Oh, so amazed that your intelligent husband agreed with me! I feel like Sally Fields in the winning of her Academy Award for “Norma Rae!” Let me know if you try this fun and challenging world of math. I “curse” you (only kidding) Mr. Clark!! 🙂 xoxoxo 🙂
I just read your comment to The Brains …. he’s laughing 😀 xx
I find humour in your post. Some tutors are etched in our lifetime memories like your teacher Mr Clarke. They can be caustic though I daresay that sometimes their blunt opinions help to strengthen our resolve to prove them wrong.
Jacqueline, first thank you for gracing me by following my blog. I hasten not to disappoint. Second. Your points about teachers are extremely well founded. It has been a very interesting ride this time .. the comments thick and fast and representing many opinions. I think in the end it comes down to the fact that a great teacher must intuitively understand each of his or her students. The vacuous comment to me might have been wholly inappropriate to a different nature but for me it was exactly the gut-punch I needed to force me to re-evaluate. And I have given thanks ever since. For others soft nurturing is the right way.
Wow …you are a really good storyteller…you kept me glued till the end..
And oh i am a teacher myself and i find this.piece very amusing..
Haha! You have my total respect that you teach. It is the most important of professions. Good ones are to be bottled and treasured so now I have two reasons to bottle and treasure you … your poetry and your profession 😊
Thank you so much….keep writing…keep telling beautiful stories…
A wonderful post Fiona! Some teachers leave a huge impression on us for sure! You are such a vibrant and smart person!!!! xoxo
Lynn you are far to kind. I’m just a dull old schmuck really but I was blessed with a couple of smart teachers! Xxx
Haha you are amazing and lovely bursting with sweetness!
Again… another fantastic experience shared.
Aren’t ‘jolly days’ like ‘love’ blinding at times? Without the experience, what would we have learned of value to share with others?
Wisdom – that last remark. Thank you. And thank you for the compliment too
Always my friend…
Good old Mr Clarke! Do you ever wonder what would have become of you if you hadn’t had the good fortune (not that you thought it at the time!) of being in his group?
It has been known and it never feels terribly comfortable! Thank you Elaine x
Three cheers for Mr Clarke!
Hello….is all well….haven’t heard or seen you around in a while…hope this means your having fun!!! kat
Hi Osyth – just thought I’d stop by and say hello.. hope all is well and you aren’t tied to any columns … well not for too long anyway! xx
Just tied to visiting family, Wendy…. first husbands sister and brother in law and now the reward for good behavior of youngest daughter. Thank you for asking… it actually means a lot that you have taken the time. Normal service will be resumed next week 😊xx
What better way to spend your time than with your family! Great to hear that all is well and enjoy an amazing week with your daughter! Thanks for taking the time out to let me know which I truly appreciate!! xxx
You had male members of staff at your school?
Mine was an all female establishment: the caretaker only appeared after regular school hours unless in case of emergency when he would be chaperoned to the site of said emergency while the only male ‘teacher’ was a reverend gentleman who covered ‘A’ Level R.I. in case of need. He too was chaperoned. Goodness only knows what our revered headmistress thought we would do to him otherwise.
If your Mr. Clark would be disciplined these days then that explains the mindless airheads claiming to have received an education who are currently cluttering up the universities.
I went to a co-ed secondary, my mother having hated her own education and sticking two fingers up at her older sister sending the girl to a convent, I think. Your final remark is entirely and tragically accurate. Teaching, like everything else is now ruled by the cloth-headed political correctness brigade but as I have tried to say to those that have challenged his style in the comments, albeit politely, he knew me and I needed a little humiliation to prick my foolish bubble of adolescent ego. And he succeeded. As did others with equally unfashionable methods. When I left it was with a clutch of straight A’s at A level and an offer to read Philosophy at Girton Cantab – without the pith, the sarcasm and the humiliation I would have sailed headlong off a cliff of my own invention.
Reading of the need for ‘triggers’ to avoid ‘offence’ I do wonder whether this is why my generation and those in preceding and immediately following cohorts are seen as insensitive by these delicate young shoots who are so ready to abandon all that was gained in the postwar settlement.
I had the misfortune to have had one of their number in the aisle seat on the Amsterdam to Toronto leg of my journey, cuddled up on her own pillow hanging out into the aisle, airline pillow and blanket tossed to the ground to provide a trap for my feet when I finally roused her from her electronic device in order to go to the loo, cabin crew’s offer of food greeted with a request for a list of ingredients and later offers of water waved imperiously away…..
I could have done with a trigger for her….
They are everywhere and made fat and entitled (though they will appear to be skinny and toned) by a rich diet of entitlement and ego-bolstering from the cradle. I’m afraid I never adhered to the norm when raising my daughters (on my own). I believe that there are two crucial things missing in much of the population of the western world – decency and respect. Add to that a peck of humility and it is easy to see how we have created such an odious youth.
You tell the best stories, Osyth! And, with such flair! You were probably one of Mr. Clark’s favorites. 🙂
Thank you so much Tonya! I’m not sure if I would dare ask him …. 😁