Pop Quiz: Who was your worst teacher?
We’ve all had that one teacher. The one we never got along with. The one who gave nothing but busywork. The one who mentally retired early, but kept on teaching for another decade or two. The one that we, each and every day, strive not to become.
I’d be willing to guess that, for all but the luckiest among us, just reading the title of this post immediately brought one (or more) terrible teachers to mind. Amirite?
Before going on I’d like to make clear that I was, by and large, incredibly lucky with the teachers I got throughout most of my education. I almost certainly would not be where I am today were it not for at least three excellent teachers I had in high school, one of whom is almost personally responsible for my decision to become an educator. Even those teachers I didn’t find quite so inspirational usually had at least something to offer, or at the very least didn’t actively seek to inflict misery.
But then there was my seventh grade history teacher, Mrs X (no relation to the esteemed Professor). For the sake of demonstrating her particular style, I’ll describe her method for ‘teaching’ the geography of each region we studied during her class:
Step 1: Give each student an 11″x17″ pre-labelled map of the region (because I guess making us label the map would have risked teaching us something?).
Step 2: Tell students to spend the entire class period colouring the map.
Now, this wouldn’t be so terrible if it weren’t for the way in which these ‘assignments’ were graded. You see, no two bordering countries could be the same colour or it was points off. But in many cases, we did not actually have enough different colours available to accomplish this feat (or perhaps we did, but were not sufficiently familiar with the Four colour theorem, though if I recall correctly corners touching was still points off). Worst of all, we had to colour all the water blue.
Except the water was already blue on the maps when we got them. We had to neatly colour huge expanses of already blue ocean. Truly, the Platonic ideal of busywork. Just thinking about it, even now, gets me agitated. Excuse me while I have a drink.
Who was your worst teacher? (No names, please!) Why were they so terrible? Did you learn anything from the experience?
The Pop Quiz is a question posed to you, the Scholars of Doubt. Look for it to appear Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 3pm ET.
Featured image: Krzysztof Lubieniecki (1659-1729) – ‘The School Teacher’