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The worst teacher I ever had was my first grade teacher, at Painted Rock Elementary School
in Poway, California, starting in 1978; none of the listed names ring a bell for me. I would tell her the following:
1: I don't even remember your name. I remember nothing that you meant to teach me.
2: The only thing you
taught me was that an adult can be unreasonable and vicious.
3: I had never met a child
who was a bully before I met you. I had no idea what a bully was, before I was a student in your care.
4: My mother never forgave me for lying to her that year. My lie was that "school was fine today". I paid, for the next fourteen years, for your unprofessionalism.
5: I still color outside the lines, and in colors that aren't pastel. I still have a messy desk. I still sing under my breath when I'm fully involved in a task. I still write my capital J with a hat on top in print, and with pointy bits to the left and top in cursive; no one has any trouble figuring out what letter it is. I still stand up, speak up, and get in the way when someone tries to use authority as a flail against their unfavorite. Threatening to attack me in addition, or instead, just makes me more determined to ruin every aspect of the bully's professional life.
6: You had no business being a teacher of any age group. You played favorites. You liked to make a big scene, whether handing out praise or criticism. You should have taken a clue from the fact that no other teacher had any problem with me, whether we were combining two first-grade classes to practice our letters or we were turned over to the librarian for an introduction to the lending program or we had a substitute for a day.
7: My hair was prettier than yours then, and it still is now.
Part of the problem with this woman probably came from my educational past: I'd never attended preschool, and half my kindergarten year was spent at a Montessori-style class. She expected me to sit quietly at my desk, remain completely organized and focused on the current task, and for God's sake I should take school seriously
. I still thought learning was a joy, though I was a little curious when she'd start teaching something I didn't already know. By the time we got into addition, which of course was still rote memorization at that point, I was so excited to finally hit something new that I read every line of instruction and threw myself into the problems.
I'm horrid at rote memorization, though, so I was lousy at math. I had to do every problem more than once, trying to figure out what the expected answer was. I'd be so relieved when my answer came out the same twice, and then get yelled at for being wrong -- or for writing the numbers crooked -- or for taking too long -- or for wiggling in my seat as I worked. The best I could hope for was no reaction at all, which meant that I'd gotten everything the way she wanted it.
And I, of course, was six
. Five when the school year started. Reading at a fourth grade level because those were the oldest books I was permitted to access. Confident, simultaneously, that the world basically loved me, and that all adults essentially agreed with each other. If the teacher said I was a rotten brat, and I told Mom how often I was getting yelled at, then Mom would have to yell at me too for having been bad at school. So I made up a happy story; I told Mom my kindergarten teacher had visited, and we sang songs, and we had fun; and I never mentioned getting yanked by the arm and my desk getting upended and the entire class being ordered to say that the Class Favorite's drawings were pretty while mine were ugly. She didn't find out what was really going on until I finally cracked under the pressure.
I hope that woman wound up in a job more suited to her personality. Hog washing, maybe.