Azure Jane Lunatic (azurelunatic) wrote,
Azure Jane Lunatic

The worst teacher

The current LJ writer's block question is, more or less:

If you could confront the worst teacher you ever had, what would you tell them?

My answer is not theoretical. I did. He was teaching Algebra II in college.

There's some background here. He and I got off on the wrong foot at the beginning of the class because I sat next to my friend (and later roommate). We had been accustomed to sitting in the back of the Algebra I class; she was driven to panic by math but was determined to get her business degree; I was comfortable enough with math that I could translate from math-teacher to her, real-time, in the back of the class, so she kept pace with the lesson and understood it. We had Algebra II together, and we started doing the same thing. Unlike the previous teacher, he saw this as disruptive, and made it clear that he would not tolerate talking in class. We didn't try to explain, we just shut up. She began falling behind, and I began quietly hating him. My tutoring was not as effective after the class, and we were crunched for time. It also seemed like he hated teaching the subject.

My roommate was home sick in bed the morning of this particular confrontation.

I wanted to confirm that the period for simple interest was to be assumed to be one year, unless otherwise specified; the book had not said, and my memory was rusty. He interrupted me halfway through asking my question and started answering a different question. We went back and forth, both of us getting more and more impatient, a few rounds. I could see that about 75% of the class could understand what I was trying to ask.

I finally told him that I wasn't going to waste any more of his or the class's time. I added, "This class sucks!" and stomped out of the room.

I fumed into the computer lab. I was absolutely furious, with near-literal steam rising off the top of my head. You could put your hand three inches above my head and feel hot water vapor. I seem to recall saying something or other to the lab attendant, who was probably ralmathon, and between him and a passing professor, my question was answered.

I realized that this was one of the cases where the first person to give their side of the story was probably going to come out on top, and I had the advantage of time, because he was still stuck in class. I went to the Dean and explained what had happened. The Dean recommended that I make use of the tutoring center and that I continue to attend class. No action was taken against me that I was aware of. No action against him ditto, but I was fine with that. My classmates talked to me afterward and told me that they'd wished they had the guts to do the same.

After that, I stopped pretending to pay attention in class. Most of the material was review from high school, and I have always tested well. I brought books to class and read them quietly in the back. For a few weeks, it was the Necronomicon, the paperback edition with the lurid pink text on the front. I would read from that, and intersperse my investigations into the fascinating but weird Babylonian mythology with looks over the top of the book at the teacher, meeting his eyes when I could.

He took the next trimester off from teaching.

The most frustrating part of it was, he was actually a great teacher when he was teaching something he loved. He guest-lectured in a business class of mine, and he was suffused with enthusiasm and managed to communicate that passion to the class. If only he'd been that way in math, or if only he hadn't had to teach math.

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