TEACHERS: THE GOOD AND THE BAD. Today’s challenge asks us to “Describe the worst teacher you ever had.” How lucky I am no one leaps immediately to mind. The good ones crowd in and I have to push them aside to think if even one who I would say hit mediocre on a scale of teaching skills. Dr. H—was the second of two English professors charged with making certain the Freshman starting college at the University of Delaware in 1955 knew the basics of proper composition. Dr. Bohner taught me first semester and lives on in my memory at the top of my great teachers award.
Background, any of you who read me consistently have to look past the errors neither spell or grammar check catch. I have a learning disability called dysgraphia. Similar to dyslexia it covers many writing flaws from poor hand writing, simple reversal of letters or more disruptive idiosyncratic including spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors. My disability also makes me prone to making errors such as typing “not” for “now.” These errors are the ones that drive me craziest for they can change the entire meaning of a sentence. Moreover, when you try to edit your work, you often don’t see the mistakes. No amount of practice and proof reading eliminates the errors. My disability has been poisonwood to many teachers and editors. The good ones saw and honored the brain behind the errors. the bad saw me as careless, lazy or stupid.
Dr Bohner was one who honored my brain. We had to write a composition a week. Mine always came back with interesting comments and marked A-. Our final project was a research paper. I still have mine. It is about the Appalossa horses of the Nez Pierce Indians. The remarks are there and the final grade–an A-. Two days before the end of the first semester, Dr. Bohner asked me to come to his office. As the final paper comprised 60% of the grade, terror filled my heart, for despite the A-s I had accumulated throughout the term, I feared he was going to tell me I had failed the course. Several high school English teachers had predicted my efforts to get a college degree were doomed unless I learned to honor the dictates of the English language when I put pen to paper. I knew as I entered the good professor’s office that I had not yet learned to do so.
Too fearful to enjoy Dr. Bohner’s handsomeness and smiling blue eyes, I waited for his words of doom. Instead I heard, “I am sorry to tell you that I have to give you an A- for the course. You are the best thinker in the class and if this wasn’t a composition course, I could give you an A+. I had to mark you down for spelling and punctuation, ”
I don’t think he understood my sigh of relief for what it was. He then took the time to explain and correct some of my errors. To this day, I can spell the word writing properly because that was one of his examples. Don’t remember any of the others. But I recall with pleasure his honoring of a brain, I didn’t know at the time was of any particular value.
Next semester it was Dr. H. and he wasn’t bad, but his way of handling my learning disability was to give all my papers an A over F which averaged out to a C for my final grade. Moreover, he never commented on the ocntent, just marked all the errors in red ink. I hated getting papers back from him.
Some where about that time I read a poem which said of love, “I love you not for what you are, but for what you make me when I am with you.” Don’t think that is an exact quote, but holds the truth of all the A plus teachers I was lucky enough to study under. A lover and a teacher should not ignore faults, but should see strengths and by affirming them guide you to becoming the best you can be. I am grateful to those teachers and lovers who helped me be who I have become. Keep caring and stay strong.
Topic #38 Describe the worst teacher you ever had