Thursday, January 20, 2011

More Teachers!

What surprised me when reading some of your mean teachers was the intensity of your memories, although I shouldn't be surprised, because Marge Limon like I was still in high school. Here's a story from Nathan McClaud, and it's intense.
Reading your last post about a tribute to the meanest teacher ever brought back traumatic memories of my high school days with a Mr. H.

Some background to begin. I went to a small town school. My high school had barely more than 100 kids in it. My graduating class was 15 people. That meant that all our teachers pulled double and sometimes triple duty with multiple classes. Mr. H was one of them. His classroom was right at the top of the stairs on the right, where he could see and hear everything that happened in the upper hallway. It was right across from water fountain. His door was the only oak door left. After going there for four years, you'd remember all these details because they were associated with dreaded Mr. H.

He taught three classes. One of them you were forced to take, the other two were basically electives. English Literature was his primary subject. He also taught the Journalism class that was responsible for the Yearbook (which was the sacrifice you made for wanting to work on the Yearbook), and Mythology. He also ran one homeroom session in the morning, and woe to the poor kids who were randomly assigned to that homeroom. He was a rotund man with white hair and pocked face. His teeth were very yellow, although the only time you ever saw them is when he leered at you. He had worked there for sixteen years, and gained the reputation that scared the pants off most Freshmen.

His main issue was that he could not control his temper. Ever. We could all be reading quietly at our desks, and something he was doing would start a small angry flame. Someone would look up or cough or anything, and he'd come out of his chair yelling. He'd yell so much that his face would turn beet red and he'd literally rock on the balls of his feet as he told you exactly what he thought of you and all kids your age. That was usually the theme of his rage - you kids at your age. He'd go back to his desk and angrily throw books down on it. He'd pull out a yardstick and slap the blackboard where he had written something on it. He'd knock over things leaning in the corner (a projector screen, a stack of maps, whatever was unlucky enough to be sitting there). He'd stomp around loudly, swearing under his breath. It was like watching a little man-sized 4-year-old Godzilla.

I was in his class when he finally lost what was left of his sanity. We were reading A Tale of Two Cities. I remember one of my classmates reading out loud when he mispronounced something. Mr. H was immediately livid. He launched out of his squeaky chair and flailed his arms as he crossed the room in a hurry. He was ranting about "us kids our age" ruining the spoken English language. With surprising speed that I had never guessed he would possess, he grabbed my classmate and lifted him off the floor. He had rage strength going, so he tossed my classmate over the desk behind him onto the poor girl sitting there. He raced back to the blackboard and grabbed his yardstick. He proceeded to hit the table I was sitting at repeatedly while screaming that a piece off the end broke off with every strike, flying past our heads to hit the wall. A football player in my class made the call to bail, and we poured out of the classroom. He ran down the hall after us, waving half a yardstick like a crazy samurai. We fled to the Office, where the Principle, the gym teacher and a bus driver had to restrain him until the cops came to pick him up.

After that, he was forced into retirement where he spent the next ten years being mean ole Mr. H on 6th Street. Soon afterwards he died. I don't know if anyone missed him or not, but I know that I felt relief for the kids going to my school for years to come.

I know that sounds horrid, but honestly - he scared the crap out of us.

That's quite a story--I think Mr. H might have been (incredibly enough) even worse than Marge Limon.

Apropos of nothing, thanks to Monty Python, I can't hear the title "A Tale Of Two Cities" without immediately converting it in my head to "A Sale Of Two Titties."

Now, a lighter note from Scott Gould:
Not a horror story, but a teacher anecdote to share. In the British system, everyone does the same subjects in Forms 1-3 (the equivalent of junior high, I suppose). Forms 4-5 are GCSEs, which is half core and half elective, and Lower and Upper 6 (hey, I didn't name them) are entirely elective. So going from Form 3 to 4 is a huge step, because with the exception of general English, Maths and Science, you can finally drop subjects that don't interest you.

My French teacher was Mrs Godfrey. She was on the stricter side with a rarely-used but cutting sense of humour. She wasn't exactly mean, but you didn't want to test her.

She was an amateur actress and got a part in a very clever play called Black Comedy, along with my father. This was awkward enough, but my father's role was the Colonel -- and Mrs. Godfrey's his daughter, whom the Colonel exclusively and frequently called "dumplin'".

I probably don't even need to tell the rest of the story. Yes, it ended with me calling her "dumplin'" in class one day. The silver lining was I got to miss the rest of it. The tarnished edge of that silver lining was that my school, built halfway up Hong Kong Peak, was simply five seven-storey buildings in a staggered clump, with outdoor corridors to ensure that any student ejected from class for misbehaviour was in full view of a good portion of the student body.

I dropped French at the end of third form, and she just had to get the last word in. I always assumed I was fairly good at French; I am skilled with accents, and my memory for vocabulary is above average. Granted, I was a B/C student in French, but I had figured that was more due to my lack of interest in it than any lack of natural talent.

I got my report at the end of third form -- my last report, interaction, *anything* ever with Mrs Godfrey! -- and read through to the end of the comments section:
"I am confident Scott has made a wise choice in deciding not to continue with French next year."

Site Meter