While I did love school, for the most part, I didn’t learn much from it. I actually got most of my education from PBS. This was driven home this morning when I asked my little cousin what was bothering her about her Chemistry class. Apparently, something called Lewis Structures is giving her problems. I had Chemistry in high school but had never heard this before.
On this, we have to take a little trip through the Time Tunnel.
One of the few bad teachers I had was my 10th grade Chemistry teacher. This isn’t a knock on Conservative Evangelicals, because I know some who actually accept the existence of Scientific principles. This is a knock on her ineffective teaching methods.
Rather than teach us the subject she agreed to teach, she instead chose to make every effort to convert or run out of the school everyone she deemed “in need of saving”. More often than not, the students “in need of saving” were LGBT and or religious minorities. She surrounded herself with a coterie of students hand picked by her to be her personal persecution squad. These students would get into fights with the targeted students to the point where the targeted students didn’t want to come to school anymore.
It was tried on me and it fell flat. You see, I’m an old hat at being teased and it just didn’t work on me by the time I was sixteen. I had bigger fish to fry by that point. The fact that I was totally irrepressible was not lost on this particular teacher and I became the main target of her persecutions. It started small, with snide comments but eventually grew to the point where she openly stalked me around the school. That was more hilarious and pathetic than scary until she actively sought and eventually did get me kicked out of computer lab under the pretense of my needing to spend time with children my own age.
This was laughable because I was a social pariah at school. So, I sat alone at lunch with her staring a hole into my head from across the room. Even then, I wouldn’t let her get me down.
By this time, several teachers had noticed her behavior as well. At one point, she had the temerity to bring her class down to the floor I was on to use the restroom where she stood in the door of my English teacher’s room (which was nowhere near the restrooms), yelling at her students to behave while eyeballing me. My English teacher and her almost got into it because we were trying to have class time and my English teacher wanted the door closed. Apparently, that wasn’t acceptable to my Chemistry teacher. She snapped at her, demanding to know why she wanted the door closed. Wow, I thought they were going to come to blows. My English teacher was awesome.
It eventually revved up on May Day. On this particular day, we didn’t usually have school work. Instead we had a free day where we had food, played games and watched movies. She openly took to following me around to the point where even I got creeped out and several adults were ready to report her. On that day, I snapped and started crying a bit. It was getting quite ridiculous having a 48 year old woman following around a 16 year old girl like a shark from hell. Several teachers comforted me that day, including my English teacher.
Despite it being so late in the year, at that point, I decided to report her and try to get my class changed. Of all the days to block my path, she chose that day. She put her arm in my way and demanded to know where I was going. I just smiled and said ‘The Office’ and looked at her. I don’t know what was in my eyes in that moment but any further questions died on her lips and she stepped aside to let me continue to the office. Of course, she was hovering in the background the whole time to see what I was doing….creepy.
I was instructed by the principal to go to the guidance counselor. A very nice man. We went through the books for classes and, unfortunately, she was the only Chemistry teacher at the school with Chemistry being a required class to advance to the next grade. He asked me the $64,000.00 question. Why did I want to switch classes. He probably thought I was having problems with a student and sought to abate the situation. I looked over that one last time at her and she could see in my eyes that I was going to tell everything. He followed my gaze and realized I was prevented from talking by someone out in the hallway and closed the door.
I told him everything. Every incident that had occurred that year. Every situation that had been ruined in some way by her. I held nothing back. I even told him I had teachers and paraprofessionals to back up what I was saying who had also witnessed what had happened. He was floored but he believed me. I was known as a truthful student and I didn’t get into trouble. I don’t know what he said or did but she backed off after that.
I had a few more classes and one more big test, the Final exam to contend with in her class before I was free of her influence for good. By that point, I didn’t give a giant flying rat’s booty what she did as far as my grades. I knew I had done my best despite overwhelming stress and pressure. Nothing was going to take that away from me.
On the day of the Final, she was gearing up to make everyone nervous. Sorry, but no. That behavior did not work on me. Everyone else was freaking out over the test and the fact that she tried to play psychological tricks by playing classical music to shake us all up. Sorry, no. That just didn’t work on me. She didn’t even know what she put on. Eine kleine Nachtmusik by Mozart. Thank you, classical music radio station 88.1 for that one.
I got in the rhythm of the song and breezed through the Mickey Mouse questions she put on the test while everyone else freaked out. It got to the point where she probably thought I was cheating, but I didn’t care. She stood right over my desk and watched me writing while I decimated her questions one by one. I had time to spare, so I was enjoying myself listening to the music.
I got my report card back about a week and a half later. I got 100% in her class despite missing days due to illness. Apparently, there were bonus questions on the Final that I got right. I didn’t see her again until six months later. She’d apparently gone to a different school to teach younger kids. I’ll tell you how I know. She brought these self-same kids on a “school field trip” to her old job and somehow found my class to hang around in despite it being an English class. We. The. Students. Cracked. Up.
So, that gives background. I didn’t have a good grounding in Chemistry. Unfortunately, PBS didn’t have a program on the fundamentals of Chemistry as they did in Grammar, Mathematics, etc. My school exposure to Chemistry was nonexistent due to the inerudite manner of her teaching.
So, for the next few days, thanks to MITOpencourseware, I’m learning something new. I’m going to study the full course for The Principles of Chemical Science. I am glad to know that the school system in which I was educated upped it’s game as far as teaching. I am also eternally grateful to MIT for releasing this information. Without which, I wouldn’t be able to expand my knowledge.