When I was a sophomore in high school, we had to take health as a class for part of the year. So for a few months, the otherwise sweat suit clad junior-varsity lacrosse coach would pick up his suit and tie from the dry cleaners and teach us about health. I don’t want to knock health as a subject, I’m sure with the right curriculum, there’s a lot of important material to be learned.
But I do want to knock this health teacher. What a joke. He’d walk in the door on the first day nearly blackout drunk on the power of being a classroom teacher. The health unit wouldn’t start until sometime around the middle of the year, yet he’d still give a huge introductory speech, like, “OK, if you need to go to the bathroom, please raise your hand, all right?” like, come on man, everybody knows how to go to the bathroom, it’s January already, we’ve been here for months.
“Don’t think this is going to be an easy class,” he’d give the most toothless warning ever. Of course this wasn’t going to be an easy class. It was going to be an annoying class. Why? Because this dude was the worst teacher I’ve ever had in my life. There was nothing easy about sitting in that desk every day, even if it was for only fifty minutes or so, trying to stomach this guy playing teacher.
You could tell just by the suit that he wore to class every day that he had no idea what he was doing, while at the same time taking it all way too seriously. Whereas most other teachers wore regular clothes, you know, regular jackets and regular ties, I clearly remember this guy wearing a double-breasted navy coat, complete with shiny gold buttons. It was like he walked into the Men’s Warehouse and said, “I want to like the way I’m going to look, and I want you guarantee it!”
But this is all incredibly petty of me. I’m thinking back on this guy, here I am, I’m making fun of his clothes, that’s not really nice of me. He’s just doing his job. I’m sure he would have rather been outside, teaching phys-ed, not stuck in here going over the same half-unit every year to a bunch of kids that he wouldn’t be around long enough to even get to know their names.
No, you know what? I just tried, I tried to be sympathetic, I got caught up in feeling bad because I made fun of his jacket, but I tried to see it from his point of view and, no, I can’t, I really couldn’t stand this guy. Do you know why?
It was because of the way he made us do homework. We had these stupid textbooks with a bunch of dumb homework questions printed at the end of every chapter. So guess what our homework was? Yup, it was those questions, perfect for the teacher who didn’t really feel like putting any effort whatsoever into planning out what we were supposed to do after school.
But it wasn’t that he just assigned us a bunch of busy work, it was that he demanded that we write out the entire question in addition to the answer. No other teacher in the school made us handwrite the questions. That’s just dumb. It’s stupid. It’s a complete lack of ability to put yourself in the position of your students. Or, even worse, it’s a total ability to put yourself in the position of your students, and seeing it from that angle, understanding what a total waste of time it is to write out some bullshit question, and then to assign it anyway, man, this guy was probably a total sociopath.
The answers to the questions were in the chapter somewhere. It wasn’t hard. It was a manual cut and paste. But to also make us write out the question? And then what did this guy do with our work when we passed it in? He gave everything a check mark and passed it right back. Gee, thanks so much for giving me back this piece of paper. Instead of you throwing them in the trash all at once, I guess you can kill ten minutes or so passing them all back and having us line up after class to toss them in one by one.
I don’t know why I was thinking of this today, and I know I should let stupid little nonsense like this go, but if I ever run into this guy in the future, I’m going to get in his face, I’m going to be like, “Hey man, what the hell was up with making us write out those questions? Huh? Are you stupid or are you just an asshole? Which one?”