Wednesday, March 17, 2010

That Teacher is a LOSER

Recently, a teacher wrote the words, "loser" on a child's exam in North Carolina. 

Now, North Carolina is a place that Peter wants to stay the hell away from because BAD THINGS have happened in North Carolina. A childhood friend of his was arrested for a crime he didn't commit and almost got convicted. So whenever we drive through that state, Peter wants to go AS FAST AS POSSIBLE, which is why we've gotten several speeding tickets there. 

Everyone has a lot of opinions about this one, but I've had my share of mean teachers. Mr. Catapano used to hand out exams and make snide comments right along the lines of "loser." Boy, was he a jerk. But back in those days, kids just sucked it up. No one ever complained to his/her mom about it, I don't think. 

The thing is that as a child, I looked up to my teachers, and I think that teachers tend to forget what it was like to be a child. An adult can say something offhand to another adult and know that whatever is said is taken with the same intent that it was said. Uhm...did I just take you down a corn maze? You got that, right? 

Children, on the other hand, tend to internalize things more and blow small stuff out of proportion. 

I remember in second grade, when my family first moved to Bergen County, New Jersey, I attended the public elementary school and LOVED my teacher Ms. Adams. I thought she was so cute with her curly brown hair and I had never encountered anyone that young who was a teacher. 

I had transferred to that school from a Catholic school in Queens which hadn't started teaching us how to read. And keep in mind, that I had just arrived in America just a year before that--so I was learning Taiwanese and English at the same time as well as trying to keep up with my first language,  Japanese. 

So yeah, I didn't learn how to read! 

One afternoon, Ms. Adams had us sit in a circle and she had her students take turns reading from our textbook. When it came time for me to start reading, I had such a difficult time sounding out the words, and I could tell that she was getting impatient, which, of course, made me all the more stumbly and stupid and made me stumble over words I already knew. Let's just say I don't do well under pressure. 

At one point, Ms. Adams took her big spiral teacher's textbook, raised it and whacked me over the head with it. Of course, I was still trying to read the words, but as I was reading, I was crying and it was SO embarrassing. The other kids just kind of stared because Ms. Adams was usually nice and this reaction was completely out of left field for us. 

Now, I don't know how Ms. Adams felt about it--she sure didn't look very sorry at the time, she just seemed SO ANGRY. And I was scared at just how angry she was--thinking back, it was SUCH a huge deal for me, but it was probably just a little blip for her. 

This memory will be with me FOREVER and that is what teachers need to understand when they deal with kids. 

Teachers represent learning and bad teachers make kids not want to learn. 

Oh, and by the way, I got into a Master's program for English that only accepts ten students out of 2,000---so even though I got off to a slow start, I'm doing just FINE with my reading skills. 

No comments: