Many teachers think they are the only ones offering education from their pinnacle of supremacy. I, however, know that this is not true. A wise educator learns much more from his pupils than they derive from him. Certainly, on occasion, my mouth has fallen open in delight, shock, or amazement from my assigned individuals. One class, in particular, stands out in my memory. The whole class was brilliant! How amused they must have been to encounter me. I have never thought that boredom led to entrapment or involvement in the learning process, so many former students still smile and tell me they had so much fun in my English class.
Brilliant students, contrary to what many believe, are a challenge to teach. They already know so much and rarely enjoy playing the game of “catch-up” for those less gifted. For example, I remember this class first involved me in the learning process gifted. For example, I remember this class first involved me in the learning process concerning a missing contact lens. How amused they must have been to sit patiently and quietly in their seats while I found a broom and meticulously swept the floor. Having no dust pan, I used a piece of paper. I well knew their being seated meant less of a chance for hearing the sound of a splintered contact under the feet of many. I had already heard how disapproving parents would be at the loss (and possibly blame the school). Today, I wonder if they were delighted at my futile exercise—the girl had placed both contact lenses in one eye!
Rather than just telling the students that a test was a very important one, I said, “O. K., this is family living—if you do not prepare for this test, you may be repeating this class or, at the very least, receive a very low grade.” They sat quietly and attentively but were planning to instruct me as well. Family Living, you see, was a very boring school text pertaining to sex. Quite delighted with themselves, they found a copy of this tome and brought it to me wrapped in brown paper. This might have been the same day they presented me with a copy of Play Girl Magazine. For the reader who has no idea what this offering has, it is a magazine with quite handsome clothed young men on one side and totally nude pictures of them on the other. I certainly learned two valuable lessons that day and smuggled both of those offerings out of school to the trash as soon as possible. I can only think what an interview about them with the principal would have been!
Later in the year, I entered my locked classroom to an odor found only in a funeral home of a very loved and deceased individual. There on my desk was a galvanized bucket full of rose buds, each the size of a closed fist. Colors such as green, purple, black, pink, red and white added to the usual plain décor. The whole building was redolent with the fragrance. I was certain someone’s prized rose garden had been denuded that morning. I lugged the heavy bucket into the closet, locked it, and hoped to keep the incident quiet. All day, students would come in and ask “What is that smell.” I would reply, “I don’t know; it smells like a funeral home, doesn’t it.” Maybe my geniuses were not involved, but I bet so.
At a faculty meeting, the principal read out the list of this class and asked, “Who teaches these students.” No one admitted to doing so. He added, “Now, I know someone teaches them – who.” I asked, “What did they do.” What they had done was make the highest grades ever in a standardized test. Then I admitted I did; however, the truth was that they taught me.