Another Bad Teacher

by Tina Blue
June 25, 2001

          Many of the articles I write for this website are critical of teachers (especially of English teachers) and of the educational system generally.

          But you must not think that I disapprove of all teachers.  Don't forget, I am a teacher myself, and an English teacher at that.  I know that many teachers are intelligent, dedicated people who struggle to educate their students despite the innumerable obstacles the benighted educational system raises against their efforts.

          But there really are some awful teachers out there, you know.

          I'd like to give you an example of one kind of bad teacher I have often encountered.  I am quite sure you will recognize the type.

          In the summer of 1974 Bob, my husband at the time, and I took a group of students on the Kansas University study-abroad program to Spain, as we had also done the two previous summers.  As director of the program, Bob was in a position to hire Paul, an old friend from his graduate student days, to act as his assistant director.

          Paul had been teaching at the University of Wisconsin, but he had been denied tenure, so his job there would be over at the end of the coming academic year.  His future was dicey, and he was very glad to accept the offer of summer employment.

          The language classes for the summer institute were taught by Spanish profesoras, but the American professors, Bob and Paul, taught the higher level literature courses.

          Paul joined us for dinner after the first day of classes.  I am still disgusted when I recall how he described his initial encounter with his students.

          "I hit them right off with symbolism," he crowed.  "It blew them out of the water--they had no idea what I was talking about!"

          He was so proud of himself.

          Some people become teachers because they want to teach.  But some become teachers because they want to show off their own superiority by bullying and discouraging those who know less than they do.

          Fortunately, after the subsequent academic year the students in Wisconsin would never have to deal with Paul again.  But I am quite sure that he ended up teaching somewhere else--and that he is still teaching somewhere, even now, delighting in how easy it is to run rings around the people we are supposed to be teaching.

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