Teachers. If you grew up in a country with a formalized education system, you've probably had some really good teachers, some okay teachers, and quite possibly some really bad teachers. It's the weirdest teachers that are often the best though.
Mrs. Graves was my 2nd grade teacher, and she was an angel. Loved all of her students and treated us all like individual mini humans instead of numbers. She made sure that everyone was working at their own level, whether that meant you were ahead, behind, or with the majority. That's not what makes her weird (this approach to teaching was sorely lacking in the very rural area where I grew up) though. That was because she was absolutely obsessed with pigs.
She had pig pencils, memo paper, letter and number charts, even a pig clock. She read Charlotte's Web aloud to the class, and we watched Babe one afternoon just for fun. I'm honestly surprised we didn't end up taking a field trip to one of the local farms with pigs. Over 20 years later, she is still one of my favorite teachers, and she was certainly weird.
Reddit user WayneCahill asked:
Cravings Musn't Be Ignored
Not so much crazy as hormonal, but I had a pregnant Spanish teacher last period in eighth grade. She was on her eighth month, and was having a lot of hormone swings. She would scream at us for not having the proper pronunciation, then start crying because we were a disappointment, then laugh because she thought of something funny. All within a span of minutes.
Once, we was writing on the board, giving a lecture, when all of a sudden she freezes. For maybe ten seconds, with her arm still up in the air. We start the freak out because we thought maybe her water broke or something, when she goes "I want McDonalds." She then called her boyfriend and starts yelling at him in Spanish to bring her some McDonalds, which he couldn't because he was a bus driver for the school.
A couple days later, she freezes again, then says "I want chicken" and waddles out of the room.
Born To Sing The Blues
My eighth grade music and english teacher was a bit funny. He was a real quiet guy, never raised his voice or anything. If you got 35/40 on a test and you complained about it, he was like "Okay, I guess I can give you 38..." and looked real sad and hurt. He was actually just a substitute, but remained there for a whole year. At the end of that year, when our school at a little concert where students performed, he came on-stage with a guitar and sang a blues-song about how the job always went to another applicant. I don't think I ever saw him smile during his whole year at our school.
How Do You Accidentally Teach Greek?
Mr. Effing. Harris.
This man was well over 6 feet tall but everything he did reminded me of a fantasy-trope dwarf. He made his own clothes. He wore the green vest. He had a massive beard with little beaded braids in it. Bald head. He lived on a mountain and built his own house (possibly from the foundations of another house, that was unclear).
This man had been struck by lightning twice. While building his home, he discovered a mummified cat. He brought it to school and kept it in a closet to show to students on/around Halloween.
He kept a giant dead spider in a terrarium and moved it around after hours. He told us all it was alive but nocturnal, and after several weeks when someone finally called him out on it he pulled out his lesson on the scientific method and told us we should question everything. He also accidentally taught me how to read Greek.
He taught earth sciences.
Mr Harris. God damn, he was a fascinating person. What an introduction to high school.
Engaging Students Is Vital
My American History teacher Junior year was pretty entertaining. Suburban Minnesota HS, smart school, good kids. And Mr. B.
Mr. B served in Vietnam, at what I'm presuming to be a very young age, when I was a Jr., he couldn't have been older than 50 (this is 2004). Mr. B had one of the very few class rooms that had an internal office, which was excellent for hiding from students to have a nip of grandmas ol' cough medicine.
"Vietnam is where I developed my insatiable taste for Jack Daniels." He told us regularly, with a toothy smile.
He told us how he was in charge of guarding and protecting secret documents on some base in a hot zone. He also told us that at first signs of trouble, he was gonna high tail it outta there, documents be damned.
I don't think it was ever total cowardice (which he admitted) so much as making a funny anecdote and trying to win over 11th graders, but I knew he was being honest. He would show us his Kodachrome slides for his tour in Vietnam, and tell us what it was really like there. He was one of my favorite history teachers (and junior year history can be a snooze).
Wouldn't mind sharing a JD with him now and hearing some more of those stories.
Death To The Squirrels
Mrs. Z, taught my grade nine English class. She had this vendetta against squirrels and told this interesting story about them which featured climbing on desks and reenacting getting a rabies shot. She also bough a frozen fish to school (as a prize for a student) which as a class we tied to a string, hung out the window and dangled in front of the windows of the classes floors below us. From the squirrel costume, to the dramatic reading of tell tale heart, to the stash of Halloween wigs in the back of her class (for Shakespeare re-enactment of course) to the giant Dairy Queen cake the class got at the end of the year, Z was great. I had her class at a time when I was feeling a bit down and going to her class I was never bored.
Edit: video of the fish incident [here]
My English teacher from 11th and 12th grade. He was head of the English department and head of Drama. He was also openly gay.
I remember him most because of how he reacted to people messing around in class. He'd halt class for a bit, spend five minutes roasting whatever poor soul(s) pissed him off, then just continue once we all stopped laughing.
The most memorable roast was when he caught someone on YouTube instead of reading. I still remember the exact quote:
"Anton, you are like syphilis on the crotch of the world. Actually, no. We are going to change that from a simile into a metaphor. You *are* syphilis on the crotch of the world. Actually, we'll shorten that even further. Anton, you are just syphilis. Get the hell out of my classroom!"
"Coffee" Softens The Blow
Took a introduction to tech class in 8th grade. It was such an interesting class, a mix of computers, wood working, and art. We would work in pairs on different modules, like wooden sign making, creating websites, building earthquake proof model buildings and other really cool stuff. The teacher knew EVERYTHING about each of these subjects and reminds me a lot of Ron Swanson. Every last day of the quarter he would bring his guitars in and we would all take turns playing and just hanging out.
He found out the last week of school that they weren't offering the course again the next year due to budget cuts, and he'd no longer be a teacher there. He played this country song "take this job and shove it" all period... singing and drinking "coffee" (it had to have been whiskey or something) and had written us all letters wishing us well and thanking us for a great year. What a guy.
12th grade English honors teacher. Her name was Mrs. Sir.
1. She made her husband take her last name when they married in the seventies because she didn't want to be called Mrs. Smith.
2. She was well into her sixties, yet drove a bright neon yellow Harley decorated with spiders and spiderwebs.
3. She would make us stand on our desks or travel the halls screaming "Hail Beowolf!!" When we read Beowulf (and similar shenanigans for other stories)
4. For our final, we could do a written project, diorama, or make a lifesize weapon from one of our stories. I made a spear (out of wood) and we had to take it to the campus at 4am so none of us (including her) would get in trouble.
5. Instead of a test on Chaucers Canterbury Tales, we were given a brown paper bag from the grocery store. We could pick any character from the Tales and try and design a hat out of the bag. You were allowed to add anything you wanted to it, but couldn't cut any of the bag off. People got creative.
6. Whenever we finished our work early, she would tell us stories about how she burned her bras back in the seventies.
7. She made a pact with the other teachers who were her age at that high school (TINY town hs, so the teachers haven't really changed in 45 years) to all retire the same year and when I checked in on the hs, they all went through with it. That school lost a gem of a teacher and hell of a unique person.
Lurk Before You Leap
In seventh grade, I took a course called "Technology," which was taught by a guy who could have been a gay Santa Claus in his mid-forties. (That description of the instructor isn't actually relevant to my story; he was just a really memorable character.) He showed the "Dancing Baby" animation to us during one class period, and predicted that it would become a popular cultural icon. (This was in 1997, for the record.) When we asked how he could tell, he proceeded to inform us about his cardinal rule for using the Internet:
"When I go into a forum," he told us, "I wait around and see what people are talking about. I stay silent, and I get a feel for the sort of conversations that everyone is having, I research what has already been discussed, and I try to recognize the trends in their exchanges." He pointed to the image of the infant on the projector screen. "That movie has been shared *a lot* in the past week or two. People are going to *keep* sharing it. I've just shared it with *you*. That's another important thing to remember: When you *do* start to post, think about how you're coming across— how you write, what you say, and which ideas you're trying to express."
"Always," he said, "lurk before you leap."
I've found that the rule applies in more situations than those that arise online, too. Observation before action pays off in the long run. Sometimes I get a little bit ahead of myself, of course, and dive into conversations before I've looked at the rest of a given thread... but it's nonetheless amazing how much of an impact a little bit of patience can provide.
**TL;DR: My most interesting teacher taught me to politely lurk before leaping.**
Dude hung an empty cereal box from the ceiling above his desk for perhaps a month.
Two weeks before the final exam he told us there was going to be a question about the cereal box on the final. Everyone started examining the box in great detail.
One week before the final he told us what the question was going to be. "What is unusual about the cereal box hanging above Mr. Manley's desk?"
He never told us the right answer, but I'm pretty sure I figured it out, even if it took me 5 years.
He was maybe one of the best teachers I ever had, even though I dismissed him as slightly mental at the time.
Edit: we went over that damn box with a microscope. Compared ingredients with other cereals, looked for typos, checked for coloring abnormalities, everything. Finally we settled on the fact that box featured a picture of a cereal bowl with the spoon resting on the left side instead of the right as the unusual thing.
Nope; that wasn't it.
Five years later I'm a sophomore in college in a Philosophy class. The prof is taking us on a tour of an art gallery and talking about the nature of reality, objectivity and subjectivity. He asks us, what if someone took a discarded tire--any one of the millions and millions sitting in dumps around the world--and put it on a pedestal in the middle of this art gallery, would that be art? And I thought to myself "Holy sh*t, the thing that was unusual about the cereal box is that it was hanging from the ceiling." Mr. Manley was a biology teacher, but he was really trying to teach us to be scientists, or at least to think scientifically. And he was really big on us developing our powers of observation. And the point he made very emphatically was that if you look at something hard enough trying to find something unique, you will, even if you have to manufacture the uniqueness in your own mind.
Edit 2: I'm so happy that Mr. Manley's outstanding teaching lives on in this story and its impact on my life. He's probably passed by now, as he was 60ish in this story, which took place about 37 years ago.
Train Of Thought Jumped The Tracks
Maybe the chemistry professor my sophomore year who would be going over a concept, then go blank for a moment. Like, he'd just stand there for 30 seconds or so. Then he'd whistle and go into a completely unrelated topic for a few minutes - often it would be a ramble about the etymology of a random word, not connected to whatever chemistry concept was at hand.
There was a teacher at my intermediate school that was notorious for throwing rubber ducks at students when they got a question wrong. Literally had a bucket of rubber ducks.
Positive Reinforcement Works
My second grade teacher was pretty awesome. I went to a catholic elementary school in Minnesota and every Friday we would have a spelling test. She made a deal each year with her students that if everyone one got an A (sometimes she would include B's) that she would dance on the desks and we would get candy. Didn't happen often but she was a great teacher. She liked to wear leopard prints and dressed like 50's 60's era- skinny pants, cat eye sunglasses. Most interesting teacher especially for a little kid.
I Feel Tired Just Reading This
Had a math teacher who was also the schools cross country coach. He lived almost 20 miles away and would sometimes run to work in the morning.
He also had to desks arranged in the middle of the classroom so he could jog around the class while he did lectures. Forcing us to move our heads as he ran.
Teaching Just Because He Wanted To
My high school physics teacher. Guy was brilliant and rich. He has/had several patents, and didn't need the income from teaching. Every two years you could see him driving a new sports car (he'd lease). Teaching high schoolers is what he chose to do during his retirement. His room always smelled of burnt coffee and stale smoke.
Example of him teaching the class: You need to start out by figuring out A, B, and C for the equation, and that equals D. waves hand at white board And eventually you'll get this equation where the final answer equals Z.
(He'd skip steps because it was so easy to him. The trick was approaching him after he was done explaining it to the class so he'd break it down for you individually.)
I had an Earth Science teacher in middle school who instructed the entire class to: "Get up and lie down in the back of my pickup truck so that when I drive across the highway, the cops don't see and pull us over."
We were going to look at rocks. Great guy, weird school.
Teach What You Know
AP Psychology teacher was a gulf war vet who converted to Buddhism while in Kuwait. Always had cool stories and teaching methods related to those things, and was the best teacher I've ever had.
Is That You, Jesus?
My Science Teacher Mr. Cash. Oh my God, this man may have been Jesus. He was a hippy who became a beach bun who became a teacher. He had taught for 50 years at my school, and he had taught parents of students and and some grandparents. Also he was a complete wilderness guy, he told us stories about how he would take students to the Maldives, Rocky mountains, caves in Nevada, Australia. He would get kids stuck in quicksand, and would laugh as the sink ( he had known the quicksand spots and they weren't deep enough to kill someone, also quick sand isn't as dangerous as people think). He didn't like standardized testing so he would just put a movie on while we would test so we could be occupied. Monsters Inc. and The Incredibles were the movies we watched. Also when we went on a school trip, he took the whole class through a rock formation called "Fat Mans Squeeze" which was a super tight rock formation, that you could squeeze through. By far the best teacher I've ever had.
My mustachioed British history professor. Every class he'd show up with his pearly white stach where one end is just a bit shorter than the other and a nice suit with tie and silk pocket square and start lecture with a random story. He was the quirky professor everyone wants but is hard to find. He'd also offer fashion advice for the men if they wanted it.
His office was totally cluttered with paper and random notes but it was ornate and looked like an old fashioned gentleman's study. His lectures were surprisingly matter of fact and without bias, like "Well, yes, this action wasn't great, but at the time they had different views on these things and there wasn't much in the way of alternatives..."
Determined To Tell The Truth
At first I thought she was so boring, her lectures seemed to go on forever and contradict themselves.
Turned out she was the real MVP. She understood (as many do after school is over) that the curriculum we were taught doesn't always have the whole truth.
Her lectures took so long because she'd start with "this is what I'm supposed to teach you and to expect on the state mandated exams" and end the lectures with "and here's what really happened".
Things were way more interesting once I paid attention to what she said, and I credit her for my thirst for truth.