Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Wreck of the Hesperus

I just read a blog post from Joy Unexpected about her bad experience with a teacher. It really made me ponder and brought up two bad memories. There could possibly be many more, but who knows? Since I can't remember crap, these are the ones that have stayed lodged in my brain, taking up precious room I could better use for remembering where I left my glasses.

When I was in 6th grade, my teacher, Ms. Olbis (yeah, I'm using her real name - find it on the Internet and just TRY to explain your point of view, you old hag) had a parent conference with my mother. Rationally and calmly, she told her that I would NEVER go to college. She could always tell the students who were not going to go to college. My mother was horrified and has told this story a hundred times. Hey, you old bag of pus, guess what? I went to college, I have my Master's degree, I'm a librarian/teacher who was voted Teacher of the Year and I have my NATIONAL BOARD CERTIFICATION!! I would like to find her, tell her this, and then kick her in the ass.

But the worst teacher story happened when I was a freshman in high school. It's so bad, I have totally blocked out the teacher's name. In elementary school, we had to memorize and recite poetry. Anyone else have to do this? How come they don't make kids do this now? Oh, yeah, they don't have time because they are too busy playing video games. Anyone for flashlight tag? Anyone nowadays know how to play that? And remember how we had to come home when the streetlights came one?

Yeah, well, I could still recite "The Wreck of the Hesperus" for you to this very day. I am totally serious. I recited it in college for a talent show. Didn't win, though. Anyhoo. When I got to high school and found out we had to memorize and recite a poem, I was in high cotton. I was a skinny little wall flower, but I could memorize and recite!! I memorized the poem "Daffodils" and was good to go. It is a symptom of my trauma that I have no idea how this poem goes to this very day. I stood up and began to recite my poem, so full of pride and happiness.

The teacher said sharply "Stop rocking!" I didn't even realize I was rocking. Apparently, to aid the memory process, I was swaying back and forth as I recited. I began again. Even louder, she shrieked "Stop rocking!". I stopped, flustered, nervous and upset. I swallowed and began again. She stepped closer to me and again screamed "Stop rocking!" And then she added, "Or just SIT DOWN!". Tears filled my eyes as I stumbled to my desk. I buried my head in my arms on my desk and didn't look up until the class was over. She had to know I was crying under there. She had to know I was traumatized and upset. She had to know how happy and proud I had been.

I think she did it on purpose. I think she was mean and evil and cruel. What difference did it make that I was rocking? None. It was horrible. Hateful. Traumatic and upsetting for a shy young girl. This happened more than 40 years ago. The memory of my shamed humiliation is as clear as if it happened yesterday.

I wish I could remember her name. I'd like to kick her ass too.


Anonymous said...

Well Mrs. Who, you sure are kicking a lot of butts today! It's Spring, be happy!
You need to send a thank you to Ms.Olbis for pushing you so far.
As far as Ms. "stop rocking" you should just forget about her. She is just plain mean.
Lesson learned, more on. :)
Raggedy Ann

Anonymous said...

Gee, I can't believe I missed one of Mom's stories. I never heard the one about some old bitch saying you were never going to college. Boy, was that old crone wrong. You're smart as a whip dear girl and have successfully taught the entire family "never argue with a librarian, they know everything." And we believe you! Thankfully, for every old bitch like those two, there are many wonderful and talented teachers like you.

Oh yeah, and I had to memorize as well. We were a different generation of students and we actually had to use our head and get a good grade before we could get promoted. None of this "no child left behind" crap. Mine was "Oh Captain, My Captain" and I know it all to this very day. I guess we had to "burn" it into our memories and somehow, you never forget.
Lucy's Mom

Nikky said...

I think those horrible teachers must take summer classes on how to be horrible, because I had one my sophomore year tell me that my writing was AWFUL, and I really should consider something else for my future.
I am a published poet, and have (thanks to NaNoWriMo) just written a novel... the day I get it published, I will be sending her a copy... personalized with nasty things to say!