1. tcol4417
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    tcol4417 Member

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    English teachers - legacy

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by tcol4417, Aug 14, 2009.

    I'm writing this partially as a response to another post, but after re-reading it I've decided to make a new thread to get other people's experiences

    I don't know about anyone else but for my entire school life all 4 of my English teachers were awesome. We could learn more about religion and history in a given English class, especially with one old guy called Chris Hardy.

    Mr. Hardy was one of those idealist academics - someone that became genuinely depressed when trying to teach someone stupid/apathetic and was only ever happy when he knew for certain that we'd be leaving the class wiser for the experience. His normal English classes followed the syllabus fair enough (even if we did get sidetracked teasing him with infuriating questions like "Was Shakespeare inspired by Jane Austin?") but English Extension 2 (Australian schools here) was an entirely different experience.

    We'd be given a prompt (optional) and told to write for 30 minutes solid, then we'd read out what we'd managed to come up with and we'd get critiqued by first the class and then the teacher. He really knew how to be brutal and constructive at the same time.

    It wasn't until today that I realised that that was my first writing group and a lot of the understanding I'd gained from the experience is something I'll never be able to thank him for enough for.

    I wonder if all English teachers are this awesome or if I just got lucky?
     
  2. CDRW
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    CDRW Contributing Member Contributor

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    You got lucky, I've only had one english teacher that good, but he was awesome. Shakespeare becomes a whole lot more fun when the teacher explains all the dirty jokes to you, and then you figure out that he was selling sex, violence, and drama just like every other play/tv/moviewrigt before and since.

    He also set up a system for prom where the girls who didn't have a date yet would come to him and he would take down their name so that the guys who were too scared to ask someone out because they might be taken could come to him and find a date. He was the second best teacher I've ever had.
     
  3. natemjames
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    natemjames Banned

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    Yeah, you definitely got lucky, I think.

    I'm trying to think of an English teacher that actually inspired me in any way. It's hard. I always thought my history of teachers was pretty good but now that I think about it, I can't think of too many.

    Usually in classes we'd get sat down, then we'd go through the bog-standard idea of certain people taking certain paragraphs of a book, if we were reading. Often though myself and several others would end up skipping past the sections that were being read, and would frequently finish the book well in advance of the rest of the class..

    I'm interested to see where this thread goes, in terms of wider English teaching. In particular wondering whether it's best to be part of a "high achieving" group, where the people who score well in reading and writing get moved up to a more demanding group, or whether it's better for everyone to be mixed together? So that, in theory, the "more intelligent" pupils teach the "underachieving" ones. I've experienced both, and neither are without their flaws.
     
  4. Ghosts in Latin
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    Ghosts in Latin Senior Member

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    My high-school English teachers were amazing. My teacher for Junior and Senior year was one of the very, very few people I ever looked up to.
     
  5. Demief
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    Demief Member

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    I've had four english teachers to date. My last one was pretty awesome as, you could tell, she really knew and enjoyed what she was talking about. She got that some people weren't good at the subject but still worked hard to make sure they at least passed.

    I've also had a few substitute teachers which were amazingly enthusiastic about their subject. Hopefully i have a few more.
     
  6. Three
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    Three Member

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    I've always hated English class, although I was very good at it. I despise analyzing poetry and literature, tearing it apart letter by letter looking for metaphors for starving children in Africa. Literature is meant to be read and enjoyed, and I suppose I'm saying that if you don't get it, it looses value if somebody has to explain it to you. I don't have a lot of patience for that.
    Honors English was fun, a little more lenient and a lot less patronizing. I suppose I just never had as good English teachers as the rest of you. ;.;

    "...So that, in theory, the "more intelligent" pupils teach the "underachieving" ones." - natemjames
    HA! Not likely.
     
  7. Green Tea
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    Green Tea Banned

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    50/50

    My graduating year of secondary school, I had a great English from the East Indies. Imagine a 190cm, bald, 50-ish man who spoke with a Caribbean accent, and used to make jokes about going home for the lunch hour to "get down" with his wife.

    He lived across the street from the school, and everyone in his classroom could see his backyard from the window. Whenever his wife would put out her little black toy Poodle, our teacher would smile and wave, then under his breath curse the dog. He hated the animal with a passion, because his wife would make him walk it in the street every morning while students were arriving to school. Again imagine this tall, bald, dark skinned gentleman walking a tiny toy poodle with a look of contempt on his face.

    His lessons were the standard affair, Shakespeare, Fitzgerald, Tennessee Williams. But he made it interesting, because he would read everything to us, instead of having us all read aloud in class. He had a great actor's voice and nobody but the lowest pot-head clown slacked off during his lessons. As our end of year project we had to make an analysis of an important work of literature that affected culture in some way or another. I chose 'The Tale of Genji', by Murasaki Shikibu (the world's first novel). After I graduated, he told me that out of his 30 years of teaching, I was the first to chose that novel, and my essay and presentation inspired him to buy the novel and read it for himself.
     
  8. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    I love English :)
    I got lucky as well for my first and last year. Shakespeare was better with my teachers making jokes and all, and they were very knowledgeable.
     
  9. Twisted Inversely
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    Twisted Inversely Senior Member

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    I can remember all the English teachers I had through high school and all are memorable.

    There was, let’s call her Mrs White. Mrs White liked to talk; once she got going you could not shut her up. In fact, she did not so much talk as pontificate on seemingly random subjects. Like the time she was an opera singer (she gave a demonstration, it was awful), how World War I started (that lecture went over several lessons) and it’s sequels “WWII: origins” and the “Cold War: the great arms race”, and the time she met the godfather, you get the picture.

    Then there was Mr Mustard. Mr Mustard had a voice that was the closest thing a human being could get to Microsoft sam without being Stephen Hawking. He liked to read out of textbooks all the time and when students wanted help he quoted the task sheet at them. I believe he is still continuing to bore students today.

    Mr Green (and yes I am channeling Cludo here) put the extension into extension English, literally. Remember that lord of the flies assignment that due one whole term later than the date specified (of course you don’t but I do). One student was sick the whole class got another couple of weeks to draft, sorry kids I didn’t feel like looking through your draft this weekend don’t worry I’ll have them done soon.

    And even if you didn’t do the assignment, just write something funny, it doesn’t have to be related to the course, and if it gets a laugh from him you pass.

    You may not think Mr. Green was a good teacher but he taught one class of precocious, gifted, stress heads the most important lesson of all. Never take life to seriously. No one wants to end up like Mr. Mustard
     
  10. murphcas
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    murphcas Member

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    i had a few really good English teachers. mostly my sophomore and junior year of high school. Both semesters my freshman year of college I had awesome English teachers. The one helped by showing how to write more specific. Every time someone would use the word "things" in explaining something or their writing she'd say "Things? what are these things?". Then my second professor helped me stop writing in run-ons. One day she helped me out with them and the next paper I turned in a barely had any. She was a little over the top when it came to analyzing the stories we read, I thought, but other than that she was awesome! I also had an awesome literature professor this past semester. He made Melville interesting to me, so I have to give him some props haha. So yeah there are great English teachers out there and I think it's sad when people don't experience them. They bring writing and literature into a whole new light.
     
  11. Elistara
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    Elistara Member

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    I never had any memorable English teachers. And I always got Cs in English, though I never knew why, so couldn't do anything about it (or so I thought at the time.. now I wish I had ASKED why I was only getting Cs). I was getting As and Bs elsewhere across the board though, so maybe he thought it brought balance. Or encouraged me. Instead though, it told me I was just hopeless at English, so sadly, I banished the thought of being a writer from my head. Maybe that is why it took me so long to start writing...
     
  12. afinemess
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    afinemess Active Member

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    The best english teacher I had was my tutor. In fifth grade I could barely write, my dyslexia was really bad. I have note books from when I was in fourth grade and I was already wanting to be a writer, and you can hardly make out what I was writing, they were just pages filled with backwards letters. Anyway, she taught me from scratch how to write. I could read just fine, but somewhere between my brain and my hands there was a disconnect. She also told me to just keep reading and it would help. After her, no one compared, especially not my English 101 teacher in college. She was awful, not motivated to teach rather inclined to convince young writers they were failures. Everything I have learned about grammar since my tutor has come from countless summers and night spent reading and self teaching.
     

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