because life doesn’t fit in a file folder

The Good, the Bad & the Naughty: Guest Post by Paul Waters

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Ain't he a cutie?

My guest blogger today is Paul Waters, and he is one of the very first people I met when I landed in the blogosphere. Paul is originally from Belfast, but this guy has slept around! I mean, he’s lived in England, Romania, Wales, the United States, Germany, Poland, South Africa, and both ends of Ireland. 

For his teacher memory, Paul went off-roading. Instead of writing about just one teacher, he wrote about a few: one good, one bad, and one naughty. Half the fun is in figuring out which is who. 

Check out Paul’s fantastic blog HERE. And follow him at Twitter at @VillageIP. He’s quite brilliant.

 • • •

The Good, the Bad and the Naughty

1. Mr. T. taught me in Primary 4, so I was eight or nine years old. That age when you open your mouth and embarrassing things come out. Like the time I absent-mindedly addressed him as Mummy. The shame.

Mr. T. blamed me for losing the blackboard duster. But it wasn’t my fault.

Honest.

This is what happened.

Mr. T had a sweet tooth!

Mr. T. used to prowl the classroom sneaking a peek at everyone’s packed lunch. If he saw a shiny chocolate bar wrapper or some cake, he’d pounce and snaffle it. Does that count as bullying? Abuse? Theft? Or was he simply an early adopter of the notion that schoolchildren should only eat healthy food like fruit and vegetables?

I decided he wasn’t getting his thick fingers on my lunch, so when he came snooping, I closed my lunchbox and ducked away. A chase ensued – much to the amusement of the rest of the class. He was big but lumbering. I was nippy and kept out of reach.

In exasperation, he threw the duster at me. It was a habit of his – a way to get the attention of boys who were nodding off.  But he already had my full attention. I didn’t want to get clobbered by the chalky duster with the hard wooden handle – so I ducked.

The duster flew past me and out the first floor window. Down to where a new lady teacher was being shown round by our gruff headmaster.

He wasn’t pleased to be clonked on the shoulder by a flying wooden duster.

Apparently it was all my fault. For ducking.

• • •

2. Mr G. had a white sports car. It was very unusual and very low slung for Belfast. Very daring, in fact, because with all the ramps around the city (at army and police checkpoints) he risked having the chassis ripped off any time he went for a drive. I imagine he drove gingerly rather than speedily.

Cool car, right?

Mr G. looked a real character – long hair, flared trousers, colourful jacket. He wasn’t podgy like most male teachers either. There was definitely something about him. He was eye-catching. He wore a long Afghan coat. His appearance, and the rumours about him, hinted at after-school involvement in the music scene and clubs.

He was a living embodiment of the alternative possibilities to keeping your head down and choosing the safe route.

• • •

3. Mr. W. was a foreigner, teaching his native language to eager students. It was that all too rare scenario where every pupil paid attention all of the time.

One pupil prided himself on having read more in the language than the rest and considered himself to be a cut above. In fact, he wanted to be a teacher himself. With that aspiration in mind, he was not slow to correct Mr. W. when he felt the need. This led to some interesting exchanges.

Keep in mind that the student in question had never been to a country where the language being taught was spoken. Nor had he previously met a native speaker.

Nevertheless, he didn’t let that stop him from displaying his “superior” knowledge and forcefully disagreeing with Mr. W. at every opportunity.

In recognition of this pupil’s commanding performance, Mr. W decided to “reward” him with a long list of “advanced vocabulary” to learn – colloquial similes.

Naturally, the outstanding student was delighted to be singled out in this way and enthusiastically learned it all – the better to regale the rest of us with his knowledge.

Now, that is just crew-el!

You may meet this student some day. You’ll know it when you hear him repeat the phrase: “as round as a Spaniard.” Or maybe: “as happy as a cupboard.”

Yes. I’m sorry to say that Mr. W. had wreaked vengeance by creating a completely fake list.

So which is which? Who’s the good one? Who’s the bad one? And who’s the naughty one?

• • •

The good one is Mr T. When he wasn’t throwing dusters, whacking boys with rulers or stealing their lunches, he was inspiring, charismatic and enthusiastic.

The bad one is Mr. G. He cared a lot about cutting a dash, but hardly at all about the children in his class. They stewed and stagnated while he dreamed. Their dreams were put on hold.

Which means the naughty one was Mr. W. He abused his position to mislead a student whose only offence was being seriously annoying and outrageously arrogant. (Okay, two offences then.) On the other hand, the precocious student of English as a foreign language was basing his “expertise” solely on Polish and Russian textbooks. And creating and giving to him the list of fake similes was tremendous fun.

Hee hee.

And I haven’t done it again since I left my teaching post in Poland.

Still laugh about it though.

Which of your teachers were real characters? Did any of them play tricks on you? Throw something at you? Who showed you the good, the bad and the naughty?

 • • •

If you have writing chops and are interested in submitting a memory about a teacher you had and can explain how that person helped you (or really screwed things up for you), as well as the life lesson you took away from the interaction, I’d love to hear from you! Contact Me. Essays should be around 700-800 words.

If you write for me, I’ll put your name on my page of favorite bloggers!