Describe the worst teacher you ever had.
I don’t know if I would consider this man THE worst teacher I ever had or if I even could because he never really ever taught me a subject per se. He was actually a coach and a PE teacher but back in the stone ages when I was in high school the men taught the boys PE and the girls had women teachers. He did however also teach driver’s education which was like a short little mini course. Let me ‘splain it Lucy.
Back in the day, when I was a mere teenager, you could get your “learner’s permit” I think when you were 15 and a half but to get your license you had to be 18 unless you took a driver’s education course in which case you could get it at 16. You had to have a permission form signed by your parents in order to take the driver’s ed course which if I remember correctly was about a 4 or 6 week course. I can’t remember if you took it every day or not. It doesn’t seem like we did but my memory is a little fuzzy on that point. I do remember it was a long waiting list to take the course and it went by alphabetical order but in the order received. In other words, during the current course time, any one applying for the course would be added to the list alphabetically until the next course of study.
To add to the wait time, my parents did not see any particular need for me to get my license in any big hurry since I didn’t have a vehicle at my disposal so I was already 16 before I could even get them to agree to let me try for my learner’s permit and sign the consent form. I think I was closer to 17 when I actually got approved for the course and I only got on the list when I did because the boy who was supposed to take it at that time (whose last name started with CARR) passed away suddenly and unexpectedly which left an opening and since my name started with CART I was lucky enough to take the course before I turned 17. I always felt guilty because of that. I’m not sure why but I did. Maybe in my warped teenage sense of thinking I thought that maybe I prayed so hard to be able to take the course that I was somehow responsible for his early demise? I know… silly, but I somehow thought it must be my fault. If I hadn’t wanted to drive SO badly…. Anyway…..
This was back in the 70’s when integration was still fresh in some people’s minds and not all people were as accepting of the idea as others. I was always a very open minded person but there were certain adults, some of them teachers, who were still not too keen on the notion. I’m talking teachers who were both white and black who were not accepting of students of whichever race they were not. The teacher that I lucked out to teach me driver’s education, I had never had for any other class. I really knew nothing about him as a person and had no reason to disrespect, distrust, or dislike him. Physically, to me, he was an imposing type of man. Very large and though I had seen him be very jovial with some people, he was NOT with me. He was very gruff with me, which added with the physical imposing stature, scared me. And from the very first day of our course he gave me the immediate impression that he not only did not like me but he gave me the impression that he greatly disliked me!
It wasn’t even any particular thing he said or did to me. It was his overall demeanor and the great disparity of how he treated me and the other student who took the course with me. This particular teacher was black and I really do think he (the teacher) held some prejudice in his heart. I may be way off on my feelings and if I am, I apologize for that but I got the distinct feeling that he really did not like white people. Maybe he just really did not like me. Maybe since he was a coach and PE teacher he just liked kids who were athletic, which I wasn’t in the least. Maybe he particularly liked kids who were athletic and black, which I wasn’t either. Again, maybe he just didn’t like me and the fact that I was white and not only NON athletic, but downright klutzy (and insecure) didn’t help matters.
The girl who happened to be slotted with me during the course was a gifted athlete. She played basketball and softball and she played them both well. I couldn’t catch a ball unless you threw it at my head and I caught it between my eyes! And maybe he sensed that I was afraid of him and played it up to intimidate me. Add to that my meager experience that I had with others teaching me to drive and the examples I had to follow.
The first time my mother attempted to teach me to drive (maybe I should correct that by saying first and last) it was snowing. Yes, I know…WHO in their right mind would attempt to teach a teenager to drive on a snow slick back road? I guess I answered my own question. By the time it came to teach me to drive, she had already been through this 4 times and I am sure had no patience left to try to teach me. I think the very thought of letting me behind the wheel with her in the car scared the bejeezus out of her. Needless to say I had not driven very far with my mother when due to the fact it was icy and snowing I slid into a ditch and that was THE END of my driving lessons from my mother. She drove the rest of the way home then handed me the keys and told me if I wanted to learn to drive I’d have to take the car and go by myself and if I got scared I could just pull over to the side of the road and walk home!
Add to this the fact that both my mom and dad were little speed demons on the road so all my guided expertise had been watching these two speed junkies plow down the back roads and me trying to teach myself to drive like them. I guess, in hindsight, I might not have been the most impressive student he’d ever seen but I thought I was doing pretty well to be mostly self taught!
Anyway, our days out on the open road in my driver’s ed class consisted mainly of the other student getting to do about 75% of the driving and me getting yelled at with him constantly slamming on the brakes on his side of the floorboards or jerking the wheel while I was driving. I remember several times that she (the other student) would totally run a stop sign and he would gently lay his hand on her arm and remind her with a “Sweetie, there was a stop sign right back there that you were supposed to stop at!” and since I was already scared to death of him I made sure I always stopped thoroughly at every stop sign, look both ways, twice, and most times as I would start to pull off he’d slam on his brake and when I’d ask why he did it he’d bark at me “You were supposed to stop at the STOP sign!” And when I’d say that I did he’d hrummph at me and slam on the brake again for emphasis! It was like I could do nothing right.
I remember one particular incident when we were on a gravel back road and he instructed me to pull in someone’s driveway and turn around. First there was plenty of room in their driveway that I could have pulled all the way in and made a loop and come back out but no, he wanted me to stop right as I pulled into the drive and back out in the opposite direction. Every time I would start to back up he would slam on his brake. When I’d ask what was wrong he’d say “Nothing. Just start again.” And every time he’d slam on the brakes. After about the sixth time of him doing this I was becoming very frustrated and asked him what I was doing wrong and did he want us to switch drivers? He said no, I was doing fine… I just needed to use my mirrors to back up instead of looking over my shoulder… WTH? Can’t you see better by looking over your shoulder than using the mirror? The mirror had blind spots! So then I would glance over my shoulder, then using the mirrors I would start to back up and he would still slam on the brakes. He did this about three times until I finally got it out of him that he didn’t want me to look over my shoulder at all… JUST use the mirrors. I swear I think it took me 20 minutes to get out of that driveway because he kept slamming on the brakes so much. Plus the fact that it was a gravel road, every time he’d slam on the brakes the tires would slide and then he’d fuss at me because the tires slid.
I don’t think that he was a bad teacher. I just think he was a bad teacher for me. We did not mesh AT ALL and I feel like I didn’t really learn anything from him other than maybe tolerance for back seat drivers. Well, in his case, FRONT seat drivers. I’m sure he was probably a good teacher for maybe other students that he had a tolerance for. He just didn’t seem to have a tolerance for me. To this day I don’t really know what it was that he didn’t like about me and I can speculate til the cows come home but the truth of the matter is, it doesn’t really matter in the big scheme of things. I can drive and despite what some people may think, I AM a safe driver, albeit a fast one. But I’m working on that.