A Teacher’s Impact

I heard a piece on the radio the other morning about how a college professor had completely changed the personal views of the radio host.   The professor did it by patiently teaching and discussing his positions.  Over time, the student realized that he needed to do a 180 with his philosophy.  The professor completely changed his life’s path.

The power of a great teacher.

I had an English teaching in Junior High.  His name was Mr. Kaplan.  I’m not sure if anyone liked Mr. Kaplan.  I don’t think he cared.  He wasn’t in the job to be liked; he was a teacher to teach.  His teaching schedule was completely predictable.  Homework was due on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  It was assigned one week in advance.  There were no excuses allowed for not doing the homework, including illness.  He would say, “The homework is posted on the blackboard.  If you are sick, have someone look through the window and bring you the assignment.  The IRS doesn’t care if your dad is sick on April 15th.  It will still expect his taxes to be paid.”   Mr. Kaplan was teaching us personal responsibility.

Once a week, we had an in-class writing assignment called the “20-line Paper.”  At the start of class, we would count down 20 lines, put a mark on the 20th line, then start writing down to the line.  I can’t remember if the topics were assigned or if we could write about anything.  There were strict grading criteria.  To get full credit, the paper needed to include alliteration, onomatopoeia, and a few other items that I can’t remember.  What I do remember is learning (or trying to learn) how to write a paragraph.

Another thing that Mr. Kaplan taught was the skill of developing an opinion and then defending it.  Without understanding what a Devil’s Advocate was, I watched Mr. Kaplan take us all on, probing and “attacking” our opinions.  Nothing was off limits.  Looking back at it, I now understand that he was trying to teach us to think through an idea or concept and not to just parrot back what our friends’ opinions were.  We needed to take ownership of our thoughts–another lesson in personal responsibility.

As I mentioned, I never much liked Mr. Kaplan.  However, he was one of the best teachers that I had.  He taught much more than English.  He helped develop character.

Have you had a teacher that made a difference in your life?


One Response to “A Teacher’s Impact”

  1. CALIFORNIA GIRL :o) Says:

    Who was that Science teacher that you would talk about every night at the dinner table? I cannot remember his name! We use to joke about it because you loved this teacher and told us about his class every night at dinner.

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