Polimicks

Leftist commentary from a mouthy bitch

Can you point to an event or time period that turned you off something important?

I can name a couple right off the top of my head.

I’m actually pretty good at math. However, I am also highly avoidant of math. I could have been even better at math, except for my seventh grade math teacher.

I’m pretty sure I mentioned this before. In seventh grade, my math teacher encouraged me to try out for the Math Relay team. I did. And made it. And politely declined because I had discovered that smoking pot was a far more entertaining hobby, and because I didn’t think my already shattered reputation could take the dual slung stones of “slut” and “nerd.” Ok, that last part was wishful thinking. I’d already blown the grading curve on every assignment ever assigned, it was too late. But the Math Relay team would have cut severely into my pot-smoking time, and on top of that, I had crippling stage fright and thought I was a whale. So, getting up in front of a roomful of strangers to do algebra on a blackboard, was pretty much up there in my top ten list of things I really didn’t want to ever do.

Once I turned down the invite for the Math Relay team, I couldn’t seem to do anything right in her class. I think I salvaged a B, but I’d had to fight for it. Mostly I got C’s from her, because she suddenly instituted a “show your work” policy, and to that point, I’d done everything in my head. If she couldn’t read something, she’d mark it off, she’d find reasons to tell me I’d fucked up the answer, even if it was right.

By the time I got to 8th grade algebra, I was a wreck about math. I constantly second guessed myself, changed answers from correct answers to wrong answers. When Mrs. Parker, my 8th grade teacher, decided to tutor me, she was absolutely astounded at the sheer number of times I’d put down the right answer, only to erase it and replace it with a wrong answer. I didn’t trust my ability anymore, if I thought it was right, it must be wrong.

My math skills are still pretty good by the standards of being an adult who hasn’t taken a math class in close to 15 years. I can do percentages and fractions with scratch paper, I can calcuate tips in my head, but if you ask me, I will tell you that I suck at math. Because I was convinced that I did by that long ago 7th grade math teacher with a grudge.

The other was my Sophomore Orchestra teacher. I will full on state, by way of disclaimer, that I am not a fan of the Mormon church. Many Mormons are really awesome people, and I’ve had some really good Mormon friends, but I’d have to say I view it with the same level of suspicion and mistrust that I have for the Catholic Church, or any Fundamentalist Christian organization.

Said Orchestra teacher was very well thought of in the Mormon church and had been teaching several kids in his Ward for years, violin, viola, cello and bass. The public school system, in response to pressure from parents instituted the Orchestra class, opposite Marching Band, my Sophomore year. As I played both flute and violin, and did not fancy marching, I opted for Orchestra.

First day of class, I walk in, black shirt with chains attached, yards of black eyeliner, painted on jeans, studded cowboy boots, and rocker chick hair (don’t judge, it was the 80s). It was hate at first sight. Only I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand why he didn’t like me, even though I picked up on it right away. I tried being nicer, I tried being more helpful, early to class, etc… Nothing worked. He despised me.

Partway through the semester, he arranged for us to take part in a two day symposium at the college. I told him that I was struggling in Geometry, and didn’t want to take two days off, that it would tank my grade. He told me, in no uncertain terms, that if I didn’t go, he would fail me. No matter what. I could show up for the rest of the year, and ace every test, and he would fail me. No ifs, ands, or buts.

So I cut class for the rest of the semester.

One of the guys in the class, just ditched the symposium, didn’t say a thing.

Got a B.

I pretty much dropped the violin after that. He’d made it so… toxic for me.

I love music, and I loved the violin. I’d just gotten past the screechy stage and could make recognizable, lovely music. And I just lost interest after that.

Because he was the only orchestra teacher in school district.

Now, we did move, but none of my other schools had orchestras, maybe if they had, I’d have gone back. But they didn’t. So, I pretty much just dropped it.

Good teachers can transport and inspire and make you want to do better, and bad teachers can fuck your shit up but good. Because when you’re a kid, who are the arbiters of what is right and wrong? Your parents and your teachers. When teachers take their issues out on kids in their classes, they fuck up innocent victims.

I’ve had some awesome teachers: Mr. Damsel who taught history in Ohio, Mrs. Link my seventh grade comp teacher, who used to give me maximum page limits on my writing assignments instead of minimums, Mrs. Parker, who did her best, but it is so easy to damage and so hard to heal.

This entry originally posted at http://polimicks.dreamwidth.org/

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10 comments on “Can you point to an event or time period that turned you off something important?

  1. garpu
    June 5, 2010

    Odd you should post this today…I got told in high school by my high school orchestra teacher that my compositions were “crude and unsophisticated” and that I’d never amount to anything as a composer. (or get anywhere with it.) All I could think about going into my defense today was that 10th grader proud of her newest composition getting stomped on by some asshole. Logically I knew my committee wasn’t going to say that. (They liked my recital, after all), but that hurt doesn’t just go away.
    The graduate advisor says I should send him a graduation announcement.

    Like

    • polimicks
      June 6, 2010

      I agree, one hundred percent. Perhaps include a picture of you flipping him the bird.

      Like

      • garpu
        June 6, 2010

        That might be a bit too subtle…

        Like

      • polimicks
        June 6, 2010

        A whole line of us flipping him the bird?

        Like

      • garpu
        June 6, 2010

        could work…

        Like

      • polimicks
        June 7, 2010

        We can make this work.

        Like

      • garpu
        June 7, 2010

        Even better if the picture is with my diploma.

        Like

      • polimicks
        June 7, 2010

        YES!

        Like

      • garpu
        June 13, 2010

        Okay, we really need to make this happen now. (See my LJ for details.) Going to be 2-3 months before I get the diploma, however, but we’re planning on getting married out here.

        Like

  2. palereverie
    June 5, 2010

    This is why I hate all the a-holes that insist students need teachers to learn :/ Teachers get away with being physically abusive, intimidating students, not to mention submitting them to their petty politics, biases, and whims.
    It’s why I cheer when I hear the dropout rate is going up.

    Like

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This entry was posted on June 4, 2010 by in Uncategorized.

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