I've written before about a couple of my outstanding teachers. They are extremely memorable for me because they were strict disciplinarians. I've always been pretty laid back about studying - just did enough to get by. Their requirements forced me to perform and I hated it. However, as time went by, it was obvious even to me that their methods got results.
They weren't the only teachers to leave an impression on me and my education. My junior high English teacher - who also was my Debate teacher - helped mold me in a more laissez-faire manner. Her teaching method was more subtle - she provided the information and the clues - and when we caught on, we learned it. In a sense, we were allowed to discover and retain what we learned. She wasn't gonna force it down our throats, feeding us spoonful by spoonful, but she'd put it in a bowl in front of us for our consumption. The foundations in English she built were solid - and my more disciplinary teacher was able to build on that rather effectively.
She also taught debate - I had her for four years. I know I had to be somewhat of a disappointment to her because of my attitude. I was more into competition and the travel than the really necessary preparations that made winning a more certain proposition. In other words, I liked the fun part. I was a good enough speaker that I could usually bee ess my way through a debate - building up or tearing down an argument without using much in the way of evidence gathered through intensive research. That approach worked until I ran into someone who did the necessary work and was an equal or better speaker. Some years later, I admitted this to her, and she told me she'd warned me repeatedly and she wasn't about to beat me over the head about it at the time. If I wanted the opportunity - she was there to help. If I just wanted to goof off, she wasn't going to waste a bunch of time trying to force me to do the research.
So, what did she teach me? Nothing more than how to organize my thoughts and present them in a coherent, logical manner in a limited time. Nothing more than a very shy nerd being able to stand in front of a crowd and speak intelligently. Nothing more than the building blocks of proper written English and an appreciation of same - she's the one who first steered us towards the classics. English, debate and forensics are still a passion for her, even though she's retired now.
I've kept in touch with her over the years. I used to volunteer to be a judge at the debates she used to host at our high school. When we all started going online, we exchanged email addys - it's been undoubtedly cool to find we share political views and the same warped sense of humor. She's even discovered Facebook (how cool is that?) - so I catch her on there as well. I guarantee you she's got a load of former students as her pals. Conversations with her are always fun - I ran into her the other day at el Marto de Wal, when I threatened to write this about her. So, finally, I get around to it. I'm sure that's nothing new to her regarding moi. Heh.
So, Carolin Sue Gechter - I thank you for teaching me. I just might have learned more than you thought I did - even though it took a while to sink in!