How to inspire teenage graduates in 25 words or less?
March 17, 2008 4:10 PM   Subscribe

Asking for a friend: I'm looking for a short story/anecdote/or whatever that encapsulates the teacher/student relationship. A sentence, short story, poem, song or novel where the point is that education doesn't end at graduation and that teachers - in their infinite adult wisdom - will always have something to learn from their students.
posted by Elmore to Education (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Alan Ginsberg on Dylan in Scorcese's mind-blowing documentary No Direction Home: "I reckon if the student isn't better than the teacher, you haven't done your job."
posted by wemayfreeze at 4:32 PM on March 17, 2008

Best answer: Have you read Frindle? It's a young adult novel, but this theme is definitely a large part of it.
posted by interrobang at 4:37 PM on March 17, 2008 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I'll tell you a story.

When I was 6 and a half, I started Grade 2 in my third school. I was always a quiet, obedient kid, and so when I needed to go to the toilet, I raised my hand, as we were supposed to. Unfortunately, this was while the teacher, Mrs Newman, was asking students to give math answers, and she didn't call on me. No sweat, I kept my hand raised after the question was answered. This annoyed her, the question was answered, and here was a hand still raised. She told me to put it down. Obedient kid that I was, I put my hand down and then raised it again. I really really had to go. This frustrated her so much that she hit me (teachers were allowed to back then- this was in '74 in Australia) and told me to keep my hand down.

What's a kid to do? I sat tight, hoping to hold on till the next break, but my poor little bladder couldn't cope and I wet myself. Mrs Newman was horrified and apologetic, because at the point, she instantly understood what was going on, and like any long-term grade 2 teacher, she had a spare supply of undies in the back of the room. "Why didn't you make a noise," she asked me, but I couldn't answer that, because as far as I was concerned, I'd run through all the possible options.

Now, if the story ended there, it'd be just like any other "peed-my-pants" story. But it didn't. Ten years later, when I'd moved schools again (um 4 more times) and hadn't seen her since grade 2, she visited my mother at home. When she saw me, she grabbed me in a tight hug, and thanked me for the lesson I'd given her.

I would have forgotten that whole pee incident, except for that. Funnily enough, Mrs Newman's behaviour and consequent apology to me positively affected me as a parent, and I have always tried to be ready for lessons from little people.
posted by b33j at 4:42 PM on March 17, 2008 [2 favorites]

oh sorry, I didn't read your title - I guess this won't work for teen grads.
posted by b33j at 4:43 PM on March 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks interrobang. I hadn't heard of it until now, but it sounds perfect.

Thanks wemayfreeze.
posted by Elmore at 4:49 PM on March 17, 2008

Response by poster: B33j, It's funny when I began reading your post I started to think it was going to be a "fight the powah" "Teachers SUCK" post. Thankfully I was wrong, it's a really good example of what I'm after. Thank you.
posted by Elmore at 4:56 PM on March 17, 2008

Response by poster: Of course Frindle isn't available to buy on Amateurs.
posted by Elmore at 5:17 PM on March 17, 2008

Aha, but then there's Powell's Australia
posted by nax at 5:39 PM on March 17, 2008

urg. UK
posted by nax at 5:40 PM on March 17, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks nax.
posted by Elmore at 6:03 PM on March 17, 2008

Best answer: John McPhee's "The Headmaster."

William Goldman talking about Ms. Rogulski in the preface to "The Princess Bride."
posted by Phred182 at 6:31 PM on March 17, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for your help everyone. Much appreciated.
posted by Elmore at 4:57 PM on March 18, 2008

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