I made a Facebook post a while back about Bum Phillips and his love of Texas. In that post, I mentioned the fact that I grew up with what I call “old school” teachers, teachers who demanded love, respect, and loyalty for the state of Texas. Even as I was typing, my mind wandered back, over half a century back, to those teachers who taught me so much…and to tell you the truth, not much of it had one thing to do with fun.
It wasn’t just Texas pride, of course. In fact, the love of state was much more subjective, maybe even a little covert, but we all knew that we’d better stand at attention when we lustily sang The Eyes of Texas. And, surprisingly enough, we did it. We knew the story of the Alamo and those who died there, and we understood that we’d better not dream of picking the state flower from any public place or roadside.
Don’t get me wrong. Our teachers weren’t just Texans. They were Americans first and foremost. Love of country was also a part of our curriculum, and we knew better than to even “blink wrong” during the National Anthem.
And as much as wiggle during the school song? Oh, my!
No, my teachers were teachers; they weren’t terribly fun, touchy feely kind of people, and they probably wouldn’t even pass an evaluation by today’s standards, but when they told us to learn it, we did. When they said stand up, shut up, or give it up, we did…if we knew what was good for us.
And the least scholarly among us scored higher on the SAT than two-thirds of the kids graduating today. Oh…and that reminds me…those who didn’t do these things didn’t graduate, plain and simple. The state, the school, and the teachers didn’t need some magical state test to tell them who was smart enough to earn a diploma. My teachers were smart enough to know that for themselves, and they held it over all of our heads.
Now, I don’t want you to get me wrong. We didn’t necessarily like our teachers any better than do the kids of today, but we didn’t hate them any more either. Skinny Miss Dunn reviewed all of the magazines before she allowed them placed in “her” library. The photos that were too “racey” for our young eyes, she clipped, and we made fun of her for doing it.
Mrs. C.B. Williams was an 8th grade English teacher, and she expected that we learn enough that we could teach the subject as well should the need to do that ever arise. I am speaking the absolute truth when I tell you that I could have taught high school English with no more training than I received from Mrs. Williams. On my first illustrated paper, I received an A+ for the writing and a F for the illustration. What did my parents to? Threaten to sue? Call the principal or a member of the school board? Tell me how mistreated I was? No, Fred and Betty Davis insisted that I take art lessons for the rest of my life!
Itty bitty Miss Werner, with her pinched little lipsticked lips and spots of rouge on each cheek was another prime target for the rougher boys in the school. I must admit that I really liked her…even though I almost must admit that I still grin today just thinking about the prim and proper little thing.
And then there was Mrs. Palmer. She was a different animal all together. For one thing, she was a Mrs. and not a Miss. She even had birthed children…different…and yet so similar, and I loved that “old woman” very much.
Patsy Boyd was from a different generation than the others and yet, when she slammed that hand down on that desk, there was not a doubt in a single mind just who was in charge in THAT room! Yes, Patsy was “cooler” than the others, but you’d better not cross her. Period.
Patsy’s husband was William Boyd, math teacher extraordinaire. William understood math frontwards, backwards, and standing on his head, and he’d just about do that if it meant he could help a student understand it as well. With God listening, I can tell you that I never said one…count them…ONE word in William’s class unless he invited me to do so.
So what’s my point in these ramblings today? I don’t suppose there is one, not really. I guess I’m just tired of listening to parents bash every single teacher associated with their children. I’m tired of hearing how hard Mrs. So and So is, and I’m tired of hearing how unfair Mr. What’s His Name is.
Never once do I hear something like, “Well, she’s hard as nails, but by damn, Baby Girl is learning a lot!” Instead, I hear nothing but whining parents who want to believe that Baby Girl or Little Boy is being mistreated, and mark my words, it will be these very same whining parents who won’t have a clue why Baby Girl and Little Boy can’t make it in the real world. Go figure.