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A Miserable Teacher

, , , , , | Learning | August 18, 2017

(I’m 12 and in seventh grade when my history teacher takes us to the school library. I see ‘Les Miserables’ on the shelf, and since my big sister in college is in a performance of it, I’m interested, and pull it down to take a look.)

History Teacher: “You can’t read that.”

Me: “Huh? Why not?”

History Teacher: “You’re twelve. It’s way too hard for you. Put it back.”

(I’ve never gotten along with this teacher. He tends to be pretty misogynistic, and when I told him that some of the information in the textbook about Christopher Columbus was wrong, he told me to shut up and follow the book. Defiantly, I take Les Miz up to the check-out counter.)

History Teacher: *following me* “I told you, you can’t read that! Put it back!”

(I check it out anyway — only to return it a week later, after ordering my own copy, so that I can annotate it and highlight. It’s dense stuff, so I start taking meticulous notes in order to get through it. A few months later, I’m reading it in class when my teacher spots me.)

History Teacher: “You’re still reading that?!”

Me: “Yes. I’m four hundred pages in.”

History Teacher: “I told you not to read that, and you’re deliberately disobeying me! Go to the principal’s office!”

(Given that I’m usually a very quiet, straight-A student, the principal is very surprised to see me.)

Principal: “[My Name]? Is everything okay? Are you sick?”

Me: “No. [Teacher] sent me here.”

Principal: “Um… why?”

Me: “I was reading Les Miserables.”

Principal: “During class?”

Me: “No. During silent reading time.”

Principal: “…”

Me: “He doesn’t want me reading it. He thinks it’s too difficult for me, but so far, I like it.”

Principal: “Don’t… read it in front of him, then, I guess? Go back to class, [My Name]. I’m still not sure why he sent you here.”

(Eight months after picking it up, I finish Les Miz, and I take great pleasure in handing the teacher my annotated copy and my two notebooks full of notes on it, right as we’re about to start French history. Needless to say, he fumes, and starts complaining about me at parent-teacher conferences. Thankfully, my parents take my side.)

Teacher: “[My Name] is disrespectful and headstrong. I told her not to read that book, and she did it anyway!”

Dad: “You told her it was too hard for it, but honestly, she seemed to be enjoying it. Wouldn’t you rather have your students challenge themselves?”

Teacher: “No, I want them to listen to me! The textbook is right, and so am I!”

Mom: “Frankly, with that attitude, I’m not sure I’d listen to you, either.”

(I will credit that incident with one thing — ten years later and starting medical school, I still take fantastic notes!)

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