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We Bet Those Students Will Never Forget This Lesson!

, , , , , , , | Learning | September 13, 2023

This is a story from my high school days when a chemistry teacher taught me that you can be good at what you do and still not take yourself too seriously. The incident occurred in my senior year.

I don’t recall what the experiment specifically was, but [Teacher] was heating something in a glass beaker over a Bunsen burner. He then needed to cool the mixture off. This he did by holding the beaker with a pair of tongs and carrying it over to a sink, where he ran water over the sides of the beaker.

Thermodynamics being what it is, as soon as the hot beaker touched the cold water, we heard a very loud CRACK. The beaker had broken by cooling too rapidly.

While the class chuckled, [Teacher] sighed, dropped the broken beaker into the trash, and calmly began preparing a second sample. He then heated the second beaker and carried it to the faucet.

Another CRACK. The class began outright laughing now.

[Teacher] sighed again, tossed the second beaker in the trash, and picked up a third. We were still laughing. He looked up at the class with the third beaker in his hand, shrugged — and suddenly threw the beaker into the sink, absolutely shattering it! After a brief stunned silence, the class went into hysterics.

After I graduated, I learned another lesson from [Teacher]: you don’t have to follow traditional paths or be stuck in a mold. Most teachers who aspire to greater things move into administration or pursue a doctorate. When [Teacher] got bored, though, he’d just take a sabbatical year off, attend a few more college classes, and come back teaching a different subject. When I visited the school two years after I graduated, he was teaching Art.

There’s no telling what he got to break doing that!

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