School is just around the corner. Before you know it, summer will be a memory.
The thought of school brings me back to my college days, to the professors I had who made teaching an art — in their own quirky way. The first one that comes to mind was my eastern European history professor. He had a habit of throwing erasers — not at us, though. His aim was mainly at the floor and the board. It often came as a result of his frustration at trying to get a point across that we, for whatever reason, didn’t grasp.
To be honest, I only remember two things from that class — three, if you count the random eraser throwing. The others: the required reading of “The Bridge on the Drina,” which became one of my favorite books, and when the professor told me that, in his opinion, journalists couldn’t write well.
This tragic event occurred when I was summoned to his office after receiving a D on my first paper for his class. In my defense, I played the journalism card, mentioning that I was majoring in the field and was passing all my journalism assignments with flying colors. “So why a D?” I asked.
Never miss a local story.
That’s when he shared the difference between “academic writing” and “journalism.”
No erasers were thrown that day.
By the end of the semester, I pulled my grade up and got a note of congratulations from him on my last paper. His words of wisdom got me through the rest of my academic writing days.
Another teacher who stands out was my Southern literature professor. He was a great teacher, but he would sometimes get sidetracked sharing stories of his life. Yet he had a way of telling them that would read like a novel if he were to write them down. Some of those stories were filled with nuggets of wisdom.
In that class, while reading Flannery O’Connor, Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner and others, we learned the drama behind my professor’s stolen Siberian husky (which made him ultimately depressed the first week of class), his failed marriage (a warning on getting married too young instead of waiting to figure out who you are as a person) and growing up as the son of a minister.
There was one thing he said that has always stuck with me: “Right thoughts equal right actions.”
I don’t remember what story of his the quote was related to, but it makes a lot of sense.
Sometimes the greatest lessons teachers can give are the ones that don’t have anything to do with the lesson at hand.