Brett Rants

Two Teachers

Teachers?
You want to know about my teachers?

The first was much more fun to write about.
But the second was, hands down, the better teacher.

The Funny One

Ah, the teachers of times gone by.

I took to reminiscing the other day. And the professor that would be the most fun to to write about in all my many long years of being a student (I have close to twice the undergraduate requirements for a BS, so we are talking of many a long year)... well, imagine Crazy George getting a teaching gig, showing up in his bathrobe, mug of coffee in hand, and rather that teaching anything to do with magical incantations or whatever the class was supposed to be about, Crazy George spent every last moment of every last lecture going into the nuances of the Goblin culture and why peace will never be an option with the vile beasts. Oh, and let's not forget, all the while, he'd be busy letting all the Elvin Maidens in the class know that he's down for... you know, whatever.

This professor I had was loads of fun.

'So, you all read the book? Any questions?'
<insert relevant class discussion question here>
'Yeah, I think that's covered pretty well in the text. Now, where was I? Oh, right, the Dooms Crag Pass. The thing you got to know about that little area of The Realms...'

And they'd be off and running for the next three hours.

This teacher liked to curse. I mean, they could swear.

I was surprised - SURPRISED!!! I tell you - when I learned a few years later they were no longer at the institution.

But the class was great fun. And I'd be happy to argue (argumentative man that I am) that this particular teacher was one of the better teachers that ever taught at said institution. I mean, many of the teachers (perhaps most of the teachers I've had over the years) got in the way of the course material, interjecting themselves (and their world view) between the student and what they were supposed to be teaching. But this professor did not do that! No, sir! Not one single lecture was about anything even remotely related to the posted class syllabus.

'Oh, you're interested in that? Didn't I include an optional reading list. Well, add this book to the lot and it will tell you everything you need to know about that.'

I mean, I know I'm not painting that endearing of a picture, but for a person like me, they really were about as good a teacher as I ever had.

You want to learn, learn, you know, do the homework.
And if you don't, I've got your easy C for attending the class lectures covered...

The Good Teacher

I really should have started writing this rant about the Best Teacher Ever; but oddly, the Funny One is more fun to write about.

But we've done with Funny One, so time to move on to the Best Teacher Ever.

Right off, I know who I have in mind, who this teacher was for me.

But to explain to another Why? It's actually a fairly difficult question. And since I have no intention of going into any personally identifiable information, I wonder if that teacher reading this entry would know this blurb was about them... probably, I like to think so.

All that aside, I can say with a high degree of confidence that the two of us connected on an intellectual level. I respected the teacher and their ideas. And I like to feel they felt the same way. Certainly, their world view was based on some sort of Human Centric Vision. They were kind of heart and thoughtful, while not being a push over. And I can't say I went along with all of their touchy-feely humanism stuff; but I will say that I always felt like my disagreements had been heard; and that we could cordially agree to disagree. It wasn't about one of us being right and the other being wrong or my parroting back what the teacher had said; but rather, in a meeting of the minds. As in:
I came to this point from this path and you from another; what say we spend a moment talking about how each of us sees the world; and while doing so, perhaps I will gain insight into the path you have walked, and you, mine.
Of course, this is all putting words into another's mouth... or, perhaps, my own. Who really knows who's supposed to be talking? Suffice to say, there was mutual respect and admiration. And they were the only teacher/professor I ever asked to write me a letter of recommendation. And for years, that letter hung on my office wall. I felt like I had earned that letter, deserved that letter, and that the professor had felt the same way, having said as much in the letter.

Parsing the Pair

There is very little about teaching in this blurb. It is almost all about personality. And that said, when discussing either teacher with other students, I was surprise to learn that some did not like the one... or the other: either, neither, or both. And I suppose that's understandable. What I disliked in other teachers, my fellow students often liked. So, turn about is fair play and all that.

Suffice to say, whatever my Best Teacher said (and whatever Funny One said, too, surprisingly enough), I wasn't going to dismiss out of hand. The further their teachings veered from my comfort zone, the more I had to look at the idea to understand the underlying implications. Why would an intellectual (would either have even self-described themselves as such) believe such a thing or put forth such a obviously ludicrous idea with a straight face. Or in other words, being unable to dismiss the message on account of my respect for the messenger, I found myself (and still do) reading a different sort of meaning into my correspondence with others.

They might have been wrong.
But neither of them were fools.
So, why might a learned person believe such a thing as this...

And there we have the basis for pure intellectual inquiry.

And, perhaps, why it is only fitting to lump them both together in the end.


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So many teachers, so few I remember...

Often I write these posts as some sort of message in a bottle... an invitation for intellectual interaction with another. I guess either of these would be wonderful templates... or you know, anyone else who appreciates ideas for their own sake.

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