Classroom Crisis Creates Fork in the Road


When I was in high school on the Main Line outside of Philadelphia, I was very shy. I tried to blend in as much as possible. I didn't want to call attention to myself ever; it was easy to do since the school was so large and had thousands of kids.

One day, I was sitting in algebra, and I just didn't understand what the guy was saying. In my class of 60, someone else usually asked the questions I was unwilling to ask, but on this day, nobody was asking him the question I needed answered. The instructor might as well have been speaking Martian–that's how badly I wasn't "getting it."

I hesitated, but then tentatively raised my hand to get clarification.

The teacher called on me, and I asked my question. You know what he replied? "That is the dumbest question I have ever heard." Now, I understand that sometimes an instructor reaches the end of his limit on what he can take but his response was so unnecessary. As an extremely sensitive person, that was the end of my career in algebra. I immediately transferred into a lower class that was so below me, and I never felt confident enough to take algebra again until college.

The funny part? I did so well in algebra in college that the school asked me if I'd like to be a tutor for others.

I have never forgotten that day.

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2 thoughts on “Classroom Crisis Creates Fork in the Road

  1. A great reminder of how powerfully our words affect others, especially children and young adults!

  2. Every now and then there is a lame teacher that slips through the cracks and says or does something completely abusive. I hope that kids speak up and turn those punks in whenever they can. They are the type that get into the field to hold power over kids and that is a dangerouse thing. My heart weaps for kids that do not speak up and have to carry memories like those in their heads forever without coupling it with some sort of vindication.

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