So on the ride home today from my make-up violin lesson, I began thinking about people in the past who I knew, and still know that I will never see again in person.
And you know what? Thinking about these people made me caused my smile to droop.
Mainly, I thought about this amazing math teacher that I had last year who retired and moved to a different country (but he gave us, his students, his email, so we're still able to contact him). He was an inspirational man; he was talented, smart, and if you listened hard enough (or really at all), you'd hear all of the life lessons that he taught. What hit me the most was when I remembered that he said, "Ah, your memory isn't what it used to be, is it?" Back when he said it, I just kind of laughed it off. I mean, I thought I was getting better at memorization and whatnot. But upon reflecting in the car ride, I realized that my memory WAS fading, and that I was forgetting all the small moments in his class. So you know what? I'll chronicle what I still remember of the class onto here so that I can look back, years from now, and still recall these amazing memories. It's a shame that I cannot remember these moments in chronological order, though.
I remember when he said, "Understand, not remember, because your memory isn't what it used to be." Since then, I have adapted my learning style to understand, instead of just memorizing lifeless facts. This way, I learn--not just act as a robot, simply regurgitating info that has been fed to me. I've also improved in contemplating the purpose of, the reason for, and the role that people, places, things, and/or events play in the grand scheme of things.
I remember when he talked about his sleep schedule, and the reaction he garnered from my class. He really defined "quality, not quantity." It was kind of funny, actually. We spent about twenty minutes talking about sleep instead of focusing on the lesson. Also, because I was running on very little sleep and the lights were off, I was slowly nodding off. Oops, haha.
I remember the way he pronounced certain words and wrote things out. Instead of "quadratic," he said "quarterdic." Instead of writing out "function," he wrote "fn." Actually, come to think of it, his writing contained a lot of shorthand. So if he wrote a line on the board, whatever he wrote would probably take up two lines of space in your notes.
I remember how he gave us seemingly difficult problems, and everyone would attempt them, but most would fail. Then, in explaining the answer and the process to achieve the answer, he'd make everything seem so simple. Usually it was a really clever small trick; these problems usually left me and a lot of my classmates wanting to facepalm and shake our heads in self-disappointment. Oh, were those fun.
I remember the panics that he induced when he randomly did HW checks, or when he gave pop HW quizzes. Pop quizzes are pretty scary on their own, but I knew that he liked to challenge his students, making his pop quizzes even scarier. Additionally, my school doesn't count math or science HW as grades, but because this teacher wanted his students to better understand the concepts that were taught, he occasionally graded the HW anyways. A lot of the people in my class, and probably in the other classes as well, often didn't do the HW that he was checking, or they forgot/"forgot" to bring their HW notebooks. But this teacher was generous. He allowed these students to earn HW points back by giving them until the start of homeroom the next morning to finish the work and show him the completed problems. Were I a teacher, I probably wouldn't be this kind (thank goodness I'm not a teacher, haha).
I remember the panic that he induced within his students whenever there was a test or a quiz in general. Last year, I always said, "You always know when there's a test in (teacher's name)'s class," because his room would always be filled with students going in for extra help in the morning at the last second. Honestly, I found that most of the concepts he taught were easily understandable. The great majority of the questions on his assessments were quickly solvable, but there were always one or two questions that were so frustrating that I wanted to chuck my pencil out of the room and send my paper flying. Okay, it wasn't THAT bad, but it doesn't hurt to exaggerate, right? Most likely, there were people in my class and in the other classes who felt that way. One time, there was a one-day assessment that he extended to the next day because no one was able to finish it (this isn't an exaggeration--I'd be genuinely shocked if I found out that that someone actually completed that assessment within the period). Personally, I had already completed all of the questions but one. I had memorized that question, and I completed it at home (I know, I know, but that problem was really killing me). It. Took. Me. So. Long (it probably only took around ten minutes, but I kept restarting and recalculating everything). There was ONE trick that I kept missing, and I kept over-complicating everything, as I always did and still do. I finally solved it, though, and I checked my answer with what my friends got (they did the same thing as I did). When I got my paper back the next day, I quickly wrote down what I did. Even though I had solved the problem previously, it still took a long time for me to write everything down. In the end, he didn't even count the problem. The rush to finish the assessments in his class was just so overwhelming sometimes. Oh boy.
I remember how he made us question everything, to the point where a lot of us, students, were afraid to share the answer that we got with the class when he asked for it. There was this one time where we had some sort of problem with time, and we had to convert a number of hours to minutes. And what did he do? Well, someone said, in explaining the answer, that there were 60 minutes in an hour, and he interjected with, among other things, "Are you sure?" One of the facts that we students had known for most of our lives, and we were made to question it. Sometimes, when I question the purpose of time, I think about this. But that's for a whole other time.
I remember how, at the end of the day when I headed to my bus, I passed his classroom, and I always saw him fixing the classroom desks in such a caring manner. I don't know why, but seeing this action touched me, and developed my respect for him. Perhaps my respect for this man grew due to the respect that he demonstrated, not only to his students and other teachers, but also to his surroundings in general.
This teacher had such a great impact on me. In the future, I hope to meet people as great, or perhaps even greater, somehow, than he is. Maybe I have already met them; I just haven't realized their brilliance. To the teacher that this post was about, thank you for teaching me not only about math, but about life as a whole, and for broadening my view of the world.