Dear Mr. Oda,
Thank you for being the worst teacher I ever had. You taught me you learn more from failure than success. As a teacher, you were a complete failure. Your lack of knowledge of Geography, but, more, your lack of compassion for us students taught me how not to teach. Now, when I’m before my students I think of you, and do the exact opposite; you made teaching that easy.
Thank you for getting mad at me for getting the right answer. Remember the time I asked why I’d gotten the wrong answer on the question: How many U.S. States border on the Pacific ocean? I knew: 3. Washington, Oregon, California. Why’d I get that wrong? Instead of checking a map, you checked the back of the book, which said, 5. You read me the answer. No, I insisted, seeing the map clearly in my head, it’s 3. Washington, Oregon, California. Then we looked at the map together, and sure enough, I pointed out Washington, Oregon, California. 3. And instead of praising your young student for getting the right answer, you got mad, yanked my test from my hands, changed the mark and shoved the paper back at me.
But, it is 5. Alaska and Hawaii. 5. But, you didn’t know that. It’s not so much that you relied on the back of the book to teach, it’s your reaction that sent the message that being right is a bad thing and an inconvenience to you.
Thank you for being a bad loser when I beat you at chess at the class Christmas party. You blamed it on the loud music, and how you couldn’t concentrate. Now when a student schools me at something, I remember to smile and say, thank you. Your obvious displeasure at losing to your twelve year old student just made my victory sweeter.
I owe you a lot, Mr. Oda, more than can be expressed in this thank you note. You were absolutely, positively the worst teacher I ever had in any course I ever took ever. You made my favorite subject my least favorite subject, proving, it’s not the material, it’s the delivery that makes a joke funny, or a class interesting. So, I know I can make a student’s least favorite subject, like grammar, their favorite, with just a bit of wit and wisdom, two things you’d have to look up in the back of the book to understand, then get pissed at the student who knew it before you did.