Monday, September 12, 2011

What Do You Remember from Your Schooldays? Part I

We certainly learn a great deal in our 15-20 years of schooling, but how many specific moments do we remember?

Back in the late 80s, just this time of year, I was getting ready to teach the first class of the semester to 40 electrical engineering students at Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario.  I was watching my round, red kitchen wall clock -- but the hour hand had slipped and it was later than I thought.  By the time I showed up for class, the students had left.  This was not going to help build a relationship of trust.

I held my first class with them two days later.  I apologized for my earlier absence and promised it wouldn't happen again.  I then pulled out the old clock and a hammer, and smashed the clock into tiny pieces in front of them.

Many years later, I ran into one of my former students.  He said, "Hey, I know you.  You're the teacher that smashed the clock."  Then, "Yeah, that's about all I remember from my college days."

What do you remember?


  1. I remember lots. Some of the things were the traumatic experiences - like being made fun of in Grade 9; missing the ski bus to Mont Tremblant because I slept in; but most of the memories are happy. They all have to do with doing stuff: playing in the band, being the only kid in Grade 12 in the JUNIOR football team; auto mechanics and woodworking; the chem teacher who was totally intimidated by me; and especially the English teacher that "got" me. Too bad I didn't run into him until Grade 12.
    I also remember lots of girls. I liked girls then alot, but didn't know how to play their game. Like most guys, I didn't learn that until university.

  2. Da Buoy wrote: "Memory is mostly about forgetting. We are innundated with the noise of culture and desire. The din of life can easily mislead and perplex, if we don't filter it with absence. Most of us remember how we got where we are... the school plays, the pretty date, prom, how we survived a bully... RECALCULATING

    Thank goodness for forgetting. It helps us know what to remember."

  3. Sergio Melo wrote: "I have so many recollections from my school days. I remember, for instance, when a Geography teacher scolded a whole class of older students who were bullying me because of my sexual orientation. I could only overhear what she was saying at a distance. So, at the age of, let's say, 16ish, it was the first time ever someone took a clear stand to defend me from social violence while everyone else would simply pretend nothing was happening.

  4. from Roy Eaton:
    "Many years later, I ran into one of my former students. He said, 'Hey, I know you. You're the teacher that smashed the clock.' Then, 'Yeah, that's about all I remember from my college days.'"

    Cute reply but I wonder what he would have answered if you had asked him what meaning did he take from that incident. Your commitment? Your ??? Why was it such a striking memory? pun intended :-)