The verb “to teach” is vipiku in Pamaru. “Na” is an honorific. “Teacher” is Vikuna which is often just shortened to Viku except in formal situation.
Being in a classroom again has been a very interesting experience for a lot of reasons. In particular, it’s caused a lot of reflection. The first week, I was surprised at a very unexpected urge to answer questions made by the teacher, in place of the kids. I wanted to prove that I knew the answer, that I was smart and capable. Naturally, this is totally irrational, but it’s made me think a lot about what school meant to me growing up. I think it was one of the few places that I got affirmation and validation. Where I was allowed to feel good about myself. At home, I always felt “not good enough,” but in school I could be a model student. I could be good. Great, even. I think I owe far more to those teachers, particularly my early teachers, than I can recall, because they gave me a sense of self-worth that I otherwise would not have had.
I wonder if they knew. If they could recognize that. Or if it was just an accident. A happy coincidence brought about by the good fortune of having very loving, very kind, very engaging teachers. My second, third, and fifth grade teachers are, in particular, very fond figures in my memory. Mrs. Doresy, Mrs. Ehney, and Mrs. Harbor…I think. My memory is so terrible that I’m struggling to recall the names, but I remember that in 2nd grade I was actually taught to my grade level in math. I’d been so bored for so long, and that was the first time I was actually challenged, because three different teachers got together to teach three different levels of 2nd grade math. That collaboration was hugely important to me. I remember that my love of mythology was inspired in 3rd grade. Egyptian and Roman, in particular. I remember learning about the pyramids, and working as a class to haul a slab of granite up a small slope with ropes and rollers, something that probably would never be allowed now due to liability. And mummies, particularly how their brains were pulled out with hooks. I was both repulsed and intrigued by that gruesome detail. I recall learning about the planets, and how the Greeks and Romans associated them with different gods. About how different life would be on other planets, if it could have been possible to live there. And my love of history and commerce came from 5th grade, with reenactments of the Boston Tea Party in the middle of winter in the creek behind the school, and pretending to be part of revolutionary networks, conveying “secret” notes in library books while evading patrols from the 6th graders and other teachers, who were naturally all on King George’s side for the sake of the exercise. We also made our own small businesses and had a big craft fair, with our own class money. Truth be told, my first convention booth was in 5th grade, selling clay figurines. I learned a lot about booth placement, and merchandizing, by doing in that class.
Returning to the classroom feels a lot like returning to that world. A world of learning, and acceptance, where I can be unapologeticly creative. Where I feel valued and respected. It’s been so long. I forgot what that felt like. It’s good to be back.
Who was your favorite teacher growing up, and what do you remember most about their class?