I wonder sometimes what my students will remember about me when they are older. Will I be a loud, balding, caring individual? I just don’t know. I can recall some of the teachers I have had. One thing that all my favorite teachers had in common was that they were all weird.
Weird teachers always seem to be the best. They keep their classes on their toes, with students waiting and watching to see what crazy thing that weird teacher will do next. I was lucky enough to have several of these people. They made learning a real joy and adventure.
For example, when I was in high school, my chemistry teacher was Mr. Kennel. He was a little weird to me. To describe his physical appearance, he looked like a shortened version of a circus ring leader. He walked like a penguin and wore this giant belt buckle with the letter “K” fastened to it. (We joked with him how silly it was to have the periodic sign for Potassium on his belt.) He once imploded a gas can in class to prove that hot air rises. Wow! That was cool.
When I went to college (Miami University), I had the treat of having Dr. Gelwick. Now here was one weird teacher! He taught freshman Western Civilization. The course was offered on Wednesday nights from 7 to 9:40. I had never had an evening class, and I heard that he was a good professor, so I signed up for his class. During World War II, Dr. Gelwick was captured by the Germans. After almost being beaten to death, he lived to become a Doctor of History. He was now in his late seventies, walked with a cane, spoke loudly, as his hearing was shot. When excited, he would shake his cane in the air.
One Wednesday night, it was storming terribly. I listened for the phone to ring canceling class. After all, power lines were down, dogs being picked up and carried to other counties! No, not really…BUT it was really bad. No call came. So I made my way to class. Going down stairs, I could hear Dr. Gelwick going at it; yelling his lecture. I was worried that I had missed ten minutes of exciting stories. To my shock, as I walked in, there Dr. Gelwick was, teaching away, to a class full of …nobody!! I thought for certain the metal plate in his head had been magnetized by the lightning. I slowly took my seat while he went on without pause. He stopped only after minutes had gone by to say to me, “Mr. Thomas, I start promptly at 7pm.”
Weird teachers may not be welcomed into the norm of society, but their job is an important one. It’s weird teachers that bring the unexpected into the classroom. This surprise is often a welcome to the “same old, same old.” I wonder if I am weird. I hope so.