I’ve already written about the Sentence Incident from when I was in 4th grade, the other highlight of my civil disobedience in Elementary School occurred when I was in 6th grade. In Math, which was my favorite subject. NOT!I don’t remember our teacher’s name. He was somewhat new to the school and I didn’t like him. I didn’t like him because he really didn’t teach us. Early on he figured out which kids were good at math and had them do the problems he was “teaching” on the board. He didn’t spend time explaining things and he let the kids that were good in math work ahead, while the rest of us struggled to figure out how in the world they figured out the answers.
Math was quickly becoming more and more difficult for me and my frustration was increasing. I began to get sick to my stomach and was unable to go to school. Honestly, I think that my stomach aches were due to the stress of trying to figure out my math without the teacher teaching us. On a test day I was so ill I couldn’t make it to school.
When I returned to school the following day, the math teacher told me that I needed to stay in that day, during recess to make up the math test. For those of you who read my post from the incident when I was in 4th grade, you know that I was a “walker.” Being a “walker” meant that you went home for lunch. We had an hour to walk home, have lunch and return to school. While we were going home for lunch, our classmates ate lunch and went to recess. So, I couldn’t stay in at recess to make up my math test because I didn’t have a recess.
When I told my math teacher this, he became angry and told me that I had to stay to take my math test. I told him that if I did that, I would miss lunch. I told him that I could stay after school or stay the following day (if I packed a lunch – there wasn’t “hot” lunch every day, only special days). He was not pleased with me. I do not remember exactly what happened next, but the result was that I became quite angry with him. How any teacher could expect a kid to miss lunch was beyond me.
I ended up telling him that he was the worst teacher I had ever had; that he wasn’t teaching us when he had the same two students showing us how to do the problems day after day. I also told him that because he wasn’t teaching us, I was having trouble learning the material. He was enraged. And then it was time for me to leave for lunch.
While I was walking home, the teacher called my mom. Apparently, he was quite angry with me about my remarks. My mom first asked him, “was she polite?” He seemed surprised (according to my mom) and said that I was polite. My mom then asked, “is she right? Are two students really showing the class how to do the math problems every day?” Again, he sounded surprised and responded that was the case. She reiterated that I would stay after school or stay during recess the following day to take my test, but that I was right in that I needed to come home for lunch that day (since I would miss lunch if I didn’t come home for the entire time – it was a 15 minute walk each way, leaving 30 minutes to eat). He said that he understood, but that I needed to take the test that day. My mom told him that I could stay after school to take it. He then continued to complain to my mom about my remarks.
At this point, my mom told him that she stood behind me. That I spoke to him politely and that even he admitted that I was right. So, he had nothing to complain about. She then continued that since a 6th grader had complained that he wasn’t doing a good job teaching, perhaps he needed to evaluate his techniques.
Around this time, I walked into the kitchen, where my mom was on the phone. I heard her remarks to my math teacher. And I was vindicated.
As a side note – by the time my brother got to 6th grade two years later, this teacher was no longer teaching at our grade school.