On the Value of Teachers

I look back, and I find that of the good teachers, I not only remember who they were, but what I learned in their classes. That is, what specifically I learned.

I mean, I remember somewhat of history and chemistry, of French and cooking… but that’s just information. I’d have to dredge my memory or check the old yearbooks to figure out who the teachers were.

Wayne Loutet showed me how to find uses for math, often unexpectedly fun ones. The impractical application of math made it much easier to fix in my mind. He also guided my love of puzzles and problem solving and deconstruction of complexity.

Phil Jarvis taught me the value of the precisely right word and to recognize the poetry and passion of the written word. This cleared the way for John Hlady to develop my appreciation of the richness of Shakespeare.

John Hook was a physics teacher, and from him I learned to prepare when needed, improvise where appropriate, and that there is no shame in admitting ignorance — especially when it avoids demonstrating inadequate knowledge later. Also, to complement Wayne, John taught me how to do math pragmatically, to move past the irrelevant bits to get the answer I need.

Ted Zinkan, my PE teacher and rugby coach, trained me in sports… but more importantly, encouraged my tenacity and put me on the path toward leadership.

It occurs to me that while my best teachers all covered their curricula, what I really took away was beyond that.

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