Friday, March 12, 2010

Bullies Aren't Always Kids

A Facebook post on Wednesday brought out a whole lot of responses from varied people. It turned out that other people besides me had issues with a certain science teacher from high school. Now this man could be classified only as a bully. Clearly picking on people he judged as weak. Favoring those that he viewed as strong. A sexist pig as well. I had him for Chemistry in 11th grade. I started the year in the honors class, but due to a serious inability to understand what the honors teacher was teaching, I was bumped down to academic. I moved into a class where there weren't any more seats, and had to sit at the lab tables or in seats of classmates when they were absent. This teacher made it clear that he did not respect any female intelligence. I was constantly being yelled at "Damn it Harrington, why are you so stupid?" and having things blamed on me for being blond. Fantastic motivation from a teacher. Another friend in another of this man's classes was nick-named "Ditzo." Mind you, neither of us were stupid, we were just unfortunate to be born female and natural blonds. This teacher favored the male athletes. Sitting them next to the smarter students, and allowing "Extra Credit" that the rest of us didn't have access to.

But I showed this man I was better than him. Better than he ever expected. Come finals time, he made a big deal out of the math portion of the final. Saying that no one ever got more than an 80 on it. Saying that the scale- for all classes, not just ours- would be based on the math portion, meaning that if no one got more than a 70 on the math, we'd all get a 30 points scale on the final. Well, I got a 97 on the math part of the final. He was enraged. He called me into his class after school and asked me how I did it. Now, I'm someone who writes out EVERYTHING in a math problem, so all of my work was right there. He could see every painful step of my logic. He berated me for "ruining the scale" for my classmates. Didn't I know that by scoring so high I was wrecking the score for everyone else? I told him that I deserved an A in the class, and I didn't care about the scale for everyone else, so long as I got my A. I'm still not sure what he did for everyone else, but I did get my A+ on the final, and my A for the final semester in the class (the only one I got from him that year).

It was the first time that I felt that I really bested someone in a position of authority. It was a skill that really helped me my senior year of high school. I had a new-found confidence in myself. An ability to just say "fuck it, these people mean nothing to my future" and really mean it. I got the best grades of my high school career. A little bit of antipathy plus a little bit of knowing you know more than a person of authority is a fabulous confidence booster.

3 comments:

Life After Grad School said...

I've never heard this story before! It seriously makes me wonder how many girls got "kept" after by this A-hole!

Sadly, I think that teachers like him are the reason why women stay away from the sciences.

What_happened? said...

Not sure if you are talking about a certain chem teacher that I also had a problem with? He hated my going to West Point, kept telling me that I wasn't going to make it and shouldn't be going there.
I missed a test due to a drama field trip and he wouldn't let me make it up! My mom came in and he started berating her to ... took my dad walking in to him talking to my mom like that before anything happened! Ridiculous!

Kara said...

Perhaps. Did his name rhyme with Monovan?