Thursday, September 22, 2011

Humiliation in Science Class

I was absolutely mortified.  If I could have hidden under my desk and disappeared, I would have.  We were in 9th grade.  Our Earth Science teacher started maternity leave and our teacher for the second half of the year was the formerly retired Mr. Makower.  He was old, he was fat, and as far as I'm concerned, he was evil.

I spent a ton of time working on my project about the striations in Bear Mountain State Park and how they related to the glacier that covered the area during the last ice age.  My dad had driven me to the park on a few occasions and helped me find, measure, and check the orientations of all those scratches in the rocks.  It was a lot of effort and calculations on my part, and I was proud of it.  I did solid work, and I didn't choose an easy project like many of the other kids in class.

He destroyed me.  It was his first day teaching our class, and apparently, he was an expert on striations.  I have always been very shy and prone to panic attacks.  I hated speaking in front of my classmates; I didn't want to get made fun of, so I spoke quietly.

Mr. Makower made fun of my for being quiet.  He pretended to search for a microphone.  He told me he didn't like mice in his classroom (get it, I was quiet like a mouse-so not funny).  He stood further and further away from me and made me repeat myself.  He made a big production of changing the seating arrangements in class so I was directly in front of his desk. 

I tried so hard not to burst into tears, but didn't really succeed.  That's when he really pounced.  He started asking me questions about glacial striations in other areas.  I didn't know the answers, since my project only dealt with the striations at Bear Mountain State Park.  He asked me some questions I could answer, and then kept trying to one-up me.  He mocked my answers and made sure he proved to the class that he knew more than me.  Of course he did!  I was 14 and a student-he was in his 70s and the teacher.

I have never been so humiliated in school.  He took a project I was proud of and turned it, and me, into the butt of his joke.  Throughout that half a year, he made sure to embarass me on many other occasions.  I wasn't a dumb kid-I got all As, and took honors and AP classes.  He made me feel like I wasn't a worthwhile person.  He made me hate going to his class-and I had always loved everything in school, even math, which I wasn't really good at.

I still don't know what I did to him to make him treat me like that.  He was mean to some of the other smart girls in the class, but he picked on me every day.  I can remember him giving me a B- on a paper, and the only comment on the entire thing was my misspelling of Massachusetts in the bibliography.  I despise him to this day, and the way he treated me still haunts me.

There is no excuse for a teacher treating a student like that.  They are there to help kids learn and grow and become better people.  They are not supposed to tear kids down and make them feel worthless.  I wish I hadn't been afraid to tell someone else in school about him.  That man should never have been allowed to be a teacher.

I pray my kids never ever have to deal with someone like him.  And if they do, I hope they will tell me.  Because I am not that scared little girl anymore, and now, I would rip someone like him apart.

I wrote this post in response to one of this week's prompts from Mama Kat's Writers Workshop.  I chose 4.) A time you felt wronged by a teacher. (inspired by Great Fun 4 Kids).
Mama’s Losin’ It


  1. Wow. That is horrible. At least when you're kids are in school you can be their advocate - and an understanding one. Sometimes obedience isn't the best thing... I think that's a lesson we forget to teach.

  2. He was bully. I felt like ripping him apart just from reading your post. Thanks for sharing... it must have been hard re-visiting those moments. What an awful man.

  3. I agree with Babaloo ... he was definitely a bully. If he was horrible to everyone, then maybe he was just an a**hole who shouldn't be in a situation with young, impressionable people, but to target specific people so he could make them feel bad while making himself feel better? Just hope that he got whatever karma had/has in store for him.

  4. Wow, Alison, that was horrible. I'm so sorry :( I can't believe they let people like that be teachers. I hate it when teachers tear kids down it's such the opposite of what their job is supposed to be. Luckily I always found that for each terrible teacher like that I also had a totally awesome one that encouraged me. But I told on my teachers all the time. If I felt there was a serious problem I always told my mom and let her decide if I was over reacting. I almost always was because I'm a little tattle-tailing dramaqueen. But your teacher definitely sounded like a jerk.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog today and commenting :)

  5. Thank you all for the comments! I agree with @Babaloo and @Maria-he was definitely a bully and should not have been allowed to teach. @thefamilypractice-I really hope I can help my kids if they have a bad teacher, or any bad experience in school. And you are right about obedience not always being a good thing. @coolestfamilyontheblock-that's awesome you were comfortable talking to your mom about it. And I've also had plenty of good teachers to make up for the bad ones, especially once I got to college. And I think it helped me too that both my parents were teachers, especially in high school when my dad would come subsitute teach since he was retired-it made me feel better that my dad was there.

  6. OMG, that teacher sounds like the biggest %$!#@! I feel like pummeling him. I'm sorry he made you miserable.
    PS, I live kinda near Bear Mountain. Small world!

  7. This whole post made me cringe!! What an awful way to treat a student. Unbelievable. I hope it didn't ruin your educational experience with ALL teachers.