The Teacher Who Refused to Teach

Bowen

Mrs. Bowen. I’ll never forget her. She wore a brown wig, walked stiffly as if she had a board plastered to her back, and never spoke a word. That is, unless she was embarrassing us in front of the class. She was my 6th grade math teacher, a title which I’m not sure how she acquired since she never taught anything.

All of our learning was done out of a book. If we didn’t understand the math problems in the book, we’d have to ask a fellow classmate. We learned early on that asking Mrs. Bowen was not in our best interest. However, it took each of us a try before we finally figured that out.

“Mrs. Bowen, I don’t understand this math problem. Can you help me?”

“Help you?! No. Ask your classmate.”

I asked around, but it seemed that everyone I asked was in the same predicament that I was.

“Mrs. Bowen. No one knows how to do it. Can you please help me?” I pleaded.

“Jill. Come to the front of the class,” she ordered. Slowly I walked to the front of the class.

“Everyone! Listen up. Jill here doesn’t know how to do the problem. Ha… ha… ha!” Spitefully she laughed, urging the kids to join in.

Once everyone had a good laugh she turned to me, “Go sit down and figure it out yourself.”

I can’t remember a single kid in that class who didn’t get embarrassed by Mrs. Bowen. Up until 6th grade, math was by far my favorite subject. I loved it and couldn’t get enough of it. After that year, I couldn’t stand to look at a math problem.

Now that I’m older, I wonder if Mrs. Bowen even knew how to do the math problems herself. Perhaps that’s why she never helped us. She didn’t know either and was too proud to admit it. If that’s the case, how did she get that position in the first place? Aren’t teachers supposed to prove that they are qualified?

Or, maybe she did know and was simply a mean teacher. Regardless, Mrs. Bowen ruined math for me. I didn’t learn one single thing in math class during 6th grade, and it became the subject that I struggled with the most throughout the rest of my school years.

Oddly enough however, a few years after graduation I went into the accounting field. But, a lot of the credit for that goes to my handy calculator. A great invention, especially for students like me who had teachers who refused to teach.


This post is for the Daily Post prompt: Land of Confusion

Which subject in school did you find impossible to master? Did math give you hives? Did English make you scream? Do tell!

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23 Responses to The Teacher Who Refused to Teach

  1. Gail says:

    Wow! That just goes to show that some people aren’t cut out to be teachers and shouldn’t be in that profession. I, too, wonder if Mrs. Bowen even knew how to do the problems herself!

    Like

    • mewhoami says:

      I agree completely! It still baffles me how or why she was ever hired to begin with, and that she wasn’t fired. Why would a school allow that? Maybe they didn’t know. I never reported her. Perhaps no one else did either.

      Like

  2. socialdee says:

    I can so relate…except it was a science teacher who clearly hated children and retired at the end of that year. He called me stupid in front of the class, refused to help. Ruined science for me for a long time.

    Like

    • mewhoami says:

      That’s awful! Teachers are supposed to be people we can trust and look up to. It’s a shame that some of them behave in such a cruel manner. They must not understand the long-lasting effects that they can have on children.

      Like

  3. grannyK says:

    When my son was in 7th grade, every one of his teachers had that philosophy. I requested a meeting with them all they I was told by all that everything he needs to know is in his books. So, I asked what they were paid to do and it made them furious.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mewhoami says:

      Good for you! I wish someone would have stood up to my teacher, and been blunt with her like you were. I understand that workbooks are made for a reason and they are helpful, but the lessons taught directly from teachers are invaluable. There are just some things that need to be explained further and help that can’t come from a book.

      Like

  4. lifelessons says:

    This type of teacher infuriates me–mainly at the principals, school board members and parents who allow them to go on year after year. You describe her so well. Judy https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/land-of-confusion-2/

    Like

    • mewhoami says:

      I agree. This woman should have never been employed as a teacher. My only hope is that maybe later down the road she changed and became better. Or at the very least, they replaced her with someone who actually knew how to teach.

      Like

  5. My fifth grade teacher told me that I would never be able to pass math in high school because I wasn’t smart enough to do my times tables. I wish I could have sent him my grade twelve calculus grade. A+.

    Like

    • mewhoami says:

      An A+ in calculus is outstanding! That would have been a great “proved you wrong” moment. It’s good that you didn’t let his negativity discourage you from trying and progressing.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Geometry. And I have an eerily similar experience and not quite same kind of story. My teacher knew her stuff. And taught. But refused to answer a request for help unless we put it in a question. The problem was, many of us didn’t know enough to formulate a question. She would not answer “we don’t understand”. She said we needed to put it in to a question. That was a horribly rough year.

    Like

    • mewhoami says:

      Since my stepfather was very particular about how we asked our questions, I suppose I can somewhat understand her motive. However, it’s slightly unfair when the students don’t know enough to formulate the question in the first place. That would make learning very difficult. Having help in school is so needful and imperative.

      Liked by 1 person

      • When she first made those comments to us we were perplexed and dumbfounded. To that point in our educations if we had said to a teacher “we don’t understand” the teacher would have explained. Again, or in a different way. This teacher, however, would only say, repeatedly, that telling her we didn’t understand was not asking a question. I think she was trying to do us a favor, but I think, she could have initiated that process by explaining it better. And when it came to geometry….. There truly were situations that I could not formulate enough information to ask a question regarding clarification. At that time, in the manner it was done, it was nothing but frustration. Looking back, I wish I had had enough intelligence to explain to her I understood what she was trying to teach us by getting us to ask questions. But she needed to teach us THAT part better. AND she needed to teach us some basic geometry better so we could formulate some geometry questions better! 🙂 Oh the hindsight! 🙂

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        • mewhoami says:

          Yes, her explaining why she was doing that would have made a world of difference. Adults seem to think that we should just know or we’ll eventually figure it out. But, that’s not always the case. There are some things that must be explained to us in order for us to understand. I try to remember this with my son.

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          • I’m not sure if it was you, or someone else who was saying recently the same thing. It may have been another blogger. That adults sometimes discipline children for not “knowing” better. Well, children DON’T know better that’s why we teach them. The way she said this was such an eye opener and should be in all parenting classes. Of course, she said it much better than I am here.

            Liked by 1 person

  7. I had a math teacher who was actually a football coach, another football coach who halfway through the year ended up teaching typing, and a shop teacher who got stuck teaching computers. You have to wonder what the people in charge are thinking!!!

    Like

    • mewhoami says:

      Oh my word! That is funny, and yet so disturbing. I hope that they were at least a little qualified in the subjects they ended up teaching. I’m with you – what were they thinking?

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Glynis Jolly says:

    Did any of the parents complain about her. I had a teacher who was similar, although he wasn’t mean, just lazy. Also, it wasn’t math, which absolutely needs the attention of the teacher. It was American History. I was in 8th grade. Mr. Graham would have our assignment on the board by the time we walked into class. Read chapter 11 and answer the questions at the end of the chapter. Hand in the assignment when the bell rings.

    I did have a teacher in 6th grade who was awful. Instead of telling you here, just go to https://speculationsimpressed.wordpress.com/2013/10/29/the-sixth-grade-villain/ if you’re interested. I wonder what it is with 6th grade teachers??? O_o

    Like

    • mewhoami says:

      Not that I’m aware of, but thankfully I only stayed at that school for that year. Mr. Graham sounds like he may have just wanted the easy way out. His way would certainly make teaching a breeze. I’m going to head over to your post now. Maybe it was their form of ‘boot camp’ since we had just graduated elementary school.

      Like

  9. April says:

    It’s so sad when a teacher has such an impact on lives and doesn’t seem to care. My son had a bad 3rd grade teacher that he is still recovering from his lack of her teaching.

    Like

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