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Who Were Your Best Teachers?

Cliff posted more than 13 years ago | from the people-who-shaped-and-challenged-you dept.

Education 240

sachachua asks: "I'm sure most people have a story about terrific teachers they have had at some point in their life. You know, the kind of teacher who gets you really excited about subjects like computer science or physics. I credit my fascination with Linux to my first year high school teacher, who let me play with being a sysadmin while trying to figure out how to set up a Linux BBS. Then there's one of my college professors, who was really approachable and let me ask all sorts of Java-related questions outside class - even gave me extra projects to work on. There are countless professors and teaching assistants who make learning computer science fun and exciting for students. Would Slashdot readers like to share a couple of great stories?"

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Best Techers (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#492686)

If you define the 'best teachers' I've had by the amount I've learned from them, then the two best techers I've ever had I hated. As a matter of fact, everyone hated them, they were evil and nasty. (In class)

The first was my AP Biology teacher in high school, whose tests were questions winnowed from all of the prior AP tests, just the questions that happened to be on the present subject matter. The curve in her class was 60% was an A, to fail you needed to get below 15%. The class was torture to live through, but I learned more about biology in that class than I learned in any three other high school classes. (And I took LOTS of AP classes.)

The second teacher was in college, and he also wrote evil tests : true and false, if false explain why. Mutliple choice, select the answers that are true, don't select the ones that are false, if all are true select all of them, if none are true select none of them. The curves for his tests were take your score and add about 41. Again I learned an immense amount in the classes he taught and hated his guts. He would stalk students that were not paying attention and pounce nasty questions on them. But you learned...

yourself (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#492687)

I have been fortunate in going to public schools all my life (ie private ones, where you pay). This means that my teachers have on the whole been dedicated and thoroughly inspiring to me. My first most amazing teacher was my old Latin teacher, who was so enthusiastic towards his subject, everyone loved it even though they had started with the apprehension that it was a dead, boring and difficult language. Unfortunately he had to retire because he had ME, but we all still loved latin because of the great start we had been given to it.

My second teacher who was really inspiring was my English teacher. I had never really liked English until I had him. Whether I now love it because he liked my style and thought I was good at it, or because he was just a great teacher I don't know. I certainly remember striving away to get an A in every prep I did, desperately unhappy if I did not achieve it.

Then was my piano teacher. I come from a highly musical family, with my father owning Howarths, the top oboe manufacturers in the UK. I'd always loved the piano, and always wanted to learn it, and finally I had an amazing teacher too, who has pushed me forward and inspired me to work hours each day. I went from Grade 3 to Grade 8 in three years. But she is a different kind of inspirational teacher. She will shout at me, tell me I'm crap, tell me I ruin my pieces by my weak fingers and lack of control, and completely demoralise me. Yet she does this because she knows I am musical, and she knows what I am capable of. She gets just as frustrated as I do when I don't do something well.

So my favourite subjects have been music, latin, and english. However I am not doing Music for A level, nor Latin although I would very much wish to. For I am inspired by interest as well as a great teacher. I am studying Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Chemistry for A level and English Literature. I have never had an inspiration teacher in any of my science subjects, but I love them so much I have still continued to learn them. English I am doing partly due to my love of the language and of our literature, but also because my teacher has inspired me so much to study it. It breaks my heart not to do music for A level, and keep it just as learning the piano and violin. Perhaps then I should have studied music over English.

Then of course comes computers. My teacher? Myself.

So what does comprise a good teacher? Someone who is inspirational, and opens your eyes to their subject? No, it is someone who opens your eyes to the very concept of learning, beyond that of their own subject. It is someone who inspires you to go far in whatever you do. My latin teacher told me once "Aut Caesar, aut nihil". (Either Ceasar, or nothing, implying you go for everything, or nothing). And that is something I've always kept to, and always will. A good teacher is someone who inspires you to become compassionate about something wider than their own subject. It can't be limited just to learning about geography, it has to be learning itself.

A passion for learning about a subject comes from within you, and teachers can only show you what is already there inside of you. For me, I have a great compassion to learn about everything I possibly can. I love the concepts of quantum physics, I love the idea of computers just going down to 1s and 0s, I love music just being different sound frequencies. A teacher can only show you what is already inside you. And if it is truly there, you will follow your insticts despite terrible teachers, as I have in my sciences and maths. I am inspired by a willingness to learn I created myself. Yes great teachers along the way have helped me want to learn, perhaps have shown me a wider spectrum than their individual subject. But ultimately a teacher doesn't matter. If you are destined to follow a particular career, you will get there through sheer determination regardless of the quality of your teachers.

Good Teachers, Bad Tech Staff (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#492689)

The Best teacher I've had so far is my Middle School T.A.G. Instructor. She's one of the few teachers I've had who actually has said that she doesn't know everything, but, she can point us to someone or some resource that can teach us more about whatever it is we're researching, or that we have an interest in. She also treated us like actual people instead of "students". For that, I'm eternally grateful. She's also vocalized her disgust for the man I'm about to describe below.

Now, on the bad side, there's the man who leads up our School's technology divison, which we all lovingly refer to as "Mr. Dick". This is the guy that told one of my friends that Linux was based on Windows NT. Our school is set up so that all a student can do on the network is browse the internet. That's IT. So, the HS T.A.G. program decided to put down some of our funds from a grant we had gotten to buy a Computer that we could actually do things that we were interested in. (Programming, Video Editing, Music Creation, etc.) We wanted to do all the setup ourselfs, so that it wouldn't be set up like the other "drone" computers in the school, so that we could actually use it for what it was intended for. We come into class the next day, and, lo and behold, he's sitting there with some guy from R&D (A company which is contracted by the school for tech work...they pretty much do his job for him) he's setting it up just like all the other computers. So, we jump the BIOS, format and do a dual boot w/ Linux and Windows 2000. He takes it, reformats. We do the same. He does the same. And so on. This cycle is still going to this day.

Another wonderful tale of Dicky's wonderous deeds is when some stupid script kiddie in our school had a disk w/ a keystroke recorder, and left it in the library. The librarian asked him if it was his, and he said it was. So, he got pulled down to Dickmeister's office, and he tried to interrogate him w/ the whole "I can have you arrested for this!" thing. He lied and said he got it from some other kid (Who I don't really like in the first place) who helped us set up some stuff on the T.A.G. Computer. So, Mr. Dick uses this as an excuse to try to take said computer out of the T.A.G. room because it might be "evidence". That's how he found out that we formatted, etc. So, he threatened this kid w/ Arrest n' whatknot, and he made up all kinds of laws he could get him on....until he got a lawyer. He stopped bothering him after that. It was still 2 more months after that before we got the computer back. They also tried to tell us that the grant we got specifically for the T.A.G. program were not T.A.G. funds, and the principal said that "We put all the grant money the school gets into a pot, and then we divide it up to the different programs at the school."

I hate my school.

I'll stop ranting for today. I've got a couple dozen more stories that I could tell, but, I'm getting all pissed off again from remembering this.

~~plungerhead [mailto]

Steve Ray (1)

synaptic (4599) | more than 13 years ago | (#492694)

Hands down, the most influential teacher I had with regard to computers was my sixth grade computer teacher, Steve Ray.

He taught middle school computer classes in the mid to late 80s. The school had a lab full of Apple IIe computers. In a later class they obtained an Apple IIgs which was the desire of many a student.

A primary goal of the class was to teach the students how to type. There was an interactive Apple program that took the student through a series of lessons and then allowed him to practice until he became proficient with that set of keys. Mr. Ray immediately recognized my potential when I consistantly topped the list of typing speed.

The challenge of becoming the fastest typist was second only to beating the typing games. Before I knew it, I was typing 40wpm. My parents had already recognized that I possessed a natural musical ability and some piano lessons may have paved the way for my typing success.

While my typing abilities gained his attention, it was the algorithms I wrote in LOGO that convinced him I had "the knack". I remember sitting in other classes writing LOGO routines on paper and anxiously waiting for computer class or visiting the computer lab at lunch and after school to try out my creations.

At some point, he moved me to the AppleIIgs which was connected to a large TV monitor for demonstration purposes. During class, I would type in what he was teaching the rest of the class. He loaned me an IBM compatible version of LOGO so I could install it on my XT at home (which never did quite work as well as the apple version).

The ultimate gift from this teacher, beyond his innate ability to challenge me and keep me interested while other students struggled with the primary assignment, was a recommendation to NCR that I be given a scholarship to a summer computer camp. This act singlehandedly paved the way for my thirst for knowledge and understanding.

I traveled to the NCR Headquarters in Dayton, Ohio every day for several weeks in the summer of 1988 where I learned BASIC, core principles of logic, and how to approach problems to be solved programmatically. We were given tours of fault tolerant computer centers that had swipe cards, concrete walls that could withstand natural and manmade disasters, and computing resources that boggled the mind at that time. A general comradarie flourished among me and the other young people there as we discovered the magic of computers.

My future was given a push in the right direction. Where I am now, not only as a respected programmer and systems/network administrator, but life as a whole, is a direct result of the mind expanding, think out of the box mentoring I received at this camp and in Mr. Ray's classes. I feel that as I began to question how things worked and comprehend what, at first glance, seemed intractable my thought processes and perceptions about everyday life changed as well.

Many teachers are disillusioned and downright apathetic. I've had my share of teachers who teach out of the book and offer nothing to guide and gently push a student who shows promise. Mr. Ray truly cared not only about his student's understanding of the core lessons of the class but also made extra efforts to provide encouragement to those who quickly grasped the basic concepts and sought to explore more. While I'm sure his love for computers was deep, his actions, and my immediate recognitition of his presence in my development, suggest that he was an overall top-notch and generally nice guy.

Mr. Ray was an Air Force reservist and was called back to active duty at the end of my 8th grade year. I believe he went to an Air Force base in Colorado Springs. My attempts to locate him about a year ago failed. While I have been unable to thank him personally, maybe some day he will stumble upon this message and have a sense of satisfaction of the role he played in my life.

Thank you, Mr. Ray. You inspired me and surely countless others.

Highscool Lab (1)

Jeff Hartmann (14034) | more than 13 years ago | (#492700)

My senior year in high school there was a new computer lab being installed and they needed student assistants to help the other kids with Word and Excel and the like. They also wanted to get the lab connected to the Internet. So I signed up.

When I got there they had about 15 PCs and a phone line. The hubs and the server were in the mail and the network cards were in a box in the corner. They also purchased 5 Mac's that were delivered later.

Once the server was delivered I basically setup the lab. They wanted NT, so I installed NT server and set it all up. In the process I totally learned how to do a lot of things with profiles and policies that I never would have known about. We also used services on the NT machine to create a shared drive that the Macs and the PC's could both see to help move file between them. I even setup the Proxy server at first so that 5 of those PC's could share the one modem. Before I left they had ISDN installed and all the computers were then online. We even wired the library, a couple other computer labs, and a few of the other rooms in the building. It was the best lab in the entire school district.

I never would have been able to do it without the lab supervisor. He gave me a lot of room to do what I wanted and usually I was able to fix most of the problems on my own. We used to discuss problems that we had in the lab with studets that tried to "hack" the 98 machines and generally we solved most of the problems or found solutions online.

I still to this day go to lunch with him whenever I'm in town and I occasionally help him with any problems he may be having with the lab. I guess they still talk about the "guy that installed the first NT network in the district."

I can also say that after working in the lab I can totally see why teaching is so difficult. The students aren't the problem either, its the administration and all the hoops that constantly have to be jumped through to get anything done.

History (1)

John Whorfin (19968) | more than 13 years ago | (#492705)

My best teacher was a high-school history teacher. He was hard core and didn't take crap from anyone, but he made history *fun*.

He was an ex-Ranger and everything else (we were sure he was also DB Cooper).

If you asked a stupid question, he told you it was stupid -- a trait missed, I think, today.

Unfortunatly he, like many of my high school teachers, simply gave up. They were old and even the best teachers finally burn out. I think every generation finally gives up on "the kids today" which is too bad.

My $.02

More than a teacher (1)

X-Nc (34250) | more than 13 years ago | (#492710)

The one teacher that had the most influance on me was my father. He taught high school math and physics as well as being the football and track (and occational basketball and wrestling) coach. Not only did I have him through out my four years of high school as a teacher, he was my coach. And if you think I might have gotten a bit of a free ride in ether schoolastics or athletics because of it think again. He was incredible fair; I had to work just a little harder than anyone else but I passed or failed/played or not according to my abilities. After I graduated (and subsequently dropped out of collage) I had the privilage of coaching with him for a few years as his assistent.

I didn't only learn the subjects and sports from him, though. I learned how to teach, how to modivate someone to help them achieve their goals. I learned that you can be in a position of authority without having to be a dictator or tyrant. That having and keeping a good sense of humor can help you through hard times. I learned that nothing is more important than family. That being a man does not mean you can't feel and show those feelings. I also learned that knowledge is a gift that should be shared. Learn everything you can about anything and pass it on to someone. There are many more things he taught me. How I live and who I am is, in a large part, due to him.

Last Feb. 2nd, he passed away after five years of illness. It's hard seeing the man who was your strength being eaten away in front of you. But even in this he taught me something. No matter what happens or how bad it gets, nothing can defeat your spirit. Never give up.


O'Reilly (1)

yomahz (35486) | more than 13 years ago | (#492711)

O'Reilly's always been a great teacher.

A mind is a terrible thing to taste.

The guy who taught me IBM 370 assembler... (1)

Garg (35772) | more than 13 years ago | (#492712)

... believe it or not, was the best teacher I've had for any subject.

I was taking night classes at a tech school. By day he was the DP manager (what would be a CIO these days) for US Pipe in Chattanooga, TN. Why he chose to teach night classes I don't know... maybe just for the love of teaching. Whatever the reason was, he was damn good at it.

He told one story that still makes me laugh. This was 1979, when most of the smaller shops were just weaning themselves from the old punch cards. US Pipe was made the leap, and he was trying to find someone who wanted his old card punch. Not only would no one buy it, but the only people who had any interest wanted to be paid for carting it away. So he got some of his workers to help him load it in the back of his truck, and he used it to anchor his floating dock at his lake house.


My expirience (1) (56210) | more than 13 years ago | (#492720)


being on many schools/edu I can only remember very few teacher, those that were really great and I enjoyed the class...:-)

There was one physic teacher, a really old one, who always liked to make something with the laser we had, cause he could smoke than during the lesson, you couldn't see the laser otherwise...

Everybody in the class had problems with math and always short before a test, someone asked him in his hour if he could explain it. He did, and after 10 min everyone had understood the stuff, which the real math teacher couldn't explain in weeks...

The other one was a historic teacher, you could ask him what you wanted about historic, he could always tell you some interesting story that sounded, as if he would have been there himself...:-)You could hear this needle fall in classroom if he spoke...Just because it was so interesting to listen to him...:-)

Another physic teacher had the abiltity to compute everything in his head, faster than you could even type it in your calculator, quite impressive...

Most teacher had no clue of course, they were just doing this job, because of the long holidays they had and most teachers in germany are paid by the state and can't loose their job, which is another big reason for many to become one...


One in particular Stands out (1)

Fanmail (61003) | more than 13 years ago | (#492722)

The one really great CS instructor I had was in my Junior and Senior Year of High School by the name of Hannelore Maddox. What made her so great was the fact that she cared about her students. It wasn't just lip service that she said she cared, it was that her entire being said she cared. Her license plates at the time were "HUGAKID" and "HUG1KID." When she gave exams, she understood that having the material sink in was more important than the grade, but the grade was what most anxious high school students are looking at! So to compensate, she would give exams on a Thursday or Friday. That Friday night or Saturday night, our class and a class from another school she taught at would get together and have a study session, using the exams that we had taken earlier. Most of the people would have mediocre scores, while others had excellent scores. We would do peer teaching to make sure that everyone understood the material, then we'd take a make-up exam when we were ready. The make-up exam would then overwrite the mediocre scores. People would have good scores and also know the material. Since it was an AP class, we'd all take the AP test at the end of the year. It wasn't uncommon to have everyone score 4s and 5s. The only unfortunate thing is that when I took her class, she was teaching Pascal, which has fallen by the wayside. Sure could use a teacher like her in my efforts to learn C++ and Java.

The best teacher I've ever had... (1)

dos4gw (64193) | more than 13 years ago | (#492724)

...was my 12th-13th grade physics teacher. He really managed to get all of us excited about physics. We kept pondering all sorts of weird ideas, discussing things like photons rotating around each other and stuff like that. This sort of thing really gives you an idea about all those numbers and relations you're learning about. One day I found out (on the internet) that this particular teacher had done some great work on chaos theory when he was at university. Asked about it he prepared a presentation about chaos theory and it's implicancies and invited us to learn a bit more about this subject *in his spare time*. Tell you what: we all came back to school at about 07:00pm to listen to his explanations. As far as I know, this teacher is now working for a company in the UK. He left our school the year we had our graduation.

Most Memorable Teacher (1)

DartX (71937) | more than 13 years ago | (#492727)

Most memorable teacher in my case went by the name Fred Hurst. It was him who, in pshysics, tought us the concept of mass very clearly. He took a brick wrapped in masking tape and passed it around the class to test its mass. Then he would quickly swap it for a wrapped brick of styrofoam, same size, and toss it at a student. Then there was the chess club he was in charge of... but thats another story.

fish + frog = cow; (1)

dezwart (113598) | more than 13 years ago | (#492739)

Another ubiqitous CS teacher. Name of Dr. Gary Stafford.

I live in OZ (.au) and Dr. Stafford was from Canada. He would always turn up to lectures with a 1 Litre mug of Coffee, which he would proceed to demolish withing 30 minutes.

I had him for a first year subject, introduction to computer hardware and operating systems. He ended up showing us how to code a micro kernel for an old nova 2. A very old machine, possibly before the PDP series from DEC. Needless to say, i's console consisted with switches and LEDs.

The first thing I rember from his lectures was his examples.

(Think of this in a kermit the frog voice, after too much coffee)

"This is how you can perform addition in B:
auto fish = 1, frog = 2, cow;
fish + frog = cow;"

A CS legend if I ever saw one.

TI-99/4A and the Casio FX7000 (1)

ruebarb (114845) | more than 13 years ago | (#492740)

Yeah, I know - not glamourous, but the thing is this - we were poor folk in Montana, and they didn't have PC's up there and very little involvement in school.

They scraped together a couple hundred bucks and bought me a TI-99/4A - which got me started on BASIC and a couple of books of basic programs (the kind of books you order from the Arrow book club - you know... that was the start of the lunacy

Later I lost track of it but my programming experience was later used in High school using a programmable graphics calculator (the Casio FX-7000 - with about 480 bytes of memory!!!) and programming the Mandelbrot set using those mathmatical instructions and other fractals and watching them plot out on the screen. Lots of fun. But I never had a decent CS teacher. What can you do?

col. T (1)

wizbit (122290) | more than 13 years ago | (#492746)

Any longtime friends of mine from military school knows the pressures of the environment at a military academy can sure be the downfall of many a gifted student. The military has a long history of being pigheaded and openly disenfranchising the majority of its more intellectual members through redundancy and procedure.

My high school math teacher of four years (algebra through calculus), Lee Temperton, made his classes fun and exciting simply by taking large chunks of time, his time, to involve himself in students' lives. That's the genius of teaching, the ability to shape other people's thoughts and opinions through the wisdom of your own successes and failures.

There was never a time where Lee (or Colonel T, as we came to call him) would refuse to address an issue, however private, in the highest of urgencies, and that quality is still appreciated by me today.

As far as math and dry theory goes, he could make it seem easy both by illustrating simple examples for proofs as well as exploring the various technological benefits of the advanced graphing calculators.

Above all good teachers prepare you for life and leave lasting impressions - perhaps the best shot at immortality lays in educating the young.

Godspeed, Colonel T.

Best Teacher (1)

Nybbler (123556) | more than 13 years ago | (#492747)

My best teacher had to be a Mr. A. Who allowed me to set up a class web server running Linux as a final project.

True or False? (1)

vchoy (134429) | more than 13 years ago | (#492754)

I have been reading the previous posts and some have good, some have bad experiences.

I wonder if this is true? (I have heard it many times)

The students that do well at university go become professionals at companys/orgs.
The students that can not get out of it become academics (lectures, tutors, lab assistants etc etc).
This is most probably a sterotype...anyways.

I must be lucky (1)

pigeonhed (137303) | more than 13 years ago | (#492756)

I always hear people say how they only had 1 or 2 teachers make a difference in thier lives. I have been incredibly fortunate to learn from many great teachers. In grade school I can remember at least 5 that helped me enjoy reading and supported my quests for knowledge. Then throughout highschool, college and grad school more and more fine teachers helped with keeping me interested and challenged. Maybe instead of expecting the teacher to come to you, you should go to them. I can only remember a few teachers who were not accessible and friendly.

Prof Robin Bourjaily (1)

ellem (147712) | more than 13 years ago | (#492762)

---Managed to stroke my ego enough to make me write some of the best stuff I ever wrote.

best teachers (1)

snyrt (151824) | more than 13 years ago | (#492766)

what's up with the stealth geese comments? they're getting really old. anyways, i must say that i've had three great teachers in my time. all of them around 10th grade. the summer after 9th grade i went to military school to take chemistry. my teacher there kicked ass. any time we didn't understand something she'd let us go back to the chemical closet and blow shit up. had i taken it at public school like i would have i wouldn't have gotten to blow shit up like that. She was an awesome teacher. she'd tell us stories about old russian spies and always stressed that we should follow our joy. she was awesome. in 10th grade i had 2 great teachers. my creative writing teacher was cool because he was so laid back. we'd just sit around, laugh at each other, and listen to porno music. it was really quite fun. he'd sit there and talk about the time he was fired for selling weed to a student. my computer science teacher from that year was pretty damn cool as well. we'd just chill in her class, and help out people who had no fuckin' clue about how program C++ and then play around with network settings to freak out our network admins that had no clue how to administrate a network. i got 105% in that class every quarter 'cause it was so damn easy, but it was fun and educational. those were my best teachers.

not a math teacher (1)

serenarae (154753) | more than 13 years ago | (#492769)

My most influential teacher had to be Mrs. Gall. She was my english teacher from 5-8th grade. It wasn't any old english class, it was for the kids that would score within the 99th percentile on the CAT tests. So that's where she came in. She challenged us to the fullest extent. EVERY marking period, we would have to invent something, write a three page research paper, do another 12 pages of either journal entries or written pages, 2 book reports and a master class. She showed me so much of the world, and expanded my views on almost everything. She encouraged us to think outside of the normal boundries and go out and explore every little thing. If it wasn't for her persistant nagging, I probably wouldn't have been able to get anything done in my life. It's actually kinda haunting now that I get to thinking about it...

Ah, computer science and teachers. (1)

colindiz (162137) | more than 13 years ago | (#492771)

Computer courses have the best teachers. I've had three so far.

One was a balding zany character who refused to admit to his receding hairline (It's true Mr. Monks) and pretty much let us do whatever. Another was the most open and flexible teacher I've ever had in any classroom, and the last and current is questionable at best. Let me explain why.

My current teacher doesn't really think out his assignments. I don't want to say that they were oh, pulled out of his ass while laying some cable , but that's what you'd think. They're all the same. "Make a website." "Research this." "Read this and write your thoughts in an essay." He'll use big words and strange grammar structures to make it sound sophisticated, but it's not the computer science that I fell in love with at the age of 10. It's designed so that he has to the minimal amount of work possible, and he gets paid a premium for it. This man honestly doesn't have to work: He has labtechs (they get extra credits) to fix computers for him, so all he has to do is mark essays -- never with any insightful comments or thought provoking messages, just with a "Good" or "Excellent!". We don't learn.

My sister's in the class with me (she's grade 12, I'm grade 10, it's a grade 11 class), and we recently had to make a project without using any website builder tools. She is making a simple web site, using SimpleText (Macs in the school system -- a whole different tirade awaits you there from me.) and recently confided that that project was the most fun for her because she was actually learning and saw how easy it was to pick up HTML and use resources on the web to solve any snags she ran into.

That was the bad teacher. The good teacher, Mr. Readman (who, sadly enough, is now just a substitute teacher because his wife got lured away to a better paying job in a different city where he's only on the sub list) was this man's complete opposite. He actually had criteria, on paper, that he'd give you before he started explaining the project. And he was open to student-led projects. I easily finished the tasks he set out for me, so he let me do whatever I wanted as long as it showed that I was learning something about technology. That year I broke into the school computer system (and didn't get suspended that time :), set up and administered a linux server remotely during my CS class time and played around with DHTML. This is the way teaching, especially in a course like CS, should be. Freeform. The students should find a path and see where it takes them, getting only guidance and a helping nudge from the teacher. People who treat it as a real course with research project and essays are missing the point.

Similar to art, fun, oldschool CS is an expression of your feelings. Take any language, make something you're proud of in it. Make an animation that boosts your self confidence because it uses tricks that you learned yourself.

But God, if I have to write another essay on how Napster is evil, I'm taking a god damned hammer to their G4. :)

My undergrad Math professor... (1)

joel.neely (165789) | more than 13 years ago | (#492773)

...who told us explicitly, "I don't want you to memorize formulae; I want you to understand what an integral IS well enough that you can derive any formula you need for the task at hand."

His insistence on comprehension over brute force rote repetition has serve me well in all my work in Math, Computing Science, systems analysis, and everyday programming (even though it sometimes drives my co-workers nuts ;-).

I hate being taught (1)

faichai (166763) | more than 13 years ago | (#492775)

For as long as I can remember, I have always hated be taught anything! Even my step-father recalls stories of trying to teach me to ride a bike and me going ballistic because I hated being told a) what to do, b) what I am doing wrong. This is generally down to an extreme amount of impatience that also effects my teaching abilities...I can't.

As such, I have more or less self-taught myself everything. And in my opinion that is one of the best ways to learn. What is more having information shoved down my neck has a worse effect in that I lose interest in it, because I associate the lecture/seminar/tutorial with boredom and then associate the boredom with the subject at hand.

This is why I left Uni, I turned out to be so disinterested in everyting I was supposed to be learning, that I couldn't bring myself to do the coursework, assignments and the main project, that I would have failed anyway.

However almost immediately after leaving, and getting a job, I started having ideas about a new programming language and OS and because I wasn't equipped to investigate these with my current knowledgebase, it pushed me into further investigation of the subjects involved. And now a almost 2 years after leaving uni, I am heavily involved in learning and applying princicples of computer architecture, microkernels, reflective object orientation, UI, programming language design and so on. I mean I am actually trying to learn lambda calculus and all the hard theory that goes behind all of this as well.

So while its horses for courses, no teacher has ever had an amazing effect on my life, except perhaps for Mr. Hartwright who told me not to use OO Pascal in my school project ('94), whose advice I promptly ignored, and went on to get highest in the class ;-)

Re:my best teacher was one of my earliest:the TRS- (1)

ashoemak (166771) | more than 13 years ago | (#492776)

I was also greatly influenced by the TRS-80. Mr. Cohen, a math professor at my junior high school, who won a TRS-80 Model 1 in a Radio Shack giveaway. He brought the computer in to the school and allowed my friend Arthur and I to spend a great deal of time with it. Our art teacher even let us experiment with using the computer for computer art (not that you could do that much with 4K and Level I BASIC). That was followed by the further good fortune of my father winning $500 in the lottery around Christmas time and getting me my own TRS-80 (16K and Level II BASIC!!). The TRS-80 certainly changed my life, too.

And I still love art (1)

xigxag (167441) | more than 13 years ago | (#492778)

This isn't a comp-sci story, but I had an Argentinian art teacher in the eighth grade named Ms. Bozzo. Once I was sick in the hospital, and she came to visit me. Before leaving, she gave me a warm passionate kiss dead on the lips. That was pretty "fun and exciting" for THIS student. Sigh!

Oh, um, yeah, she also got me interested in Klee, Miro, Picasso, whatever...

Re:amazed at lack of good college stories. (1)

duffbeer703 (177751) | more than 13 years ago | (#492780)

The real amazing thing is the lack of stories about subjects other than CS. Aparently, teachers of English and History or Science have had little impact on the Slashdot population.

Maybe this explains why Slashdot is such a dysfunctional 'community'? There is nothing worse (or more pathetic) than a bunch of CS geeks vying for attention on a messageboard.

School is more than training for an occupation.

Re:Geometry in high school... (1)

Yunzil (181064) | more than 13 years ago | (#492784)

I had the most inspiring teacher not in college, but in high school, in a field totally unrelated to CS.

Same here. In the 11th grade I took trigonometry, and the teacher was a nice guy, but he was one of those read-from-the-book teachers. I came out of trig not knowing much more than when I went in. In my senior year, I took Calculus with Mrs. Scales. One day she got frustrated that the class couldn't answer some trig-related questions, so she took one class period going over trig stuff, and I was immediately enlightened -- I *understood* what trig was all about. I got more out of those 40 minutes than I did the entire previous year.

I'm having trouble trying to think of *any* other teacher in high school or college who was as good.

Maybe my EE prof in my freshman year of college, although most of the class probably wouldn't agree with me. :) He used to encourage people to put down the calculators and think about what was going on in a circuit rather than plugging in numbers. Many people don't like that. They want to know what formula to use and that's it.

(Mildly offtopic): A few semesters later I started tutoring for that class, and I had a hell of a time getting people to work out a problem in their heads. I sometimes had to physically take their calculators away from them. Very frustrating. :(

The Internet (1)

SkyIce (184974) | more than 13 years ago | (#492786)

I've honestly never had a comp sci teacher who I didn't know more than walking into the course. None of them have ever wanted to accept this, so I haven't gotten much from the courses I've taken. I'm still in high school, so I'm expecting this to change at college. To those of you who are in / have gone through college, do you ever find professors who don't know what they're doing?

Credit for everything I know goes to the internet. Reading others' code is probably the biggest source, but there are others such as documentation and IRC. I have no books.

Re:I hate being taught (1)

lucius (189447) | more than 13 years ago | (#492787)

...I have more or less self-taught myself everything....

Including English it seems....

Teachers (1)

Ulky (199350) | more than 13 years ago | (#492789)

My current CS teacher is okay on a personal level but he does not know anything about modern computing, he refuses to recognise anything beyond Windows and Microsoft Access. Also, students who know what they are doing (ie. myself) are often overlooked as he tries to hell the others pass the course.

Physics is another matter, most of the our teacher is great, the lessons are fun and everyone enjoys them. At other times though you get the impression that teachers do not really care and would be anywhere instead of infront of a class of 20....

Re:+, -,* ,/ ,modular forms (1)

Ulky (199350) | more than 13 years ago | (#492790)

Your right as far as CS is concerned. All the programming and other skills I know are self taught.

Re:Snoreloskan var frn Stockholm, Karl Oscar (1)

tsmith213 (205004) | more than 13 years ago | (#492792)

that's the funniest shit i've read all night

best teacher (1)

SmellMyTeenSpirit (207288) | more than 13 years ago | (#492793)

well, the tacher that has had the most infulence on my life would be my freshman year of high school humanities teacher, DuBios. He never really did work, we just spent the two hours a day discussing things, and I learned more in his class than any other. Plus, he got me into /.

My IT teacher (1)

Mark Round (211258) | more than 13 years ago | (#492796)

The one that I remember most, and got me to where I am today was my old IT/Computing teacher, George Dryden. After doing my GCSEs, I wanted to go on and do A-Level computing ( before it turned into 'how-to-use-a-word-processor'). Problem was my school didn't do Computing at A-level, so I took technology which seemed the closest thing at the time. Well, 1 year later I decided that it sucked and I'd had enough. I decided that I would try and do the A-level computing course on my own, and the only teacher who encouraged me was Mr.Dryden. He arranged, out of his own time, for all the paper work to be filled in, he arranged for me to sit the exam, he marked my coursework, got the syllabus guides and a whole host of other 'admin' stuff. None of which he had to do in his job - he just did it because he was a nice guy. The end result was that I passed A-level computing with an 'A' grade, and got 96% for my project, got accepted into University, and am now finishing my final year before I go out into a job with a big London company. None of which I could have done without his help. An all-round top bloke, as well. If only there were more teachers like that around....

sorry. (1)

zencode (234108) | more than 13 years ago | (#492808)

i'm sorry to say, but no teacher has ever gotten me excited about a subject. i've never felt that they considered the subject truly important, past the test that friday, of course. i realize this is the inverse of what is being asked, but the ones that truly earned my ire were the ones who counted notes as grades. nothing like someone trying to stuff you into a mold. "no, think like this."

and lest anyone flame me, it wasn't for lack of imagination. to this day i'm still a sucker for just about any scientific announcment, finding, whitepaper or article. it's actually a foobin' wonder that i was bored silly in physics.

sincere apologies for the rant. i realize there are a rare few wonderful teachers out there. big ups to them. i just wish i knew one or two of them when it mattered.

My .02,

The best teacher .. (1)

dvNull (235982) | more than 13 years ago | (#492809)

Usually the best teachers are the ones who teach you more than just the subject they teach.

By 6th grade I had come to detest mathematics. My 6th grade teacher Mr Krishnamurthy, not only made me love mathematics, but also got me to love programming.

He made math more like a puzzle game to solve and soon enough my grades were better and I was starting to enjoy the subject more.

ALL of his students feel that way!

I still call on him every other month or so and thank him for all he has done for me :)
The number of the beast ...

Hmm ok .. lets see (1)

SirFlakey (237855) | more than 13 years ago | (#492810)

Best teachers (at Uni) because I can hardly think back to school (actually I can remember a few good ones there too - but I work with them now =) ). Basically anyone that had two qualities :
1. Not showing a "smarter than thou" attitude although they probably were and hence being approachable

2. People that showed where common sense applied and used it to derive the entire set of rules from basic principles - that is just cool.

You can read on if you like but unless you know these people it probably won't make much sense to you =).
Here is my list of people that come to mind immediately. Best Teacher/Lecturer :
Prof. M. Johnson & Dr. L. Hamey , Computing Science at Macquarie Uni Sydney. (Hamey winning the best use of Powerpoint award- yes I know it's MS, but you gotta see that sliding window presentation folks.)

Honorary mention : Prof. L. Maciazek (apologies if mispelled) for being human , and laughing at my silly cartoons =)

Dr. M. Battey Macquarie Uni Sydney Electronics for being human.(Honorary award goes to K. Imrie for bringing common sense into the practicals and for being truely an academic =) and for being able to decifer the mess of wires on my desk as a barrel shift encoder)

There are many more (Thank you to you all)

Math Teacher (1)

StarbuckZero (237897) | more than 13 years ago | (#492811)

Because she was about money and she looked good. I when back to the my to see here but she took a higher paying job. =P

Re:Scared of math? (1)

Coccyx The Clown (237937) | more than 13 years ago | (#492812)

Dont be too hasty in dismissing all math as easy. Key word(s) in your post: high school. You think that's real math? It's not even a thorough introduction to easy math. And if you are trying and you still can't do it, you are not very bright. Even the smartest people think some math is hard, even if they can do it. It doesn't matter if you got an A on your math final(im sure /. readers are -very- impressed by that). Even with an "open mind," you probably wouldn't even know what what was being asked when presented with some difficult math. I am certainly not lauding the arrogance of self proclaimed "math gods" on /. But if a person has taken the time and energy to learn math, they have every right to be proud of that.

Hmm thats a tough one (1)

Praetorian42 (248627) | more than 13 years ago | (#492818)

Ive never had a teacher like that, my school has horrific teachers... For instance my 8th grade algebra teacher, i was a year ahead of everyone else, and that stupid $*%# put me a year behind, i hadnt recovered from that until this year, my junior year in high school...

I had always been an all A math student, and ahead of everyone else, but 1 teacher can really screw things up...

And then theres the lack of a good english teacher. (Count the comma splices, win a prize!)

Teachers.. (1)

Ninja Penguin (248825) | more than 13 years ago | (#492820)

My 11th and 12th grade CS teacher, Mr. Moses, is the only teacher I have ever had that values the opinions and the skills of his students over those of the "experts" (read idiots) from the school board. He has allowed our Cisco Networking class to wire most of the school and redo some of the extremely broken wiring laid by "professionals". He has also allowed my to set up a linux server for our web-based curriculum. He's a hacker in the true sense. Too bad I'm graduating and he's leaving...

Ti-83, Visual Basic, HTML+TIME, Fractals, and CSS (1)

B1LL_GAT3Z (253695) | more than 13 years ago | (#492823)

The teacher who pushed me to do my best ad work the hardest, would have to be Mr. Cuddihy from a class called: Computers and Calculators and you learn just that (see title)

He pressured me in different ways:

  • When others were creating games for their TI-83's (a requirement for the class) he pressured me to go even farther and to work harder. (Cleaner, Shorter, Faster Code)
  • We started doing some Visual Basic which was very easy, so he challanged me to build things that no one (in our class) had ever thought of... An Instant Messenger Program.
  • For a project we had to pick a topic to write about... Mr. Cuddihy gave me an article pertaining to HTML+TIME. We both agreed that it looked pretty good, but when I started my research, there was literally no documentation on it! I had to surf around the Microsoft site, where there was a little reference to it, and chat with people on the HTML+TIME newsgroup and put in a lot of extra hours, but it all paid off! I created a site that was getting responses from (for example) the Lead Program Manager of Internet Explorer, and is still getting responses today!
  • When we started Fractals, Mr. Cuddihy told and showed us all these great programs to create them with, it was really cool. BUT, before he would let us touch the computer, we had to learn how to take a Fractal Equation, and draw a fractal on graph paper... This was *very* challanging, but very rewarding!
  • CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) went along with the Web Page unit, but they weren't taught. (most of the students were still learning the basics of HTML) Mr. Cuddihy pressured me to create a web page *totally* in Style Sheets. (No Table, Font, or Other Commonly used formatting tags) I created the site, altough writing it totally in CSS was totally useless, it was great experience!

The next year, Mr. Cuddihy moved away without notice... supposedly to Ithaca, New York. (Which was interesting, because another one of my friends had magically run away to Ithaca... I think it's the witness protection program!) So, Mr. Cuddihy, wherever you are, thanks!

Best teacher...My S.T.E.P. instructor (1)

Mr. Bubbles712 (254513) | more than 13 years ago | (#492824)

I'm sorry, He was my best teacher. No doubt about it. 4-6 grades were some of the best times at 1:00 pm-2:00pm twice a week. He taught us things that opened up our minds to completely different things, such as film makeing, (we watched an episode of "Unsolved Mysteries", and remeber what he said about the different producers), computers,(volentarly let us use his own MacSE 30 with an extra 20meg hard drive), and what happenes when you try and make yourself black out, (you lose brain cells). But I will always rember how he opened up some painful stuff and told us about how Cat scans work.

He also forced me to learn to type. I was in 5th grade, and was typing. That type, (no pun intended), of learning was started in 7th grade, and finalized in 9th. Hows that for advanced?

The Poems, (an is is just a was that was, and that is very small), the science lessons, (you can boil water in a leaf, and not have the leaf catch on fire), and brain teasers, (How can someone who is only 5'10" hang themselves from 10 foot high ceilings, when they have no marks on them, except burns on thier feet?).

If I'm ranting, I'm sorry, but I just can't say enough good things about Mr. Siegle, (now Dr. Siegle). I just wish I could actally call him Del and not think to myself, (cool, I just called a teacher by his first name.)

Mark W. Wallace

everyone likes hearing their own name (1)

nzhavok (254960) | more than 13 years ago | (#492825)

I wouldn't say I had any great teachers in high school or for that matter in my first varsity (Canterbury - New Zealand), in fact this probably contributed to my bad grades and eventual dropout.

My second tertiary experience was at the University of Otago, I found this totally different from Canterbury. All the lecturers I had in my first year at Otago seemed genuinely interested in the students and it was obvious that they took the time to get to know us. One lecturer in particular, Willem Labuschagne, memorized all our names and faces before taking his first class. Now everyone likes hearing their own name, Willem didn't have to do this but the fact that he did was like telling us - "hey I'm not just here for money or research, I really wan't to help you guys learn".

I think it's great when staff and students feel comfortable enough that they will approach one another about anything, it makes learning more fun and criticism easier to take.

computer programming teachers (1)

ziplux (261840) | more than 13 years ago | (#492829)

At my high school, my CAD teacher and the programming teachers have no idea what they're teaching. They don't know the subject and when they don't know an answer, they BS so it won't look like they don't know anything. At least we have a knowledgable sysadmin.

Finding good teachers in CS (1)

flynn_nrg (266463) | more than 13 years ago | (#492832)

In my first year at university I had lessons with this really crap dude who told me I seemed to disliked programming (I had been coding on the Amiga for 5 years and love programming), on the other hand, in my second year I met a really good OS teacher, that guy got me hooked on Unix, and is partially the reason why I'm running these BSD boxes now. Unfortunately, at least in Spain, it seems really hard to find good teachers in CS, which is a real shame, because a lot of people ends their career whithout a clue of what CS is about, tho most geeks find our way by ourselves.

It was Hellmouth with an Abba soundtrack (1)

Ms Marple (300383) | more than 13 years ago | (#492833)

Being at a convent school in Oz in the mid-70's meant that I didn't do any tech subject at all.

The nuns forced us to take compulsory classes in dish-washing/ironing etc..

I got to 6th form college and work experience cropped-up. We were told we had a choice between teaching and nursing.

I really, really HATED school, and to this day would not spit on a burning nun.

But I had a Math teacher, Miss Stanford, who one day announced that she was veering from the curriculum and that we would learn something she felt could be important to us in the future. She managed to speed us through our proscribed Math so quickly that she had a whole 3 lessons spare in which she taught us some Fortran. She also spent extra time drumming in binary/hex etc..

Nonetheless, I was guided by the nuns into high units of Art and English, which I also liked and was good at, but I lost my faith in the education system along the way and did not take up a place at University.

I wasted 10 years after high school working in various *creative* media jobs (no degree required in those days) before I got a commercial programming job. I taught-myself code using small cheap consoles hooked up to my TV, got on a training course then got an *apprenticeship* in a small software house and for the last ten years haven't contemplated doing anything else.

One of the 8% of women programmers in the UK.

none (1)

mattsmigs (302544) | more than 13 years ago | (#492834)

none of my teachers have been any good so far; it's perhaps a good thing I still have a while to get some. The IT teachers have no idea, and have barely heard of Linux. The computers in the school are about as good as the one I have (read:crap) and have some of the worst software you can imagine. Smigs

Scared of math? (1)

Polo_Pony_Guy (307113) | more than 13 years ago | (#492836)

"to those students who could handle it"

Sorry to tell you this, but math is one of the easiest subjects you'll find. Those students who "can't" do it merely have pyschological problems with it , possibly because of bad experiences with it previously.

Math is too hyped up and dubbed as "tough subject" by popular culture. In reality, only a small percentage of students should be struggling with it, because, it is NOT a difficult subject. It's 95% approach to the subject and 5% " mathematical intelligence".

Sorry to dissapoint those of you who worship math as some sort of all-powerful skill, but it is not. Try polo pony pyschology if you want a challenging subject.

For the record, after being told I would never do well in math by my secondary school teachers and early high school teachers, I ended up with a "A" in my math final. Besides the fact that I found it total boring shit, it's actually quite easy and if students who "struggle" with it just wake up and realize how reptitive and easy it is, they would probably do a lot better than sitting there saying: "Oh wow, this is so hard...I guess I'm not a math person."

Re:Scared of math? (1)

Polo_Pony_Guy (307113) | more than 13 years ago | (#492837)

I never claimed that all math was easy, I just stated that it's not the god-like task that a lot of people claim it is. I'm sure there is math that I would find hard, but I wouldn't just give up and say : "Oh well, this math is way beyond me and I'll leave it to the math gods to do ..."

Laszlo Rules! (1)

dthirteen (307585) | more than 13 years ago | (#492839)

Everyone should go to Cal Poly Pomona just to take a programming class from Laszlo.

Some kids hated him, because he wouldn't write their programs for them... Some profs at cal poly think computer science is a typing class, others think you have to write 4000 lines to demonstrate that you understand data structures...

Laszlo's lectures were relevant without writing the code for you, and those with half a brain did well and love him!

Those who thought outside the box... (1)

decaffed (307586) | more than 13 years ago | (#492840)

The teachers that inspired me was my high school math and physics teacher that showed me that there were other things in life than sports and girls. He gave personal assignments to everybody, I got to work on the physics of a fast ball or a long jump, which was in my interest sphere and thus made everything so much more interesting. He is the one I would like to thank for my Master's degree in Computer Science today.

My history teacher that made us live the French revolution and always found parallells in history to current world event. Event where we made have succeded better if we had learned something from history.

My religion teacher that asked everybody what they believed in and then tried to find parts in all religions that fit together with our beliefs. He was very religious, christian, but never ever let that interfere with teaching us about all religions without prejudices. In short, those who listened, adjusted, found the weak spots and trained them, let us explore our strengths ourself just gicing pointers, those that knew there respective subjects very well, those that took the time to know the pupils. Those inspired me.

Best != Taught Me the Most (1)

shorti9 (307602) | more than 13 years ago | (#492841)

My Best Teacher was Mr. Velasquez, hands down. In 5th grade he took the smartest kid in the class, the guy that knew everything, and showed him just how little he really knew. From that point on, I've always known that somewhere out there, there's somebody that knows a helluva lot more than me. Humility is a wonderful trait to have.

The teacher that taught me the most was Mr. Herrington. The guy was a bastard, very set in his ways, very big on having power -- HS Calc teacher that ran the department. Apparently nobody ever bothered to teach him the lesson above. But he did force me to learn how to sit back, shut up, and do things somebody else's way. Which has served me wonderfully in the working world.

Oh, and Mr. Curry, my AP Physics teacher -- when you don't know the answer, don't be afraid to BS around for a bit before giving up. That BS counts for something!

Can't say that i have... (1)

Kewjoe (307612) | more than 13 years ago | (#492842)

Now don't get me wrong I've had "nice" teachers. I enjoyed going to their class.. But my two favourite were in high school, they were my Law teacher and Accounting teacher. But that was just because they were fun teachers and you had fun when you were learning (what a concept). The computer teachers in my school sucked. One of them actually discourged me from programming when i was 15 (im 21 now, and i know better =P) I like to call him the Code Nazi.. anyway.. im in my 3rd year of university and i have yet to find someone who challenges or pushes me in anyway. But it gets harder and harder to find one because of the enormous class sizes now. I do realize there is after class.. but i mean they set their office hours and when you get there, usually there is 100 students waiting to ask questions. Ah well, i think teachers and professors are really important, and life through school gets tough when it seems like they don't care..

My best teachers (1)

wcmcalister (307629) | more than 13 years ago | (#492843)

Ms. Shaffner, who taught me my first programming classes in high school fro '79 to '81. I don't know where I'ld be without her.

Mr. Aldo Borgia, who taught me to LOVE mathematics (and a fair amount of trig). His passion for the subject really showed through and made math come alive.

Mr. Fobear, who taught me the greatest lesson you can teach to a smartass, know-it-all, pseudo-intellectual with delusions of grandeur. He taught me that "There are more geniuses in the gutter than on Wall Street". How true it is...

Thanks guys. I owe ya.

You can tell a lot about a person by their Sig. It's a

Favorite Teachers (1)

sarrett (307639) | more than 13 years ago | (#492844)

One of my favorite teachers was my high school senior English teacher Mr. Brunetti. While this was obviously a not technically oriented class :-), his love and enthusiasm for his subject made it a fun experience. In fact, he one time assigned a 3000 word essay on Hamlet. We were so determined to impress him we were turing in thesis. One person turned in 21 hand written pages. I turned in 18 if I recall correctly. When he returned the papers he thanked us for our hard work but asked that we please keep around the length assigned. (After all, that poor man had to READ all that stuff we wrote :-))

Mr Barrett (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#492854)

Mr Barrett was an Englishman who taught at a private Quaker school on the Main Line outside of Philadelphia. Though his armpits were perennially damp, he maintained the illusion that his knowledge was bottomless. He was a good communicator, and he held interest for his students, but perhaps a teacher should be solely judged on his/her ability to motivate a student.

I claim to be a genius no more than a fool; how often the two seem correlated. It was an AP class (a college credit should we pass the AP test) and computer classes always interested, but never challenged, me. As I know from my own teaching, the toughest challenge to manage in the classroom is how to keep the slow learners with the program without boring those that excel. That tightrope is managed by many factors including people skills, subject material, class size, sweat; I think you will agree that Mr. Barrett did it in more ways than one.

Particularly I recall a programming assignment where we were to solve quadratic equations by plug in in the numbers and doing the math. Quadratic equations, the intrepid reader will recall, have the form of aX(squared) + bX + c = 0. In ancient times it was recognized that such an equation can be solved with the quadratic equation where X = -b + or - the square root of (b squared - 4ac) all over 2a. I note that it was quite fortunate for Einstein that e is not equal to mc cubed!

Computers can solve such equations easily, and you can find such programs on the web. Assuming the answer is not irrational (negative numbers have no square roots) the answers (there are two due to the plus or minus) are output as useless decimals, not the simplified equations that we learned to calculate in Algebra class.

I decided that my program would solve it the way we did it in Algebra class.

Suffice it to say that I ate and slept little that week. There was a quite tricky bit of math that I figured out that made it all look easy, and the program's output was six frames showing the equation's simplification and solution. I handed in the assignment on Friday without a word and eagerly awaited Monday. Before class on Monday, I asked him his opinion, and he, naturally enough, said he'd like to speak with me after class. After class, naturally enough, he asked me if I could explain, on the board, that tricky bit of math that made it all look simple. I made a stab at it, and missed. I tried again, not quite. Mr. Barrett started looking at me, over his glasses, and he was not the only one sweating. I got it, I showed him, it all added up, but I don't know what expression I should have worn on my face to convince him that I wrote that program.

A big part of motivation is making the student feel that they are making progress, and that their time is not wasted. My integrity was challenged that day, and though I knew I was integral, I recall few greater insults. Nor do I remember greater compliments - the program was so good, there was no way I could have written it. I credit Mr. Barrett not for his judgment of character, but for his judgment of programs, and for motivating me beyond my means.

Mark Johnson.

Drama Teachers Rock. (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#492855)

My drama teacher in Highschool was, by far, the best teacher I've ever had. We all refered to her as "mom" because, that's essentially what she was to us. She respected us as equals, and belived in every single one of us. To this very day, I'm amazed at some of the productions we managed to do there, and did well. I'll always miss her. Unfortunatly, we lost her this last november to Cancer. Mom Adams, We all miss you.


dsfox (2694) | more than 13 years ago | (#492860)

You don't have to just wait for a good teacher. Find out who they are and put yourself in their class! Bend the rules if you have to, get your parents to help if you're in grade school!

Mr. Saunders (2)

Kyobu (12511) | more than 13 years ago | (#492864)

My best teacher ever was Bruce Saunders, whom I had for history in 7th and 8th grades. I went to this middle school with a quasi-magnet program for highly gifted kids, called the IHP, so part of the experience was being surrounded by other smart people. Anyway, Saunders challenged us and talked to us like adults. I was a math-and-science nerd before then, which I know is what people here think of as being a real nerd. After his class, although I still am a nerd in that way, I'm more interested in history and politics. Saunders was the only teacher I ever had who totally changed my focus in that way.

DERF! (2)

KFury (19522) | more than 13 years ago | (#492867)

Unquestionably, my best teacher was Fred Carrington, Physics teacher at Ulysses S. Grant High School, in Van Nuys, California.

A Music Studies major, with a Physics minor, Derf got his teaching credential back when they gave blanket credentials to teach any subject. Teaching Physics, Derf's primary motivations were to make learning fun, and to make Physics intuitive.

Thanks to Derf, I can still derive kinematic laws, EM equasions for magnetic flux insolonoids, even Lorentz Transformations, solely by remembering how physics (even special relativity) work intuitively, then deriving the math from there.

Derf was responsible for my getting a double 5 on the Physics BC AP test in 11th grade, and was more interested in the lives of his students than any other teacher I've known. From sponsoring, organizing, and leading the Backpacking Club (even when it cost him a finger!!) to the Physics Olympiad, the Paper Airplane Contest, Egg Drops, April Fools stunts (did anyone ever get the tire over the flagpole?), and all the rest, Derf is a benchmark by which all other teachers are measured.

Now that I find myself a TA/tutor for a graduate course, I'm looking back to the lessons Drf taught me, not just in Physics, but in learning.

I salute you, Derf, for all that you've done for so many people, and I thank you.

Sincerely, and with utmost gratitude,

Kevin Fox

Dear Mr. Kendall (2)

dmorin (25609) | more than 13 years ago | (#492869)

I warred with my high school computer teacher. I was one of the few kids coming into high school that had a machine (TRS-80, baby!) and knew how to code it, and already had a reputation as king geek. There was nothing this guy could teach me! I knew EVERYTHING!

Hardly. I learned alot from this guy, even though I didn't know I was doing it. Recursion, data structures, modular programming, all the foundations for what real coding is like. Sure, the stuff that he put into the curriculum to talk about for 4 days I picked up in 4 minutes (like any good geek would), but the fact is that I did learn things. He even knew when and where to strike the balance -- we (there were about 3 of us) only had to go to his class when he was starting a new subject. Other times we got to hang out in the lab. And he would great our assignments differently, to put more challenge in them. "Make a program that draws a birthday cake", for example, was intended to just be a bunch of println("****")s together (come on, this was 1985). I made one out of block graphics (remember what happened when you went after char(x) where x>127?) and made the lights animate. Or the time we had to write Conway's Life, so I made a 3d version. And a favorite, when a test question said "Write a sort routine, any sort routine" I wrote a recursive bubble sort :).

Some favorite moments from class:

  • "Mr. Morin, perhaps if Miss Baldasini turned around and listened to me for a change she would understand what's going on."
    "She just told me she's not learning shit from you, that's why I'm explaining it."
  • "Mr. Morin, you are not my friend. You are not invited to my wedding."
    "Can I come to your funeral when you die?"
  • "Get out, Mr. Morin. Get out, get out, GET OUT!" (That'd be when I pulled a knife on another student as a joke, and Mr. Kendall didn't find it very funny.)
Yup, I was a shit. I've often thought of going back to visit him and telling him how much he is to blame for what I am today (be it for good or bad :))!

Worst lecturer, Best tuteror (2)

bug_hunter (32923) | more than 13 years ago | (#492870)

Worst lecturer I've had:
Was quite competant but,
Told us how if our half year group project was handed up 1 minute late we get 0 and fail the subject (and therfore have to repeat another year).

He then told us the story of a student who'd worked on the project for a few all nighters and crashed his car out of tiredness while trying to drive it in before due date. Then he laughed and he was friggin serious.

Students put the guys pic on "am I hot or not". He got a 3.

Best tutor:
Was absolute computer nut, would help with absolutely anything to the point of actually checking your program's generated assembly code looking for weird errors. Would spend ages helping you (but without doing it for you) so you actually learnt something.

And now that I've left uni I've come to realise I hated every single lecturor/tutorer at Adelaide uni except for David Knight (tutorer in question).

Here's to you David :)

Nice security plan (2)

bug_hunter (32923) | more than 13 years ago | (#492871)

I like how their security plan was simply tell people off who went into the dos shell. My friend once got banned for playing around with network drives, not doing anything bad, just showing how easily it can be done.

Granted there was a heck of a lot of stuff in IT exam that was never in classes, the worse part was when the exam asked me what does "this" algorithm do, and I pointed out where the algorithm crashes's, which they obviously didn't appreciate.

But atleast I was never told that a mouse is a GUI :)

Teaching how to think (2)

cowboy junkie (35926) | more than 13 years ago | (#492872)

My high school AP physics teacher told us on the first day that for his class, the physics was secondary to learning how to problem-solve - to think through any challenge we would encounter in life.

He was an excellent teacher for two reasons - he had an unsurpassed enthusiasm both for physics and for teaching. And that's the crucial combination...

He also had a sweet remote-controlled random 'student selector' on his Apple II so no one could ever feel that he picked on them. Heh.

Best ones had nothing to do with computers (2)

devphil (51341) | more than 13 years ago | (#492875)

The two high-school teachers who influenced me the most were my Honors History and Honors Lit teachers. My math teacher was another major positive influence.

You want "negative reinforcement" when you do something wrong? Forget the usual high school crap. When you feel bad because your teacher is disappointed in you, that's when you know you've got a good teacher. (Amazingly like parents in that respect...)

The most influential teacher in college was a CS prof who left to go into the seminary and become a minister.

best professor for a physics major... (2)

MustardMan (52102) | more than 13 years ago | (#492876)

My best professor by far is Dr Gilmore at my university. He is a prof. whose genuis and grasp of the elegance and beauty of physics dwarfs any physicist I have ever met. Apart from taking a class with on of the legendary greats, I cannot imagine possibly getting more out of a class than with Dr. Gilmore. I am currently taking a nonlinear dynamics class from him and it is absolutely fascinating. It probably helps that he's literally the man who wrote the de-facto standard book on catastrophe theory.

amazed at lack of good college stories. (2)

ndfa (71139) | more than 13 years ago | (#492879)

So i will post a little note about my experience. I had my computer science education at a liberal art school. The professors i had were not the best code writers arround and one admitted to being pretty behind on technology. He was more of a theory person, and well thats the way he enjoyed working. Well anyway, after taking an intro course with him you felt for a bit that "hey this guy does not know all that much". THEN you walk into his algorithm class, or his theory of computation (think finite machines etc) and you were just blown away by how exciting he made things.... I mean some of the algo's you read about left you light headed for a few hours (hell the Y-Combinator still amazes me).

A LOT OF TIMES (maybe not always) profs dont get the credit they are due cause we think they are working us to hard or that the skills we are missing out (hands on java/IT issues etc) are more important.... bull crap! and he knew how important a solid background in math/theory was, and patiently got us at the same position.

i think any prof. who wants to be a prof and loves to teach has to be given full credit...teaching a bunch of crazy college ppl can be a bit annoying would'nt you think...... so here is a slight quote (which i might be getting a bit wrong)
When i came to college, I thought i had all the right answers..... after 4 years of learning, i am just beginning to ask the right questions

Re:Scared of math? (2)

orangesquid (79734) | more than 13 years ago | (#492880)

This is one reaons why I'm very proud of my calc teacher, Ms. Coté; She almost always finds a way of explaining a concept the right way so even the least mathematically-inclined in the class understand it. She has a very good approach, and not only that, but she's an extremely dedicated teacher: after a test, she spends *all* of her free time grading the test, and usually has the tests completely finished in just a day or two -- for all her 100+ students!

Not only that, but she also stays after school for private tutoring for any student who is still struggling and wants extra help, even on days where it would be inconvenient for her...

Her simple love for teaching is one of the few reasons I actually started doing my homework regularly for that class :)

Re:Teachers... (2)

Enonu (129798) | more than 13 years ago | (#492887)

I actually didn't enjoy my assembly class that much. My professor's grading style was similar to yours, i.e. size matters, thus everybody, including myself, spent way too much time on their programs. Twenty hours of outside class time for a three hour class isn't acceptable. Yes, I got that A, but was it worth it??? I'll never go back to assembly again. People who enjoy trying to tweak their program for 2 less instructions are insane.

"Just you and I" (2)

Pflipp (130638) | more than 13 years ago | (#492888)

I tought myself most stuff. The teachers I had on my previous school didn't really teach me all that much interesting, really (gym -- yuck). The teachers I have now are supposed to teach me informatica, but well...

So I learnt most stuff myself. That doesn't mean I didn't have teachers, because I read an awful lot of documentation and stuff to get there. So more or less, I am the one to decide what I want to know and to keep myself involved, and, well, just anybody out there is my teacher. From that perspective, viva open source! ;-)

It's... It's...

Prof. Couch at Tufts (2)

kisrael (134664) | more than 13 years ago | (#492890)

Anyone who took comp sci at Tufts University and got serious about it during college probably owes it to Professor Alva Couch. The guy was an amazing font of enthusiasm, giggling and jumping at the front of the class... probably a typical friendly old school geek/hacker in that regard. (He also had more than his fair share of non-computer related hobbies, photography, tandem-bicycling, I think some low woodwind or other...)

He had an interesting way of running the class known as the "weedout" class for comp sci at Tufts, as well as some of the other less theoretical higher level classes. There were 4 or 5 big programming per semester. He'd pass out the assignment. 9/10 of the class would blow it off because it wasn't due for another few weeks but 2 or 3 of the hardcore students would tear right into it. Those students got personal attention, and really ended up collaborating with him to find good solutions... the problems were setup so usually he didn't have preconceived notions of what the best solution was going to look like. He would then disseminate the techniques discovered with those students to the rest of the class... nothing was more irritating than some punk getting equal results to you starting two days before the assignment was due, just by implementing the technique you invented, so the elites had to press on to even better independent tweaks and methods.

You can see his old-school homepage here []


I've had three... (2)

allanj (151784) | more than 13 years ago | (#492892)

I had a physics teacher in high school who could explain any and all facets of physics to anyone who was moderately interested, and who would explain whatever part of physics you ever inquired about, in or out of class. He was the kind of guy who could make physics seem like the most exciting thing on Earth, and his classes (including mine :-) were always in top 10 gradewise in my country.

In computer school I had a teacher who taught us the fundamentals of algorithm design, algorithm analysis and optimization, data structure design principles and stuff like that - basic computer science. He could to it in a way that made it perfectly obvious to almost everybody how things worked. He just knew how to explain things, I guess. You could ask him anything about computer science you liked, and he'd find you an answer. Great guy.

For a couple of months, our regular professor in mathematical analysis (a regular Mr. Boring) was hospitalized. During that period, some other guy from the math department took over, and we were swept away by his passion for math, and his ability to explain even the trickier parts of proofs with simple drawings, analogies and just plain good explanations. For two short months, math was very exciting, fun and downright entertaining.

The latter guy is probably the most awesome of the three - I mean, I liked *math*. I've always liked physics and computer science, and math was just a necessary evil to support the two. But for two months, I really enjoyed learning math...

Teachers and technology (2)

Glowing Fish (155236) | more than 13 years ago | (#492893)

For some reason, and this may just be me, when I think of a great teacher and what they teach, technology is not high on the list. Like many /. readers, my education in technology didn't come at came at work (Stream :::shudders:::). But that is probably not the reason I don't equate a great teacher with teaching about technology.

I think this is because I equate technology more with experiencing things and practicing on my own, as well as discusions with people of my own age. And part of the process of learning about technology is creating your own. On the other hand, when I think about a great teacher, I think about someone who is teaching me "timeless wisdom" and things that are etched in stone. I would definitly think the best teacher is one that is in a hierarchal relationship with me, while I have always thought that learning about technology is more of a matter of equality.

Does any of this make sense? Am I totally off-topic and off-base?

Re:amazed at lack of good college stories. (2)

gilroy (155262) | more than 13 years ago | (#492894)

I'm actually not all that amazed at the lack of college stories. There are several reasons: In college, you take more responsibility for your own learning and you usually spend as much energy on socialization and networking as on pure academic stuff.

Most of all, most colleges are way behind the curve on understanding how and why people learn. More so than any other educational institution, university exists primarily to reproduce itself and thus -- through hiring and tenure decisions -- professors tend to pick people like themselves. This sort of inbreeding runs directly contrary to the iconoclastic tendencies seemingly vital for a good teacher.

Disclaimer: I am a high school teacher, so my view of college profs might be biased. :)

My best teacher... (2)

rich22 (156003) | more than 13 years ago | (#492895)

A middle school instructor, Mrs. Groos, taught my class to think creatively and apply the results. Sure, she let us play Civ on the 286's (which taught me more geography, politics, and history than any schooling I'd ever had), but the class had little to do with technology. She preached the principles of logic and encouraged us to use all of our available facilities to solve problems. No solution was rejected before being reviewed. Nothing was too obscure as long as it was effective and efficient. Often we were placed into groups for completing tasks. We had to use social skills to get anything accomplished. Looking back, Mrs. Groos was preparing us for both higher education and the working world. Solutions to real problems don't come in multiple choice format. Most projects are handled in teams, and often there are competing ideas to contend with. I gained valuable experience at an early age on dealing with co-workers. Problem solving skills, creativity, and team collaboration are the some of the most important things in programming. Or tech support. Or design. Or management. Mrs. Groos sharpened the tools needed in the real world - and did so with encouragement and direction that deserves the utmost praise.

For Mr. Thoman (2)

jest6r (156293) | more than 13 years ago | (#492896)

Some teachers model our lives. Others shape our minds. Then there is the rare individual that doesn't do either. They just show that beyond what you know, beyond what you think everyone else knows---there is free thinking to be done. He was my high school Physics teacher. Not only did he realize that physics was about the physical universe, he instilled that all life is a search for knowledge. He wasn't the normal teacher. He didn't just grade tests and homework. He wanted you to see that beyond you home, your city, your MIND, there were things that needed research. Deep Thought. Not all questions were answered where they? Is it a computer program that draws your attention, or astronomy? He cared less about what you wanted to learn, as long as the desire to seek what was unknown was instilled. For me he was the origanal guy to say "think outside the box." This is something that I will forever cherish and hope that all young people shall grow up cherishing. If only there was a way to box and share what a teacher like this can do. All the world would be better. "Wow thats how they figure acceleration?"--Me 1996

Teachers in India .... (2)

Orome (159034) | more than 13 years ago | (#492897)

Teacher's in India are mostly those people who can't find other work and resort to teaching as a last alternative. Considering that teacher's here are paid less than 150$ (5000 Rupees) in most places a month there's no doubt why. I was lucky enough to go to a private school and even there there were some teacher's who were lousy. But there were a lot of good ones. If I had to pick one it would be my 10th grade Mathematics Teacher (and also the school Vice Principal) Mr. Kapadia who left school 2 years back. I really can't pick out why everyone liked him so much ... he was impartial, funny, handsome, intelligent, dedicated. The biggest thing that stood out from him was that he was highly qualified himself. He chose this profession because he wanted to and not because he was forced to. I remember that in the 5 years he was in school ... he missed only one day. He'd be willing to teach after the school hours as well. Now he's in Pittsburgh doing a PhD on something related to black holes.

Dr. Holmes (2)

Blackheart2 (161473) | more than 13 years ago | (#492898)

I was fortunate enough to go to a school with many great teachers, but one of my favorites was Dr. Holmes, who taught English. He was one of the few teachers at my school who actually had a Ph.D. To look at him, you would not think he was very likeable. He always wore a suit and a vest, and occasionally a stern expression as well. But in fact he was not stuffy at all, but quite congenial, and I think he was one of the best-loved teachers at the school.

I think English is one of those topics which many students feel is extremely wishy-washy, that for example you can make an argument for whatever thesis you feel like supporting that day. Dr. Holmes showed me, at least, that that was false. Whenever he asked the class to interpret a passage in a book or a verse of poetry, and somebody came out with some outlandish and abstract perspective, Holmes would ask him to support that with specific evidence from the text. When that student tried to answer again, sure enough, his interpretation would usually end up unconvincing, and Dr. Holmes could always point out specific and convincing evidence for his own conclusions.

I was always good in English, but I also had this wishy-washy perspective on the subject before I took Holmes' class. But not afterwards. I think this was the first time I really learned that critical thinking and reasoning is something that transcends formal systems like mathematics and programming.

One thing I remember specifically which he said, and which surprised me at the time, was that students should major either in physics or philosophy, because these are the only two curricula at the undergraduate level which build critical reasoning skills. His perspective was that the undergraduate education is too short to study anything in depth, and so it should be considered as only a primer for graduate-level studies, which is when you should start specializing.

His advice had a great effect on me. I had planned to major in computer science, but when I got to college I couldn't bring myself to do it, and chose physics instead. Unfortunately, I only pursued it for two years, and then switched to CS in the end anyway, but I did benefit from it, because I caught a glimpse of how theory and practice can be made to work together harmoniously, and how they inform each other.

Now I am back in school, getting a Ph.D. in CS, and I can really appreciate what Dr. Holmes said. I think he was right about undergraduate education: it is too short to waste on studying specifics. The best way to spend your undergraduate years is to study a field which gives you a broad and solid grounding in fundamental reasoning skills. Physics and philosophy satisfy that condition, and I would also add mathematics. But CS is too specific and biased.

Anyway, I am grateful for the opportunity to share this story with ./ readers. Maybe someone else reading this will know the Dr. Holmes I am talking about? :)

Thanks, Dr. Holmes!

For Drs Katz and Steinberg and Mr. Bob Ross (2)

Cannonball (168099) | more than 13 years ago | (#492899)

There are three teachers I've had that have knocked my socks off, taught me things that I'd not known possible some years before, and brought me closer to the pursuit of Knowledge.

Bob Ross, teacher of American Studies at Davis Senior High School, was able to give us a clear view into the past not by lecturing endlessly, but instead by forcing us to discuss the past through the lens of the present. His tests would leave students shuddering, but his grading was fair. You knew he read all your papers all the way through, mostly because he wrote a response to every one. Thank you for inspiring an interest in local politics.

Dr Andy Katz and Dr. Jules Steinberg served as my mentors and teachers in the Political Science Department at Denison University. They are two of the wisest, most fascinating men I've ever met. Their styles, different and unique, they often taught in classrooms where the apathetic and the bored stayed away, for fear they might be called upon and have to defer. Each made relationships with all their students, knowing them all by name, knowing where they were from and what they did in their spare time, they could make even the most abstract concept (postmodern deconstructionism) seem straightforward and clear. Thank you gentlemen for giving me the ability to read cogently, to form thoughts intelligently, and be responsible for my own opinions and thoughts.

Re:I've had three... (2)

Technician (215283) | more than 13 years ago | (#492905)

My High School Physics and Chem teachers were the best. They would do stuff that got your attention. The best demonstrations are the ones where you think you know what happens next only to be shown otherwise. We learned to expect the unexpected. One instance comes to mind was playing with very cold tempratures. You know the usual, dip roses, balloons etc. and smash with a hammer and pound nails with hot dog. To add some learning, the suprise was they used oxygen instead of nitrogen.(search for the web site on lighting a BBQ with liquid oxygen for a large scale demo of the same experiment) A lit cigarette was spectacular but expected. However a stamp size piece of notepaper was the big suprise. Soaking it and dropping on the counter did nothing unusual, but tapping it with a hammer was very impressive. We not only learned about cryo physics, but was introduced to the diesel engine physics. The paper went off like a firecracker!

My submission (2)

Calle Ballz (238584) | more than 13 years ago | (#492906)

The best teacher that I had would probably be my 6th grade elementary school teacher. I was a very secluded kid. I didn't care about anything, including school. This teacher immediately noticed that and did whatever she could to help me out. She actually cared about her students and what they learned. She would also make subjects like history come alive in the way she would tell stories of things like the same damn boring story of columbus or whatever. The majority of the students didn't realize they were being taught the same thing over and over and over each year, but I did and i hated it. I couldn't stand having to put up with that crap and this teacher noticed and would let me do other things instead of doing "practice exercises" with the rest of the class. I really enjoyed what she did for me, and her impact lasted a few years until I reached highschool, where i stopped caring again, but there were no teachers there to re-spark my interest in school so I dropped out. Now i'm working for the government making 5x than the average of what the rest of my class is making now.

Deviant tendencies (2)

clay pigeon (302313) | more than 13 years ago | (#492907)

My most influential teacher would completely deviate from district's standard lesson plan. He'd bombard us with stories from his travels and cool facts from literary sources we would never have been exposed to. He stressed vocabulary that still impresses to this date and taught advanced math to those students who could handle it. He engaged the students in examples and kept the class fun. And can you guess who got the axe when it was decided that one teacher had to be let go? I suppose the administration didn't like his approach, but he sure inspired me. Thanks for goin' the extra mile Mr. M!

My Best Teachers (3)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#492908)

There are two great teachers that stick out for me. Most importantly was my 10th Grade history teacher in high school. He wasn't the friendliest person to everyone in class, and lots of people hated him, but those that hated him didn't try in class, which is why he didn't care what they thought. If you tried, and cared about class, he was a wonderful person. He also taught economics and instead of making me sit thru a class he knew I would have to take in college again, he let me write a paper on how the internet will change the economy, which he felt was more important than doing a scantron test on vocabulary questions. He also helped me outside of school with a problem when he didn't have to, but even without that, he was the best teacher in high school, bar none.

In college, the teacher that has been best was my freshman english teacher. He would be frustrated by my occational sleeping in his class (long nights of work combined with 8 AM Calc made me sleepy in there), but I did the work better than anyone, and challenged people in class when they tried to make a statement, but didn't have anything to back it up. We had a journal we had to do every term that, honestly, was totally pointless. I told him this, he understood how for some people, it was a total waste of time. He let me out of doing it for the year as long as I just went to talk to him about how they could improve the class (it was the first year of it, same students and teacher for a whole year) when I felt I needed to talk. That was what college teachers were supposed to be like, understanding to the fact that not every student is the same and ideas need to be challenged.

There are other teachers I'm missing, like my math teacher in 7th and 8th grade, and my CS professor who would invite me over to drink beer and smoke pot (ah, good old college stories), and many others, but those two were the best since they cared about you as long as you cared about what they thought and you would adjust to fit each other. If more teachers would realize that every student isn't the same, it would be a better educational system in this country.

Books... (3)

tjansen (2845) | more than 13 years ago | (#492909)

My best teachers have always been books. They are there when you need them, usually you have several to chose from and when you dont like a book you can easily take another one. Unlike school/university, you can decide what you want to learn. Two hours reading Richard Stevens books can teach you more than any teacher could, especially if you are in a crowded class.

it's not what you do, but what you get out of doin (3)

Saint Nobody (21391) | more than 13 years ago | (#492911)

i only ever had one teacher that truly understood that: Tony McCann, 12th grade english. yes, an english teacher, even though i'm very much a technical person. I never really liked english class that much until i had him, since he was the first person to treat it like more than the prescribed curriculum. he gave us assignments, but no assignment was outright required, or had rigid requirements. He graded us on what he thought of what he thought we were learning, not on some objetive-esqe evaluation of trite questions about the same "classics" that people have been reading in school for decades.

He gave us a day off on the first day after the leaves started falling so we could appreciate its beauty, and again when things bloomed in spring. that, in itself, might seem stupid, but he was also teaching us to recognize the beauty we see everyday.

he didn't just teach us a curriculum. he taught us something much more valuable than memories of having read and overanalyzed a John Steinbeck book. He taught us to think about all these things for ourselves. He worked in the fringes of the system and showed us that we don't need to stick to the prescribed curriculum of life.

I would often (more like virtually always...) stay after class just chatting with him because he was such an open, accessible person, with no pretenses. He did not look on us as students, but as people.

When i got my Eagle Scout award the following summer, i invited him to speak, since i have rarely respected anyone as much as i respected him. I will never forget him or the lessons he taught me.

I take offense to this (3)

PacketMaster (65250) | more than 13 years ago | (#492912)

I don't know where you go/went to high school but I thought most of my high school teachers (I'm a college grad now) were actually pretty good. Sure there were some of the burned-out ones who'd been there too long, but for the most part they were all very knowledgable and personalable individuals.

My father is a primary school teacher and thus I've known an entire school of teachers from the time I was small and again, none of them are losers or morons.

As for the lack of competition, you obviously know nothing about that which you speak of. Getting a job in a school district is incredibly difficult because of such a low turn-over rate. Many new grads spend YEARS as per diem substitutes before they can move into the "year-long substitute" position for a teacher who's ill or on sabatical. Sure teachers don't make as much money as a tech worker or business executive, but they chose what to go into and knew the salary and job market when then entered it. They also have a three month vacation in which to do other things to make money. My parents raised three children on one teacher's salary. My father did different things in the summer to make additional money from computer lessons (back in the TI-99 and Atari days) to landscaping work.

Most teachers really love their job and it's the few students nowadays that really want to learn and recognize the value of their teachers that really make the teacher's jobs worthwhile.

My favorite high school teacher, among many that I liked, was Mr. Altmire. He was one of the english, rhetoric and writing teachers. He was also the debate team coach. He made class a lot of fun, but at the end after all the fun you really thought "wow, did I really get a lot out of that class."

It's not just the teachers that make your high school experience, it's also what you make out of it. It's up to YOU to decide to give it your all and to participate, etc.. and then you'll succeed. If you don't learn that in high school when the goings easier, you're in for a rude shock in college or the work force.

I have a story about my worst.... (3)

Xenex (97062) | more than 13 years ago | (#492913)

Final year high school subject (though I still had a year to go, I did the subject early).

The subject's name: Information Processing and Management (IM&M)

A week before the exam, and we are being taught for the 1st time the stuff that will be on the exam (we wasted the year playing with Excel and Access)

Sitting in a group, giving us a quick rundown on things.

We reach the mouse.

My teacher pipes up:
A mouse... Well, a mouse is a GUI.

I, and a few others, were dumbfounded. We didn't even TRY to fix that. No, she didn't confuse it for being a way to interface with a GUI, the mouse IS the GUI.

Thank god I got out of that class alive...

(The other 'bad thing' that springs to mind was using NT's command prompt to ping to see if the network was up and copping it for 'accessing DOS'...)

Anyway, time to supress these memories again...

Teacher who knew he knew nothing. (3)

FTL (112112) | more than 13 years ago | (#492914)

The best teacher I've ever had was a highschool computer science teacher who discovered after the first class that his students knew far more about the subject than he did. So instead of blindly plowing through the course (the way all the other teachers had), he told us to build/code something cool by the end of the year. Then he stepped out of the way.

I've never seen students work so hard in my life. By the end of the year we'd designed built robots, a sound card, a TV capture card, a digital flute, at least one operating system, and more software than I can count.

Never underestimate the power of letting a knowledgable class forge for themselves. The results can be spectacular.

The best teacher I ever had. (3)

ClayJar (126217) | more than 13 years ago | (#492915)

The best teacher I ever had was Mr. Arsenault. It would be hard to tell you everything about him, so I'll just say that his sense of humor (including quite a dry wit) and acceptance of students was phenomenal. One example for you:

He would never get mad, and he played the quintessential straight man (the Abbot of Abbot and Costello, but with a much more intelligent air). One day, one of his senior classes locked him out of his classroom. While most other teachers I've had would have marched straight to the office, he marched straight to the edge of campus to the maintenance sheds and got an extension ladder (his room was on the second floor). He then proceeded to climb up the ladder and through his classroom window; then he walked up to the chalkboard and without even cracking a smile (a major feat while pulling off an act like this), he picked up the chalk and began teaching as if nothng at all was out of the ordinary.

People told that story for years, and it was only one of a bunch. He understood what you had to do if you wanted to get people to learn, and he'd do it. He'd help anybody that needed it. He taught me geometry in 9th grade while I was also taking algebra, and in the same class (of two), he taught a senior (I hope she's done well in life; she was quite slow).

Oh, and since it doesn't take the whole hour to teach geometry if you only have two students, he'd let her work on her homework so he could help her with any problems, and we'd play chess the rest of the hour... he won the year, but I actually won one more game than he did. (That's the problem with playing matches and sets.) :)

Anyway, there you go. (My second best teacher has much less a sense of humor, but he used to take classes on camping trips... you haven't lived until you've played our variant of capture-the-flag/chase on a raining, moonless night in Louisiana backwoods.)

Teachers... (4)

pb (1020) | more than 13 years ago | (#492918)

My best teachers always challenged me, and made the challenges either fun, or interesting.

I had a teacher for Assembler who, for the last project, told us that he was going to grade it only on (a) if it works correctly (80 points) and (b) our count of instructions executed relative to the rest of the class (20 points). Also, there was a 25-point bonus (or really an automatic 125) for writing a program faster than his program.

I managed to beat him by an instruction or two, but it wasn't easy! I ended up working far harder than I should have for that extra 25 points, but it was definitely worth it.

The challenge was this: given four numeric characters of input that are not all the same, (1122 is valid; 1111 isn't)

1. Sort the number from greatest to least
2. Print the result
3. Subtract from this the same number sorted from least to greatest.
4. Loop; terminate when two successive results are equal.

Example: 4377

It was well worth the time spent. Hint: the final program was well under 100 x86 instructions to implement; the early implementations were well over 500, though! :)
pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [] .

There've been a couple (4)

James Dean (28259) | more than 13 years ago | (#492919)

First and formeost in my mind is Dave Cagley, my Drama teacher my senior year of high school. Dave, as we knew him, came into our lives when the previous Drama teacher contracted Lupis and had to leave. It was great because for the first time we were learning real acting and real theater and stuff that we could use in the real world. But not only that but he taught us about confidence and going into any situation in life with the outlook that you are going to win. When we were on stage he pushed us to win. To win the moment. That philosphy he urged us to carry into other parts of our lives. To win at what ever objective we were pursuing. Then there was Fred Myers, my senior English teacher. He brought the beauty of the written word to life for us. He took a bunch of apathetic and ill-educated high school seniors and brought literature to life for us. Not only that but he urged us to see the lessons that these books could teach us. He also had us take a look at popular culture and to really examine what made us like the things we liked. It was fantastic. Mike Mikulics, goverment teacher taught us that it is not only right but it is our duty to question our leadership. Good teachers are hard to find but those that we do find need to be treasured and allowed the room to educate children as they see fit. The common thread amongst all of my most influential teachers is that they thought outside the box and weren't afraid to step outside the cirriculum if that meant educating us better.

Three Best Teachers (4)

Snowfox (34467) | more than 13 years ago | (#492920)

I had 3 teachers who really made a difference...

In the 2nd grade, I was in a classroom where both the 2nd and 3rd grades were taught. Generally, one grade level was brought to a small area for lessons while the other worked on assignments. I asked if I could take both grades at once if I kept up with the work. The teacher simply agreed, telling me I could proceed so long as my work was good. She didn't lean on me or breathe down my neck, simply let me do my thing. I got all As in all courses for both grade levels.

In high school, I had an English teacher who taught English almost as a secondary thing. Her class was all about life lessons; what it feels like to be an adult, to get older, to enter real relationships, to age - on and on. She tried to give us a picture of the real world, something which was lacking in every other classroom I've been in. Almost every time she'd start talking, I'd listen and drink it all in - no other teacher had me doing that.

Lastly, in my senior year of high school, I had a computer teacher who just got excited about what I was doing. That was it. He'd get excited, tell me it was cool, and stay out of my way. He let me work on pretty much whatever I wanted, so long as I was actively doing something. I ended up publishing a game I'd written in class, and that was the start of my career.

My most important teacher! (4)

Minupla (62455) | more than 13 years ago | (#492921)

Well, just to prove that not all learning occurs in school:

My vote for best teacher has to go to Ken McVay, (now well known for the Nizkor Archives [] , which became his passion after I was his student.

When I first ran into him he was running the local FidoNet BBS system. I was about 12 at the time. Ken was locally famous for his lack of patience with anyone under 30. I was the sole exception to this rule in the time I knew him. I was running a local Commadore 64 standalone BBS system, and Ken felt that I should move up and become part of FidoNet, and helped, through his part pile and the part piles of people he knew, me put together a pile of parts that it was possible to assemble into a 4.77MHz IBM compat. I was in 7th heaven. Over the years, Ken was responsible for my first exposure to multiuser systems (QNX), unix (Xenix), and became my first employer at his local computer store.

So here's a toast to the Crumudgeon, the most influencial teacher in my life!

Remove the rocks to send email

My favorite! (4)

tartanboy (262669) | more than 13 years ago | (#492922)

Well i used to have this teacher named Mrs. Robinson, and we used to do all kinds of great things together... Walks in the park, romantic dinners, days on the beach.... Oh wait... damn, I'm getting reality and imagination mixed up again! Damn you Paul Simon!

Best CS teacher? Leon. (5)

rjh (40933) | more than 13 years ago | (#492923)

One of my college profs, Leon <last name deleted for privacy's sake>, is the person who probably taught me the most about CS of anyone.

When I was a freshman I had a major leap on everybody else because I already knew Pascal. (Yes, folks, back in those dark days, that was the language of academic computer science.) I had all the programming coursework done in the first week of class, and all the homework done shortly thereafter.

My first exam, then, I was deeply surprised to see that he docked me three times as many points as the next fellow for a specific programming question, even though our answers were absolutely identical. I was angry and asked him why I was docked more severely--and, for that matter, why I was docked at all.

"Well," Leon said, "you declared this as a global variable, not a local--" I interrupted him at that point and made some rash statement about how Joe over there did the exact same thing and Leon docked him hardly anything at all.

Leon's answer? "I judged you more harshly because you know better than he does."

I walked away from that exam with just a burning rage at how my A was getting eviscerated down to a B+ unfairly. I couldn't drop the course without screwing up my entire degree plan, though, and I couldn't get into a different section, so I was stuck with that petty tyrant, Leon.

Once I realized I was stuck, I went back to all the code I'd hammered out in the first week and removed every single global variable from it. It was bad enough that I got nailed once, but I'd be damned before I'd be nailed twice.

Every time homework came back to us I'd find myself judged more harshly than other students; I'd have points docked off for things other students were able to get away with altogether, or I'd get docked for using the algorithm he supplied instead of researching a better, more oprimal algo, or what-have-you. My ire kept on going up with every returned homework assignment, every exam, every pop quiz.

And after each and every one of these deaths-by-a-thousand-cuts, I went back to my code and fixed it. I went back to my homework file (remember how I did all the homework the first two weeks?) and amended my answers.

By the end of CS 101, my grade had fallen from the A I was Anticipating to a C I was Chagrined at. It especially boiled my noodles that I was head and shoulders the best programmer in that class, and I was getting one of the lowest grades in the class.

When the course was over and I was waiting for final grades, I was dead certain I was going to be filing a complaint with the Administration. I finally got my grade, tore it open, and lo and behold... 100, A. The registrar sent me a note in campus mail congratulating me on the "rare feat" of passing a course without missing a single point. Parents were happy, friends were happy, I was ... confused.

I stopped by Leon's office and asked him what was up with the schizophrenic grading. He explained there was nothing schizophrenic about it. "But I had a C," I said. "How did I get an A?"

Leon patiently explained to me a grade is meant to show how well a student has learned the subject he's been taught. "Right," I said, "and my grades were lousy. You kept on nickel-and-diming me everywhere, on stuff that wasn't even important."

No, Leon told me. He was teaching everyone else in the class how to program, and that's what the tests measured. Sure, I was flubbing those tests, but those tests were irrelevant because he wasn't teaching me how to program. Instead, he was teaching me was how to program well, and he measured that on an entirely different scale.

My senior year I had to write a thesis. I chose cryptography as my topic and requested Leon for my advisor. The day before graduation, Leon and I sat down in his office and discussed what the last grade of my last year was going to be. He was complimentary about my work and said that, between the thesis and the research I'd been doing connected with it, I undoubtedly deserved an A, if not an A+, for my efforts. "But I'm only going to give you an A-," he said with a grin. "As a reminder to you that there's always more."

That's the most important CompSci lesson I've ever learned.

Thanks, Leon. I owe you.

my best teacher was one of my earliest:the TRS-80! (5)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 13 years ago | (#492924)

yes, that's right. I started with the trs-80 model 1 [] when it first came out (or about a year afterwards, when I could afford it). it taught me most of what I needed to know to be very successful in my field (I'm a software engineer).

I spent countless hours with that system. most of my ability to approach problems and solve them (technically, at least) came from the time I spent hacking code (and hardware) for 'my personal computer'.

back in '78 or so, when it first came out, personal computers were a novelty and fascination. and you felt special if you posessed one of these in your home. you wanted to spend all your available time with it, and with so many hours comes a level of 'grok' that can only be attained by hardcore overtime.

I found that since I was in my early teens when I got my first computer, learning to relate to the box at its level became second-nature to me. by the time I was college age, the computer science classes were almost trivially easy and the lab assignments were unchallenging as well.

I fully believe that getting exposed to computers very early gives people such a huge advantage later on - especially if they go into that very field. the radio shack trs-80 [] was the first system to be so widely available to anyone who wanted it, and it had a 'cool factor' that, at the time, was undenyable. give a kid one of those and if he really gets into it, he's just found himself a high paying and secure career for life.



Halon50 (195294) | more than 13 years ago | (#492925)

I'm not convinced. They deserve higher salaries, but not for the competition it would bring to the field. Most teachers in public education are in the job because they love the payment that comes in forms other than money. Sure, there are exceptions, but for the most part these teachers put up with the really poor salary to truly make a difference in the public education system.

A particular example comes to mind. After getting out of high school, I TA'd there a couple years later for a "new generation" teacher got hired the year after I graduated. This instructor taught introductory computer courses to mostly lower-income 7th- and 8th-graders, something given to every new teacher their first couple of years to "stress test" them and see if they survive. If they make it past those years, then the school "allowed" them to teach high school (grades 9 through 12).

Anyways, the classes I TA'd for this teacher were pretty uneventful through most of the year. We handed out coursework in PASCAL (this was in the days before C/C++ and Java were the norm), graded tests, answered programming questions, and generally tried to offer these kids the chance to break free of their "gangbanger" mindset, and grow both mentally as well as spiritually.

The gem of this class came one day when, while the other kids were at their stations working on the latest programming project, one young black girl just refused to move from her desk, saying she just "couldn't do it any more," all the while sobbing, tears streaming down her cheeks. At the time she was dressed in a thin pair of sweatpants and a Raiders jacket, attire not uncommon among the streets of Southeast San Diego (Golden Hills). While I took care of the more mundane tasks of the classroom, our instructor sat down next to her, took her hand, and slowly built up her confidence in herself and her own abilities. By the time the bell rang, the girl was still a bit shaky, but had stopped sobbing, and even smiled at a joke or two the teacher sent her way.

Fast forward one year.

I revisited my old high school stomping grounds to say hello to some old friends in the faculty and staff, when I saw the same girl, now in the 9th grade, walking down a hallway talking with two friends. Her appearance had totally changed. Now, instead of wearing ratty clothing, she wore tasteful, brightly-colored clothes. Instead of holding a thin, nearly-empty paper folder in one hand, she gripped at least two textbooks and a Trapper Keeper stuffed with notes and assignments. Instead of walking the hallways with her head down, avoiding contact with everyone, she held her head high, her eyes bright with intelligence as she talked cheerfully with her friends.

The change was absolutely stunning to me. She stopped when she saw me, and we talked for a little bit. She mentioned plans to go to college after graduation, something that would have been totally unthinkable to her a few short months ago. I could hardly believe the changes she made in her self-confidence, and when I asked her what made her re-think her future, she referred to the incident in the computer classroom the year before.

When people ask me if I would ever consider becoming a CompSci teacher after I finish college, I mostly just shake my head and say, "I'm just a software guy. Teachers need to have so much more ability than what I can offer." I can definitely see why people would take a 50% pay cut to get their teaching credentials and enter the System though, especially when the rewards for success are so great, no matter how sporadically they may come.

Miss Pereira, if by some twist of fate you're reading this, know that you've been the most influential teacher in my life--and you weren't even one of mine!

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