“The Best Teacher I EVER Had”

This afternoon, I had some time to catch up on a little reading and read a blog post by Bill Gates entitled, “The Best Teacher I Never Had.” Bill Gates speaks of watching, reflecting, and sharing the teachings of Richard Feynman.

What I loved about this post is how he saw Feynman not only as an amazing teacher and scientist, but an amazing man with so much character. And while he goes on about how Feynman was ‘The best teacher he never had,’ I then thought about all the great teachers in MY life that I HAVE had. The ones that made content come alive. The ones that made learning fun. The ones that connected the stories, teachings, and lives of those in the past and present to MY life.

I thought about how Mr. Millet walked into my 8th grade class dressed as Edgar Allan Poe to introduce us to “The Cask of Amontillado” and “The Tell-Tale Heart” by delivering a fully memorized performance worthy of an audience greater than ours. This is the man who gave a whole new meaning to “live in the moment.” And while for the sake of having to read through an extremely long post, this later played a key part in my development as an educator… (I’m sure there are educators in your life who have done the same!)

I thought about Mr. Burns during my Junior year of high school who encouraged me to read, write, and THINK differently than I had been taught previously. I remember him telling me that while what I have learned from previous teachers was “fine and correct,” he encouraged me to “look beyond” and use “binoculars” to see further. To see if there was something I may have overlooked. A new angle. An alternative or creative new way of approaching a situation.

Those are just two of many influences who had a role in my development as an educator. And while I haven’t had the opportunity to have famous teachers in my life like Richard Feynman, what Bill Gates says in his post definitely rings true:

In that sense, Feynman has a lot in common with all the amazing teachers I’ve met in schools across the country. You walk into their classroom and immediately feel the energy—the way they engage their students—and their passion for whatever subject they’re teaching. These teachers aren’t famous, but they deserve just as much respect and admiration as someone like Feynman. If there were a Nobel for making high school algebra exciting and fun, I know a few teachers I would nominate.
— Bill Gates

So here’s to all the “Richard Feynmans” in our lives! The great educators who took a part in molding us into who we are today, the educators who thus created new educators who will have an impact on future generations to come!

Mike de LeonComment