stupid teacher stories

Jennifer Forsyth jforsyth at
Thu Jan 6 17:12:57 EST 2000

When I taught a class called "Reading and Interpreting" to a group of
English majors this summer, I asked everybody to tell a story about a time
when somebody disagreed with their interpretation of literature or when
somebody really liked it. All except one cited a bad experience, usually
from an English teacher, and most were real horror stories--the sort of
thing you laugh at in movies because it seems so improbable. Typical
responses were along the lines of "You obviously haven't READ the
story/poem/play or you wouldn't have said that" (when given the details,
I was invariably honestly able to give the student's interpretation at
least as much credit as whatever their teacher had said; one of the ones
that still makes me cringe was when a teacher said, regarding a
14-year-old's meditations on the kind of love Romeo and Juliet
felt, "What makes you think YOU'RE qualified to have an opinion?" [try
reading this out loud and really sneering. It may lose something in
translation to e-mail.]

Jennifer Forsyth

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