My favorite teacher of all time has to be my English literature teacher. He was called Mr. Radford, and Mr. Radford is my favorite teacher for many reasons, all of which I will go over as they happened. The course of events goes from my first year to my last year of high school.
Taught me history
My favorite teacher was my English literature teacher. He started out as my history teacher and made a first impression as a bit of a stuffy old man. He believed in god, even though most of the class didn’t, and he was known for shouting at kids. He was also oddly loved by the older students, and nobody in the first year knew why as we sat in class before him.
The world is flat
He started a lesson by telling us the world is flat. He said he could prove it and encouraged the class to quiz him on it. We spent the whole lesson arguing fiercely that the world was round, but every answer, reason or evidence we gave to him was thrown back with a plausible theory. He explained why we do not fall off of the end of the earth, and gave even more convincing reasons was to why a compass points north and south. As the bell went and we were all about to leave, he said to us, “That is the reception Copernicus got when he tried to explain that the earth was not the center of the universe.”
Had a triple heart bypass
He vanished and we were told he had a triple heart bypass. The support he got from the students was legendary. Shortly before he came back, our English teacher (who was also a fantastic man) died of leukemia. Mr. Fawdry was a great man and treated his students with the same respect he gave adults.
Came back as an English literary teacher
Mr. Radford came back and started to teach English instead of History. He was still the Principal’s second in command, but had decided to change to history. The man who now taught history was a spotty young man who could not handle the class. Veteran teachers had trouble controlling the classes, so having this man teach History was like throwing a lamb to the wolves. Mr. Radford always had control of his class, and even once told of the brainy kid in the class for talking too much (which was a great moment for all of us).
He thought he was history, but he still has a story to live
Mr. Radford stopped teaching history and started teaching English. It was weird seeing him in a new setting, but the class structure and respect level stayed the same. He did not even look ill after having the surgery; although he probably had a lot of time to recover, (it gets harder to remember these days).
Who is making all of this noise?
This was a classic line that he gave as he burst out of his English class. The hallways were always a riot as kids moved from one class to another. He was used to being locked in the dungeon that was the history department. The English class was next to the main hallway. He burst out of his classroom into the crowded hallway and yelled, “Who the hell is making all of this noise.” A young first year student who had only been there a week said, “You are.”
Teachers give you last year’s tests to look at so you can see what it going to be on the exams. They have you do mock tests and they point out the important stuff you need to remember. Mr. Radford gave quality advice that nobody else ever said. For example, he said to use the phrase “of which” in a sentence, as it demonstrates a higher level of English that will get you into the higher grade margins.
He was the only one to outwardly defend me in class
Most kids are bullied in school, and I was called names and picked on all the time. It wasn’t a physical thing, just a constant stream of name-calling. I was used to getting it all day every day. It was only in his class where he once said, “Would you leave him alone.” It’s strange how stuff like that is remembered. My Geography teacher did it once too. Mr. Whitaker said, “Would you lay off him” which is also something I remember because teachers used to just let it happen.
He was smart enough to see past Steven Cardwell
In an English Lit class, Mr. Radford said something about John Wayne, and for some reason I said, “Take it away pilgrim” in a normal volume but as a John Wayne impression. Steven Cardwell did a gasp and an “aww” as if I had said something very offensive. Usually, this made the teacher holler at whoever spoke with the assumption that Steven’s reaction was warranted. Mr. Radford didn’t fall for it. He just asked what I said and said no more about it. I had watched countless other kids get in trouble because of Steven, but Mr. Radford didn’t fall for it.
He taught me how to think.
The “world is flat” lesson really got to me. It is the first time I started to question what I am supposed to “know” and what is supposedly true. He taught me to think so that even in the later years when he was teaching English, I could see past the text interpret it in a multitude of logical ways.