“Hic, Haec, Hoc”

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As I was reflecting about my Latin class I remembered something I mentioned in passing a couple of years ago. My Latin teacher was, I now believe, an alcoholic. We had Latin class after lunch, and she was in rare form. She got up on the desk and did a declension of the Latin “Hic, Haec, Hoc” as she kicked in a mini Can Can routine.

Teachers were absolute authorities when I was in high school, and what they said went. We never disagreed about their assessments of us, and we wouldn’t have dreamed of having our parents talk to any teacher about a disagreement. The teacher was always right. And this included their idiosyncrasies, such as dancing on the desk. I am sure none of us ever spoke about it out of class.

Our very strange English teacher used to put his feet up on his desk, put his hands down the front of his trousers and talk about the day’s readings. We found it “icky,” but that was as far as it went. Our response to that behavior makes it easier to understand how children tolerated aberrant behavior from adults such as priests in those days.

One excellent English teacher always wore what I thought was the same dress every day for the entire school year. I learned much later that she actually had five of the same dresses made for her which she was rotating. I guess she didn’t want to have to think about what to wear on any given day.

I even had one intriguing English professor in graduate school. He had terrible stage fright about lecturing to the class. To solve this, he would start the lecture as he walked down the corridor outside the class door. Then he would enter, mid sentence, and continue on. It was confusing at first since we missed the beginning of the first sentence, but we became used to it.

I shudder to think what idiosyncrasies my former students might report about me!

24 thoughts on ““Hic, Haec, Hoc”

  1. That’s hilarious! My kids had a middle school Spanish teacher who used to wiggle into her small closet and change clothes during class. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t find anything truly inappropriate about it, so never said anything. Thanks for making me lol today.

  2. I took a BEd on the cusp of my forties, which included teaching practice in urban and suburban primary schools. It seemed to me rather like acting – each day at work you were out front presenting a public persona to the class.
    I went back to work in libraries after completing part one of the degree since we’d run out of money for me to study full time. It was an interesting experience though, and gave my CV credibility to move from public libraries (by then, contracting at an alarming rate) into education libraries.

    1. I had the same realization about sexual activity. When I left the West Coast every girl was a virgin. Two weeks later when I arrived at my East Coast dormitory every other girl seemed to have become active!

  3. Ahhh, Latin class. My teacher, Mr. Boyland, was older and his skin very wrinkled. He would walk around the room and kick our desks if he wanted us to respond to questions he posed. If someone responded with a “stupid” answer, he would bang his forehead against the blackboard.

    Friday’s were fun, though. He wore a toga. He told stories about the gods and goddesses. He was lively and a great story teller. Not a great Latin teacher though.

  4. I was at senior school from 1963-1969. Teachers were divided equally between ‘old-school’ style teachers who just taught from a position of authority, and new-style young teachers who acted like friends, and encouraged debate and self-expression. I learned the most from that latter group, but then we also respected them at the same time.
    https://beetleypete.com/2012/10/11/a-good-education/
    Not sure how that works these days.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    1. Parents now routinely challenge the teachers on behalf(supposedly) of their children. My friends in education are severely undermined in their authority this way. Thanks for the link.

  5. So funny, Elizabeth, I had an English teacher who did pretty much the same thing you described. We used to giggle about it. We also had a science teacher who didn’t like girls. There were only four of us and he put is in a row at the back of his class and ignored us for the rest of the year.

  6. The strangest teacher I ever had was actually my English Literature teacher in college. I had her for two years. She was a Rastafarian with a name that was something like Menkat Ra. I could be wrong, but I’m almost sure that’s what it was.

    Her classes were impossibly boring. She would come to class, sit at her desk and lecture in this half dead tone. It was insane! People would fall asleep. Sometimes the whole class would be asleep and she would continue through her lecture like nothing was happening. Some people were brazen enough to just walk in and out of class. When she was done, she would assign us work, close her books, ask if we had any questions, answered any (usually from me) and then leave.

    Her mellow, nonchalant attitude also caused people to speculate about whether or not she was indulging in the good old Rastafarian past time of smoking weed. Her eyes really were red before class, so who knows?!

    I really liked her though. As deadpan as her classes were, that was easily changed by interacting with her. If you asked questions, no matter how difficult they were, she would do her best to answer. Very intelligent woman.

    That teacher of yours with his hand in his pants though. My God!

    I was always that kid who told my parents on the teacher so that teacher would have gotten in trouble if he was mine. At 9 years old, I used to skip school because my teacher wouldn’t show up and the class would be madness. Turns out the teacher was at carnival all those weeks!! She was furious with me when she found out it was me who told my parents who told the principal. She almost lost her job.

    I also had a drunkard teacher, but he was for math. He also had a thing for young girls. He hit on me once. I kind of laughed in his face and walked away. His liking me probably saved me though. I slept through all my math classes and he let me (unheard of in Catholic school!). But that was partially because I have a heart condition and was known for passing out. This was the only class I slept through 😅 I was otherwise a good student. I promise. Somehow I passed math.

  7. I am guessing you are right on about your “dancing on the desk teacher”! When I was seventeen my father was passed out and my mom went to the house next door where there were three guys who lived there. They were college students and I thought I was simply in love with one of them. We exchanged pleasantries across the fence every chance we got. My mom went over to their home, took off all of her clothes, and trust me that could not have been a pretty sight, and danced naked on their kitchen table. Then she told them she wanted to buy some weed from the. She eventually wandered home after I wouldn’t call the police on her, as one of the guys next door called and ordered me to do. She lost her audience, class over. Thank God. Needless to say, my embarrassment kept me inside and out of the back yard for months. Thank God for all the good and loving teachers out there that work hard to be an example. Several of my teachers were people I cherished because they actually saw me when I was little. Thank you to all the teachers out there doing their thing today, just and kindly. Love J

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