The Teacher Who Failed

September

September, 2020
Ray Blanchard is the only teacher I remember from 9th grade. That was almost sixty years ago and yet I still can see him, short and squat with a shock of straight blond hair wearing his usual rumpled gray suit.
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Ray Blanchard is the only teacher I remember from 9th grade. That was almost sixty years ago and yet I still can see him, short and squat with a shock of straight blond hair wearing his usual rumpled gray suit.

I remember him clearly because he spent countless hours trying to teach me Algebra, a subject that eludes me to this day. In countless exercises, repeated explanations and long sessions after school he sat on the corner of his desk smoking his British Consols while barking out instructions as I worked at the blackboard.

I passed the final exam that year by one point (probably a mercy grade he gave me to move me out of ninth grade) but Mr. Blanchard failed at the thing he wanted so badly for me to do – learn Algebra.

As I look back, however, I am amazed at how resilient the memory of this teacher is in my mind. Despite his lack of success in teaching me math he remains an icon of perseverance and kindness towards a kid who had no talent for his subject.

For this reason, I salute all the teachers who, like this wonderful man, try so hard to teach God's word to all of our children, their ability or capacity to learn not withstanding.

Rest assured that they will never forget you regardless of your success or failure. As far as Mr. Blanchard is concerned, I don't know what became of him, but he would be happy to know that my daughter Emilie is a whiz at math!

Discussion Questions

  1. Who was your favorite / least favorite teacher in school and why?
  2. Do you think that we place too much responsibility on teachers for the success of our children? Yes or No.
    • Why this answer?
  3. In your opinion, what is the most important service / attitude parents can provide teachers in order to help them succeed in teaching our children?
  4. What qualities do you most look for in a teacher who teaches your child?
    • Why these qualities?
  5. If you had the power to do so, what changes would you make to the educational system?