Education in the U.S. is a disaster these days. Teachers aren’t permitted to teach. Worse, students don’t get the chance to really learn. The curriculum is all memorization and standardized tests leaving no opportunity to explore ideas and concepts, to even discover there is more to education than passing exams.

I was lucky. I had teachers who helped me learn to learn. To love reading, to make up stories. To write them. To create non-fiction which was complete, accurate, and unbiased and to know what that means. To find humor in physics. To love history, religion, archaeology, philosophy and the mysteries of our world.

They encouraged curiosity, imagination and creative thinking.

library tower 63

Mrs. Schiff, 4th grade teacher at P.S. 35, who suggested I write “diaries” of historical people and learn to put myself into their worlds. Thank you. You made me feel special and talented and those lessons have traveled far and wide.

Dr. Silver, who taught English Literature and Linguistics at Jamaica High school. He forced me to parse sentences and respect punctuation and grammar while making me laugh. His doctorate in Linguistics helped him make our language intriguing, like a giant mystery to unravel. I’m still unraveling it.

College was the most fun I ever had and the best work I ever did.


Mr. Wekerle, head of Hofstra University’s Philosophy department. He believed in me. He taught phenomenology, History of Religion, Philosophy of Religion, but more importantly, saw through my bullshit. The first — and only professor to give me a grade of D-/A+ … D- for content, A+ for style. He didn’t let me get away with anything. He made me fill in all those leaps of logic even though I whined vociferously that “everyone knows that stuff.” Wekerle said “No, they don’t. You know. Now tell them.”

And I did. From that grew a 40 year career.

Dr. Feiffer — my high school physics teacher — taught me even I, the least mathematically inclined student ever — could be fascinated by science. I never got it together with numbers, but I learned to love science. I still do. The logic of it, the truth of it, the importance of it have stayed with me an entire lifetime. I got what I needed from dedicated teachers who worked for crappy salaries to teach dunderheads and wise-asses like me to think, write, research and love learning.

The gifts they gave me were priceless.

Daily Prompt: WE CAN BE TAUGHT — Tell us about a teacher who had a real impact on your life, either for the better or the worse. How is your life different today because of him or her?

Just a month ago, this one came around. The title is slightly altered,but it’s the same subject in almost the same words. Mind you, it’s a pleasant subject, but so recently written, I can’t see any reason to write it again. Hey, if you’re going to recycle the prompts as often as once per month, I’ll recycle my response. If it’s good for the goose, it must be perfectly okay for the gander, right? But wait … I’M the goose. Oops. Bad analogy. 

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Opinionated writer with hopes for a better future for all of us!


  1. My son’s education was very good, Swiss Gymnasium and they had some good teachers. When he is in town he might meet them, they have now become colleagues and they gave him a good pointer in life.


      1. I had two high school teachers who didn’t laugh at my purple prose “original” stories. They told me I was one of a very select few who wrote from the heart. They also suggested that I write….wait for it…wait for it….write about what I know.


  2. A few decent teachers can make a massive difference to someone’s future life. I had some particularly good ones for English, German and Physics. And what a surprise – I’ve lived in Germany, went through Physics at university and enjoy reading and writing. Coincidence? I think not.


        1. We’ve got people running “education” who are not educators, have never taught. They have theories, but no understanding of the difference between a theory and practice. And they don’t listen.


  3. I’ll never forget my first grade teacher who taught me how to read every morning before school. I needed that extra help getting started, but once I did I ended up reading more than anyone I know, especially now so many years later. The gift she gave me is something I’ll never forget.


        1. And it isn’t all that easy to do that. I thought I’d hooked my granddaughter, but all my work came unglued with the arrival of Facebook and cell phones. Not to mention a mother who has, by her own admission, NEVER read a book. Ever. In her life.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. People don’t. I read an article about the percentage of people who never read a book again after they leave school. It’s incredible high. This was also pre-internet so she did have that going for her 😉 he!


    1. I don’t know what’s wrong with people today. Teachers are — outside parents — the most influential people in a kids’ world. The work you do is more important than being head of some corporation. Good for YOU.


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