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February 17, 2007 / Maleesha Kovnesky

More Stellar Teachers

I definitely don’t want anyone from Butte reading this to confuse Mr. Williams of the third grade with Mr. Williams of the 8th grade.  Two different people altogether.  The 8th grade version of the Mr. Williams was a phenomenal (yet quite cantakerous, he helped solidify my fascination and awe with the elderly) reading/lit teacher.  He taught me more about how to get something from reading than anyone else in my life.

But it’s not that entertaining to write about the great teachers of one’s past.  It’s much more fun to tell stories of the ones who slipped through the cracks.

Take Mr. Shovlin, of freshman World Cultures.  World Cultures was a cross between geography and history.  It was a required course, and Mr. S. was the man with the plan to teach.  I’m sorry to say the plan was a failure. 

Mr. S’s modus operandi was to have us open the book and start copying chapters.  Not paragraphs, mind you…chapters.  But first we would have to read the chapter.  But even before that, he would read the chapter.  Now if you recall the famously monotone teacher character created by Ben Stein, you are somewhat close to understanding how Mr. S spoke.  Just take Ben Stein’s character, drop the voice octave down to the level of a blue whale (if you added pants that were too short, a pocket protector with a pack of cigarettes shoved behind it, and a combover, you get bonus points). 

So Mr. Shovlin would read the entire chapter. 

Then the class would read the chapter in paragraphs.  If the reader stumbled upon a word, or pronounced in incorrectly, or changed ‘a’ to ‘an’, or any other common, inadvertant mistake, they would have to start the paragraph over.  This got especially painful when one of the not-so-great readers would take over.  Some of these chapters took the entire class period to suffer through.  Of course, the real suffering didn’t come into play until it was time for homework.

Mr. Shovlin’s homework consisted of the students writing the chapter out, word for word, in spiral bound notebooks.  That’s right folks, we had to write out the entire chapter after reading it, as well as listening to Mr. S read it.  The hilarity really shows in the fact that he would actually read and correct these written-out chapters.  Again, there was hell to pay if we accidentally misspelled a word or transposed a word, or whatever.  Punishment came in the form of the offender having to copy out the entire index of the book, word for word. 

Instead of learning anything relative to the course material, I’m pretty sure we all learned about attention to detail. 


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