In previous posts, I have flogged bad mothers and rotten fathers, so it seems only appropriate that as we reach mid-September, I turn my attention to the terrible teachers out there in the classrooms (or, in my neck of the woods) on the picket lines. Bad teachers... we've all suffered at the hands of a few of these, barely escaping their worst practices with our educational lives. Like Miss Garfield, my kindergarten teacher, who, during Show and Tell (remember that?!?!), only let me read aloud the first half of The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper, because we had to "get through" 3 more students in the time allotted. The experience was so traumatic to a child who loved to read aloud (and was damn good at it at age 5) that even today the memory brings the bitter taste of disappointment and resentment to my mouth.
Sappy stories of inspiring teachers are ubiquitous (Okay, Stand and Deliver, Mr. Chips, as you walk Up the Down Staircase and organize a Dead Poets Society)-- but I find that I am actually more inspired as an educator by the rotten apples in the classroom basket: inspired to rise above their failings, avoid their pettiness, channel the inevitable frustrations of the teaching life for good rather than evil, use their bad examples to push for excellence rather than mediocrity. So all hail the bad teachers: we salute the way you make us want to NOT be like you!
Presented for your approval, top five TILFs:
5. Miss Halsey ("Bad Teacher") A stinker of a movie about a stinker of a teacher played by Cameron Diaz: a foul-mouthed, gold-digging, hung-over cheater whose main reason for taking a junior-high teaching gig is to save up money for breast implants. Maybe she shouldn't have splurged on the Louboutin stilettos she's wearing in the photo. (Tag line: "She doesn't give an "F.")
4. Dan Dunne ("Half Nelson") He's a hot, young history teacher, (portrayed by the librarian's favorite pin-up, Ryan Gosling); an inspiration to his middle-school students in the classroom and the basketball court. He's also a misogynistic crack addict who, in a very misguided moment, gets high in the locker-room. Not the best example to set for the troubled student who catches him at it. (Suggested tagline: He should have stuck with teachers' legal drugs of choice: caffeine and chocolate.)
3. Dean Wormer ("Animal House")
Dean Vernon Wormer is the villainous dean of Faber College, played by John Vernon. He's an uptight, stuffed-shirt whose probably never had a bit of fun in his whole life and he's out to get the rowdy, hard-partying Delta fraternity. (His wife has to crash the Deltas' toga bash to get her ya-yas out.) He's certainly lost the joy of teaching and he's definitely way past his sell-buy date. (Suggested tagline: If this is the alternative, maybe I would rather be fat, drunk and stupid.)
2. Dolores Umbridge ("Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix") Evil incarnate dipped in a coating of Pepto-Bismal, Dolores (as written in the books and portrayed by Imelda Staunton on film) is arguably one of the most ruthless characters in the series, ranking right up there with Lord Voldemort. Beneath the tea-sipping facade and honey-dripping voice lies a sadist. And there's nothing worse than a sadistic teacher, especially one who believes she's doing good. (Suggested tagline: "Because deep down you know that you deserve to be punished.")
1. Edna Krabappel ("The Simpsons") Edna Krabappel is the fourth-grade teacher at Springfield Elementary School and a classic caricature of the American educational system and all its faults. She's a lonely, bitter divorcée who is always looking for love in all the wrong places, who smokes like the proverbial chimney on school grounds(!), and who is totally disillusioned after years of teaching. Of course, if I had Bart Simpson as a student, I'd probably get burned out mighty quick, too. She has little interest in pushing children to achieve standards of excellence, but still manages to canork about school funding and have a fling with her principal. (Quote: "As you know, Bart, one day your permanent record will disqualify you from all but the hottest and noisiest jobs.")
Might make a great reality TV show, in the vein of What Not to Wear: How Not to Teach...
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