Sep 8, 2011

Little Miss Hitler

Some teachers are forgettable. Totally. So insignificant and un-passionate have they been about their profession that I cannot even remember their names. Their faces, I only have a vague recollection of. It's easy to forget people with no passion. These teachers were so indifferent, they did not even have the passion to scold!

Well anyway, the teachers that I can never forget are the really good ones, and also the really, really bad ones. And I must say, I have had more than my share of the bad ones. While there are so many I can think of to write about, there was this one particular teacher who was so horrendous, that she totally commands a separate blog post completely dedicated to her memory.

She was, as most of the horrifying ones are, a teacher of Maths. A subject that fails to inspire even when the best of the teachers are around. She taught me, or rather my class, for two torturous years during 11th and 12th standards. The years being called torturous only due to her inauspicious presence in them. Never before in history could any person have managed to despise anyone, as much as I have despised her.

Everything about her was frightening, including her persona. She was a small, thin, bespectacled woman whose eyes looked significantly large enough through those round glasses of hers to create a scary effect. She was always clad in a saree (the pallu of which she would wind around her waist, as though she were a woman entering battle) with gold bangles jingling at her wrists, and her hair was always, always tied in a bun at the nape of her neck. With her nostrils permanently affixed in the 'flare' mode, she was verily the epitome of numbers, Her Highness, Miss Righteousness, High Queen of Mathematicsland.

If her very appearance was a scary sight to behold, her antics in class were no less, I tell you. She frequently reminded the class about how brilliant she was at maths as a student, and how she expected no less of her students. She often regaled (read:bored) us with stories of the "mathscapades" of her younger days that got her looking all dreamy-eyed and got me, well, nauseous.

Did all the students hate her the same, you ask? Well no. Not the ones that were deemed brilliant by her at least. She seemed to be, rather blatantly, of the opinion that the girls in her class who did not do well, simply did not deserve to be there. Since maths was a subject of choice at the 11th and 12th standards, she wasted no time in informing us that it was "our problem and not hers" if we were labouring under the delusions that we could learn maths. Of course, completely ignoring the fact that we were doing perfectly fine in maths until we happened to chance upon her hell of a class.

This female Hitler of sorts, I secretly suspected, had taken it upon herself to purge the nation (or at least the college) of the inferior math species. She taught maths in class orally. Yes, orally. Not once in two years did she use the chalk and blackboard. All theorems, all problems, everything that could be done in a maths class, she would solve sitting up on her throne at the top of her class, orally, while we lowly beings scampered and scribbled through our notebooks, trying to keep up with her. While this could be considered a remarkable feat by any other person, coming from her, it only added to the frustrations and tears of a student like myself, who banked on hard work and not brilliance to perform well in the exams.

There came a time in these two years, when she decided that she would like to experience a boost in her ego. She announced in class one morning that she would not be teaching, but administering a 'feedback' session that day. All the students had to write down on a piece of paper, exactly what we thought about her and her class. She also gave us a dare, "if you are confident of what you have to say, you may write your names on the paper." Ya right, no way was I doing that! As my pen flew across the paper with ease, I stole a glance across the room and thought I saw several gleeful faces around me. The feedback was written and the papers handed in. She was to read them at home that evening. There was much speculation among us girls as to what would be the outcome of the 'session'.

What happened the next day caught us all by surprise. She entered the class as usual, stern gaze, flared nostrils and all, with the stack of papers in her hand. She then took her seat and announced to us that she was very disappointed. We thought that maybe we had made her mad. But no, she said, she was only very disappointed. The reason of her disappointed status, she coolly revealed, was the fact that not one of the single feedback notes were written in proper, grammatically correct English! She then proceeded to read out each and every note, correcting the sentences aloud, and poking fun at those who could not articulate themselves in a proper manner.

It was a sad day for teachers around the world.

There are many more pearls of wisdom that came from her during various classes, some of which are the following:

  • "If the tomatoes are rotten, there's nothing the cook can do." (Us being the tomatoes, and her being the cook)
  • "The lid just doesn't fit the jar." (Her being the jar and us being the lids, I think. That one didn't make much sense to me)
  • "No student of mine can come to me for private lessons. The day that happens, it means I have failed as a teacher." (This to a parent whose kid was doing badly and asked her for private lessons. Umm, guess what lady, you've already failed!)
  • On an unrelated note: "Vante Mataram just sounds like someone pinched A R Rahman and he's crying."
And many more such gems had been passed along to us through two years of maths lessons that have been lost across the sands of time. I wouldn't wish her upon even the worst of my enemies.


  1. Whoa gurl!! She sure reminds me of some very un-inspiring teachers I had during my school, days!! And I completely agree, passion in people for ANYTHING sure makes them come alive..

    Loved ur way or writing about the horrendous teach in a humorous way! Psst.. Math still is my hated subject :))

  2. I can totally relate to the sense of loathing you've felt. I had a chemistry teacher in my 11th and 12th like this. She is the one and only teacher who I've hated with all my heart. I don't think I've even loved anyone so sopassionately, the way I hated her!
    I used to fail in almost all chemistry exams, and she probably hated me for that. Or maybe it was because she was so horrible that I failed. Don't know...She made my life hell those two years. I used to get nightmares about balancing equations and stuff. :/
    A bad teacher can scar a student for life. Even now, when I hear 'Chemistry', I run in the opposite direction.
    Superbly written.

  3. @suma: Yep, there's nothing in life if not for passion. Glad you liked the post.
    @spaceman spiff:
    @spaceman spiff: I agree, it's teachers that can make or ruin a subject, not the subject itself. and, thanks!

  4. Came across this post and I feel its my story being retold. I had ditto experience with maths teacher in my high school. It was horrendous to such extent that I took up arts for my higher secondary. Almost everyone is class hated her. so it was kinda universal hatred.

    And unlike your nemesis, mine was poor in English. I feel like murdering her each time i think of her even though it has been ten years.

    Great read. :)

  5. Hi Jane! Thanks for stopping by, and welcome to The Daily Moo :) You too? Wonder why it's usually the math teachers who are so horrendous. I can totally sympathize with your murderous feelings, I feel the same way too.

  6. I was a nerdy kinda person throughout school and Maths was my fav subject. The main reason for this was a great teacher that I had. Teachers truly have such a huge say in our life! If only all were like her!!!

    "It's easy to forget people with no passion"

    I love this line! :)

    1. @evybodylovesomebody: Hey! Welcome to The Daily Moo. Glad to see you here. :) What you said is so true. The subject becomes interesting and inspiring when the teacher is great. I remember as kids we used to wait for our favourite teacher's class during the day. Yes, if only all teachers were like that.

  7. well..I had this Maths teacher whom I hated to the core. She hd the sternest voice and would not tolerate a single murmur in the class!!