Quotation fun – What was your worst classroom moment?

In the book, The Ode Less Travelled, Stephen Fry writes the following tidbit about poetry in the Foreward:

Fry wrote:
It seems to many that while there is a clear road to learning music, gardening or watercolours, poetry lies in inaccessible marshland: no pathways, no signposts, just the skeletons of long-dead poets poking through the bog and the unedifying sight of living ones floundering about in apparent confusion and mutual enmity. Behind it all, the dread memory of classrooms swollen into resentful silence while the English teacher invites us to ‘respond’ to a poem.

To be frank, I honestly can’t remember a bad moment in the classroom, probably because I was reading ahead in the text while everyone else was snoring into their desktops. When we studied Chaucer in 10th grade, it was the most fun I’d ever had in English class. The best parts were the raunchy passages; my teacher read from the text in the doorway, ever alert for the footsteps of the vice-principal (a nun) because technically, she wasn’t allowed to teach such a thing in my high school.

So, what was your worst classroom moment?

6 thoughts on “Quotation fun – What was your worst classroom moment?

  1. It’s funny, but I can remember a King Lear exam where I just had no idea how to even begin answering the questions. We had read the play out loud in class, and I had even participated, but I didn’t understand a word of it.It might be fun to see those same questions today. King Lear is one of my absolute favorite plays and I have even gathered friends together to read it out loud. I pay lots of money to see famous actors like F. Murray Abraham, Kevin Kline, and – coming soon – Ian McKellan play the role. I have about five different versions of the play on DVD. I have only ever taught it once, but that was in an advanced graduate-level Shakespeare course.So if I were to see those questions now, I might think them laughably simple. But as an 11th grade student sitting down to take the test, all I could do was laugh. The questions were that ridiculous to me. And there I sat, laughing hysterically in English class with a blank sheet of paper in front of me and an English teacher with a “we are not amused” expression growing on her face.I should probably stop by and visit her some time. We could discuss us some King Lear.

  2. Bill, that’s a good story. I remember seeing Lear done by Patrick Stewart, years ago. At least I think it was Patrick Stewart; my memory isn’t what it used to be. Anyway, it was incredible. Much better than reading the play.

  3. My worst was when my fifth grade teacher separated me from class because the other students picking on me (and throwing things) was disruptive! Like it was MY fault. Nice. Mr. Pierce is easily in one of the lower circles of hell at present. He’s the ogre of my youth.My best memories in class are always the revelatory ones – when the world seems new because you’ve learned something that redefines it. Or the ones where some aside on my part got a laugh.

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