Friday, January 25, 2013

Two Lessons -- Writer's Poke #401





I don’t remember the names of every professor I’ve had, but two names have stayed with me for the past 20 years.

When I was a freshman in college, I had Dr. Jay Hammerski for Chemistry and Ms. Devon Flesor for English. That Spring semester, I also had classes in History, Psychology, and Botany, but I don’t remember the names of my professors in those classes.

So why do I remember Dr. Hammerski and Ms. Flesor? 

The second day in Dr. Hammerski’s class, he said, “Okay, get out a piece of paper. Pop quiz time. Question #1: What is my name?” I remember that students just looked at each other in disbelief, and I’m not kidding when I say that the entire class let out an audible gasp. Not only did he expect us to know his first and last name, but he also expected us to spell it correctly. Turned out that over half of the class didn’t know his name. They certainly did after the quiz, and I’m sure that most of the class, like me, still remembers his name. It was an important lesson in respect, but I can also freely admit that learning his name might be the only thing I retained from taking that class.

Ms. Flesor never gave a pop quiz like that. What she did give us with a Reading List. This list contained 117 novels, and from it I picked Frankenstein for the term paper assignment she required. I didn’t stop with Frankenstein, however. That semester opened up what would apparently become my lifelong love of reading.

I remember being impressed that Ms. Flesor had read every book on the list, and I started to highlight each book on the list as I read it. Although I still haven’t read every book on her list, I still have the list, and I credit this list with pointing me in the right direction. Not only do I remember Ms. Flesor’s name, but I also remember her as the person who taught me to love reading. 

What lessons do you teach people? How do you most want to be remembered?

“My father taught me to work; he did not teach me to love it. I never did like to work, and I don’t deny it. I’d rather read, tell stories, crack jokes, talk, laugh – anything but work.” – Abraham Lincoln

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