The other day, I wrote a letter to a long-ago teacher of mine. He was my English teacher back in high school, and he was, finally, pretty great. I don’t know why, at the beginning of things, he was convinced I needed to be booted out of class. But when things finally turned around, they went great and I learned a lot from him.
The reason I wrote the letter was because, a few months ago, a complete prick retired. The complete prick was another teacher of mine, and he was unrelentingly, unabashedly, and rather straightfowardly, a complete prick, at least to me. And when he retired, someone set up a Facebook thread to congratulate him on the occasion, and tell him what a great teacher he was. I felt just a little annoyed, when I ran across it, by all the wonderful congratulations, while nobody was standing up and saying, “Wait… dude… you were a total prick!” and found myself writing up a rant that I didn’t end up posting, even if he was, perhaps, the worst teacher I ever had. (There is a university professor who might tie for that dishonour, I’m not sure.)
I figured, what’s the point? When I tell a cabbie who sucks that he sucks, he usually just sucks more. But when I give a tip to a cabbie who is doing a great job, he usually appreciates it. I figure tipping a retired cabbie, I’ll retain the nice effect of his happiness, while not tipping a crappy retired cabbie — and commenting publicly on the not-tipping — will do nobody any good, especially the nasty cabbie who is too old to learn from it.
So I decided it would be much better to write a letter to a teacher who was a positive influence, thanking him and letting him know I remember his classes fondly. So I wrote up a letter the other day. I’ll be posting it sometime this week.
By the way, the great teacher I wrote to with a thank-you letter? His name was Len Osiowy, and he was my English teacher at Holy Cross High School in Saskatoon, Canada. He’s not on Facebook or even the Web, as far as I can find, but he seems to still be at the same address. (At least I hope he is! He must be getting on in years, and I hope I’m not too late, but he’s still listed in the phone directory as of the other day.)
I’m late for Korean teacher’s day — that was a month or two ago — but any time is a good time to write a letter to an educator who you remember as a good influence, as a good teacher. I can say, after years of teaching, it’s always cool to hear from someone you once taught, even someone you can’t quite remember, so if you haven’t done so… you might think about doing it…