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[图文]Best Teacher I Ever Had

[日期:2010-05-10] 来源:  作者:国际部 [字体: ]

 

Best Teacher I Ever Had

     Mr. Whitson taught sixth-grade science. On the first day of class, he gave us a lecture about a creature called the cattywampus, an ill-adapted nocturnal animal that was wiped out during the Ice Age. He passed around a skull as he talked. We all took notes and later had a quiz.

     When he returned my paper, I was shocked. There was a big red X through each of my answers. I had failed. There had to be some mistake! I had written down exactly what Mr. Whitson said. Then I realized that everyone in the class had failed. What had happened?

     Very simple, Mr. Whitson explained. He had made up all that stuff about the cattywampus. There had never been any such animal. The information in our notes was, therefore, incorrect. Did we expect credit for incorrect answers?

     Needless to say, we were outraged. What kind of test was this? And what kind of teacher?

     We should have figured it out, Mr. Whitson said. After all, at the very moment he was passing around the cattywampus skull (in truth, a cat’s), hadn’t he been telling us that no trace of the animal remained? He had described its amazing night vision, the color of its fur and any number of other facts he couldn’t have known. He had given the animal a ridiculous name, and we still hadn’t been suspicious. The zeroes on our papers would be recorded in his grade book, he said. And they were.

     Mr. Whitson said he hoped we would learn something from this experience. Teachers and textbooks are not infallible. In fact, no one is. He told us not to let our minds go to sleep, and to speak up if we ever thought he or the textbook was wrong.

     Every class was an adventure with Mr. Whitson. I can still remember some science periods almost from beginning to end. One day he told us that his Volkswagen was a living organism. It took us two full days to put together a refutation he would accept. He didn’t let us off the hook until we had proved not only that we knew what an organism was but also that we had the fortitude to stand up for the truth.

     We carried our brand-new skepticism into all our classes. This caused problems for the other teachers, who weren’t used to being challenged. Our history teacher would be lecturing about something, and then there would be clearing of the throat and someone would say “cattywampus.”

     If I’m ever asked to propose a solution to the crisis in our schools, it will be Mr. Whitson. I haven’t made any great scientific discoveries, but Mr. Whitson’s class gave me and my classmates something just as important: the courage to look people in the eye and tell them they are wrong. He also showed us that you can have fun doing it.

     Not everyone sees the value in this. I once told an elementary school teacher about Mr. Whitson. The teacher was appalled. “He shouldn’t have tricked you like that,” he said. I looked that teacher right in the eye and told him he was wrong.

 

 

 

我遇到的最好的老师

 

    惠特森先生教六年级的自然课。第一堂课,他给我们讲了一种无法适应冰期气候而灭绝的夜行性动物,叫作“乌有猫”。他边讲边让我们传着看一个头盖骨。我们都做了笔记,随后还进行了一次测验。

卷子发下来时,我惊诧不已。每道题都给画上了大大的红“×”。我没及格。一定是搞错了!我是完全按照惠特森先生讲的来答题的呀。接着我发现全班没一个人及格。怎么回事?

原因很简单,惠特森先生向我们解释道,他讲的乌有猫那一套东西都是无中生有编出来的。从来就没有过这么一种动物。我们记下来的笔记当然也是无稽之谈。既然都错了,还指望及格吗?

不用说,我们为此忿忿不平。这叫什么考试?还有这种老师?

惠特森先生说,我们本该可以识破这一点的。因为就在他让我们传看那只头盖骨(其实是只猫的头骨)的时候,他不是说这种动物灭绝之后没发现任何遗迹吗?那么他讲的那些惊人的夜视能力、皮毛的颜色等等,又是从何知晓的呢?他还给这臆造的动物起了一个荒唐的名字,可我们依然没有看出破绽。他说,我们这次得的零分要记入成绩册。他果真说到做到。

惠特森先生说,他希望我们能从中汲取教训。老师和课本都不是一贯正确的。其实,谁都会犯错。他告诉我们,不要让自己的脑子睡大觉去,如果我们认为老师或课本上讲的东西有误,就该提出来。

惠特森先生的每节课都像历险一般。我对几堂自然课记忆犹新。一天,他对我们讲他的大众轿车是一个有机生物。我们花了整整两天时间反驳他。直到我们不仅证明了我们知道何为有机体,而且证明了我们坚持真理的决心与毅力之后,他才作罢。

我们把新学来的怀疑主义应用到其它课堂上去,可苦了那些不习惯被质疑的老师们。有时当历史老师讲到某个历史事件的时候,台下会有一片咳嗽清嗓子的声音,然后还会有人说“乌有猫”。

如果有人问我任何解决现有教育的危机,我所能提出的答案将是惠特森先生。我并未做出什么重大的科学发现,但惠特森先生教给我和我的同学们同等重要的东西,那就是无畏地正视人们并向他们指出错误的勇气。同时他还让我们知道这样做其乐无穷。

并非每个人都能看出此中的价值所在。我曾经向一位小学教师讲起惠特森先生的故事。他着实吃了一惊,说道“他不该这样戏弄你们。”我直视那位老师的双眼,告诉他他错了。

 

 

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