Life of a Rooster

Memoirs of a psychiatrist, journalist and educator

High School Teachers

on June 5, 2015

Our teachers at the CMS were a mixture of Britons and Jordanians. As already mentioned, the English teacher was Scottish, and the history teacher was English. The math teacher, Miss Salah, was Jordanian. She had been sent to study in England on a scholarship with the provision that she had to teach at our school a number of years afterwards. She was everyone’s favorite, friendly and easy-going, without that “I know best” attitude that no teacher should have despite its prevailing preponderance in the teaching world.

I loved Math class because all of a sudden, it was easy again. After two years of battling worksheets by weight, we were suddenly faced again with easy problems and never more than a page of homework. One day, after the whole class agonized over some complicated problem, Miss Salah wrote out the solution on the board. Then Saadia (yes, we were back in the same classroom again) called her over, and there ensued a prolonged whispered conversation between the two. Miss Salah went back to the board, and told the whole class that Saadia had offered a different solution, and it was much shorter than her own. Good job!

good teacher

Now, this is what I call a good teacher. A teacher who slams down students has a deeply seated inferiority complex. She cannot allow her own deficiencies to be seen and treats all such people, even if they are little innocent ones, with hatred and aggressivity. But if teachers realize that no one is a walking encyclopedia and that teachers are merely guides or leaders, then they would not mind the occasional little voice piping up an answer better than their own, or a question they could not answer.

The Biology and Chemistry teacher was a shy and quiet Mr. Mouse. Actually his name was Mr. Far, which meant mouse or rat in Arabic. He lived up to his name and was generally soft-spoken and mild-mannered. The girls loved to tease him and make him blush, and would decide daily who he was in love with. Personally, I doubt he would be in love with any of those loud, silly and giggly teenagers, but such games are favorites among foolish young girls. He always ended the class by asking whether anyone had any question. One day, they pushed Saadia to ask him why knuckles made popping noises when cracked. He sensed a plot when everyone tried stifling giggles and simply said he didn’t know. I am told by classmates that they tried to embarrass him a lot when he had to teach the infamous Chapter 25, Reproduction. Frankly, I must have been blind and deaf, because I never noticed anything.

cracking knuckles

Neither did Roxy, the Pakistani girl, with whom I had become very close friends. Her name had been originally Rukhsana, which had been shortened to Roxy after her toddler pronunciation. It was later changed to Um Kulsum after the famous Egyptian singer, and that is what she was registered as, but she still preferred her old name, so we complied and called her Roxy.

The two of us came from equally conservative families and had not been told about the birds and the bees. So when one day during study hour we reviewed Chapter 25 together in view of a test, the question suddenly popped up.  After spermatogenesis (production of sperm) and after oogenesis (production of eggs), how did the two suddenly come to be together in the fallopian tube? Mr. Farr had conveniently skipped that section. We looked up the textbook. Hum! The textbook also omitted to tell us how. We pondered deeply and came to the conclusion that the sperm could have gotten in through the umbilicus. Still, how did it get from the umbilicus to the fallopian tube? Maybe by swimming inside the abdominal cavity? Then entering amid the fimbriae near the ovaries, just like the ova did after plopping out of the ovaries…

the birds and the bees

I turned around and called out to a group of our classmates who were “studying” or chatting as a group behind us.  One of them, a friendly round-faced blonde with an ample chest came to help us out. We shared our question. She looked at us in disbelief and giggled until that giggle bubbled out almost as a laughter. She pointed at the anatomical drawings and said, “This goes here.”  Then she left, still giggling, and probably sharing that unbelievable news with the rest of the class. Roxy and I just sat there, with eyes as big as saucers, mouths gaping, until finally one of us, I cannot remember which, finally said, “Ugh! Disgusting!”


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