In a classic episode of Boy Meets World, a teacher is defined as "someone a student can trust. The second a teacher uses pressure on a student for any reason whatsoever, other than academic, that trust is destroyed." It is a harsh reality to learn that an authority figure meant to be a beacon of guidance may not always be the Mr. Feeny to your Cory. Some teachers still have plenty to learn themselves, even when it is far too late. But there are also some teachers who are plain monsters. The following former students took to Quora and Reddit to look back on the moment they lost respect for a teacher.
"In the twelfth grade, we had a math teacher who we used to respect a lot. He was great at the subject, humorous, and good at conduct. I think every class had that one person whom every other student hates, and we did have that one 'girl.'
She once started spreading a statement about our math teacher, saying, 'He is such a creep. He tries touching my leg from under the desk, longingly, when I ask him to clarify my questions. He even flirts with me.'
We ripped her apart about it, thinking it to be really gross and false. That was the extent to which we respected him and loved him. Everything was fine after we passed high school until me, my friend, and two other girls from our class received friend requests from the math teacher on Facebook. The beginning was great, as we felt really nostalgic and it was great to speak to him after a long time. We exchanged WhatsApp numbers and started having casual talks once in a while.
Then, he started speaking to us differently. He would flirt and speak really gross. He would ask us to come to the school when nobody would be there, etc. It turned out that this happened to the other girls, too. It hit us really hard. All at once, we lost all respect for him. We felt really sorry for that girl who was actually right. Now, all we do is ignore the teacher's messages.
This is one such thing that totally changed the way I assumed people to be."
"My college teacher texted casually with her favorite students. She was not the first teacher I have had who did this. Normally it wouldn't bother me. I do not care what people do in their free time. That was until she let those favorite students of hers interrupt the class by texting her. She would literally stop in the middle of a lecture to pull out her phone, then respond verbally in the middle of class to the student who texted.
I paid money for this crap? Hey, maybe this is why the school refuses to give you that full-time position you've been wanting. It was not as if every student got her number, either. We all had her office number, but her personal cell was only given to the ones interrupting class.
She also approved of a topic I chose to write on, then took points off when she graded because she had apparently changed her mind about my subject. I made darn sure in advance that it was OK because it was a potentially questionable topic. When I brought it to her attention that she had approved, she basically said she forgot and my topic was stupid anyway. Obviously, I'm paraphrasing, but it is alarmingly close to what she said."
"I had always disliked my gym teacher for reasons I know well inside me. As a side note to show his imbecilic side, he used to make fun of my weight in front of 40 cruel, merciless kids by screaming out the number at weigh-in even though I begged him not to. He did that to me. Only me.
Recently, he rose from 'dislike' to 'you-don't-even-deserve-respect-jerk' level, in just minutes.
It was during gym class in the morning. I tried wearing my gym tops and bottom and tried ignoring creepy remarks from the boys. You know, boys will always be boys. I just rolled my eyes at every 'I-wanna-shove-[insert item]-up-your-rear-end' comment. We were playing basketball. Halfway through the game, I had had enough of the constant whistles from the boy's court - we were separated according to gender. I stormed up the hill and texted random people. I was feeling really terrible but still decided to join back the game towards the end.
I heard this girl whom I was once friends with. Her name was Jane. Jane was a cutter. Her arms were filled with scars, pink and white ones. Some were red and sore. She recently came back to school after dealing with family and other issues. A few days prior, her left leg was cut by the binder of her workshop booklet. It was really, really deep. I had to drag her down to the office to get her leg wrapped up in gauze.
On this day, while playing basketball, I had accidentally smash-dunked the freaking ball into her injured leg. As she limped outside of the court, I asked her if she was alright. The jerk gym teacher came over. His face was an odd shade of gray. He told me to step aside, so I went across the court to the other end. Then, his face went red and slowly evolved into crazy lines of anger.
He raised his voice. I didn't hear the entire conversation, but I could guess what he was talking about from what I witnessed.
'Do your parents know?!?' he asked her.
She meekly nodded.
'You're a disgrace to wear the uniform with cuts all over your left arm!'
She lowered her head. After more of his muffled shouting, she looked to the right, uncomfortably.
'Do you understand?!?' he asked, followed by more screaming. His loud booming voice overtook my head. She blinked away her tears, silently, as the circle of girls tried to keep their eyes away from the commotion. At that point, I couldn't take it anymore. I just walked off the court and onto the hill. Was I triggered? Perhaps. I texted a friend some really worrying things.
I was a coward for not standing up for her against the terrifying gym teacher. I was beyond angry. I don't even know why is everyone forced to greet him since he does not deserve such respect. Whatever remaining shreds of respect I was obliged to give him vanished. He is not fit to be called a teacher.
Going back to class, I saw Jane silently walking to the toilet with damp toilet paper around her left wrist. She wasn't fine. I wasn't either. I brought her to the toilet and then gave her a little privacy. I somehow could feel her empathizing with me that the gym teacher was an absolute jerk. No words could describe how shocked I was and how much respect (if any) I had lost for the gym teacher."
"All my life, I have been a teacher's pet. All my teachers have loved me and are primarily responsible for me being the person that I am. I have huge deal of respect for them. Growing up, I never had a male teacher. The only male teacher I ever had was my gym teacher.
When I started college, I had a male teacher. He was a very young guy in his mid-20s. I will call him 'MJ.' Since he was a young man, obviously, all the students could connect with him better. He had instantly become our favorite. He would swear in the class, crack jokes and taught very well. All the swearing and foul language looked cool to us, because we were naive and stupid. Given the kind of nerd I was, I, obviously, spoke to him a lot and asked a lot of questions. He was very friendly initially.
Over time, a particular gang of students, who detested me, became very close to MJ and would often hang out with him after class. They went partying with him. I soon began to notice a change in MJ's attitude toward me. He would avoid eye contact and would try to ignore my questions.
What happened next made him fall in my eyes immediately. I had a lot of respect for this guy, and none existed anymore. This information came from a friend who was also a part of that gang that detested me. Apparently, that group told him that I was in love with him. That was the reason he was avoiding me and would ignore my questions in the class.
As a teacher and a mentor to your students, it becomes your responsibility to treat every student equally and hear them out. He blindly believed a rumor spread by a group of students just because they had issues with me. The kind of stupid girl that I was felt disgusted, and I still do, that a teacher had such a low opinion of me. He had, obviously, sidelined me because he believed in sick and disgusting rumors spread by a group of people. But I know that I am not the one to be ashamed by this incident. It is the teacher and his 'friends' who should be ashamed of themselves.
Eventually, 90% of the students in the class began hating him since he was clearly biased and treated that group of students differently. He did them a lot of favors. Now that I am a little more mature, I do not find it cool when a teacher swears or uses foul language. What makes a teacher cool for me now is their conduct and how inspiring they are for his students. Later on in college, I had the privilege of meeting great teachers who are my closest friends even today. That incident was definitely an eye opener."
"When I was in college in Bangalore, India, we had this teacher with immense knowledge in her subject. On the very first day of her class, she talked about the environment and her passion for saving it. I instantly started admiring her. Right before our first internal exam, my friend and I went to her cabin to clear our doubts. After we were done, she started talking to my friend.
'You are from which state?' our teacher asked.
'Bihar,' my friend replied.
'So, is this your first time living in Bangalore?'
'No, ma'am. My brother has been staying here for almost six months now. I come here often to stay with him.'
'What is he doing here?'
'Working as a software engineer. He is still trying to adjust though, with the language barrier and everything. He is trying to learn a bit of it though.'
'Tell him to go back to his own state. People like you can only learn Bihari. You eat Karnataka food and drink Kaveri water, but don't even bother learning our language.'
That was the moment I instantly lost respect for her. Her knowledge didn't matter anymore. One should not assume that just because a person is from Bihar that he is good for nothing and cannot ask a person to go back to his own state just because he is unable to speak the local language fluently.
All throughout the semester, I watched her call students from outside Karnataka in front of the class and insult them when they were unable to understand what she said in Kannada or make mistakes while trying to speak in it. These were just 18-year-old kids. Most of them were living in an absolutely new city away from their parents for the first time. I saw her being lenient with people and give them better grades just because they were from Karnataka.
We had Kannada as a compulsory subject in our first semester. We were all trying to learn it, but it is impossible to speak in it in just a few months or be as fluent in it as locals were who have learned it throughout their lives. Sometimes, even after knowing it, it was difficult to understand the locals because of their accent.
One should not make a person feel like an outsider in his or her own country. The fact that she was a teacher made it worse."
"In the sixth grade, I had a teacher who was from the Netherlands. On the first day of school, as he was putting us into our seats alphabetically, he skipped my name. We were off to a great start.
He was an awful teacher. We basically got to talk all day, without a word from him. Then, out of nowhere, he gave out detentions. We kind of stuck to the description of 'good guy, bad teacher.' And a bad teacher he continued to be.
Once at a parent-teacher conference, the parents of one child named Eli came in and he said, 'So, we're here to talk about your son.'
'We don't have a son,' they replied.
Again, bad teacher. However, he ceased to be a bad guy. I had little respect for him when this happened:
One day in art class, we were illustrating our names like one of those Google doodles. Eli's art was not the best. She had made a few mistakes but, overall, it looked fine. She turned it in, and (really not a surprise) my teacher lost it.
A week later, he called the names that still had to turn in their artwork. Eli was one of them, but she had turned it in, and politely informed him of this. He said that she did not turn it in and threatened to give her an F. She lost all her patience.
'No!' she pleaded, 'you lost it!'
"It doesn't matter if I lost it,' he retorted. 'Your art is ugly, just like the rest of the class. Now go sit down.'
Needless to say, he was fired. Eight students left the school because of him and everyone in the class had lost any respect they had left for him."
"We had almost 40 students in a class, all girls, thanks to Andhra Pradesh's (a state in Southern India) intermediate education business. Ours is a residential college in which classes would be conducted on the first floor and the next three floors of our building were our hostel.
One day, we all were attending Sanskrit class. The class was good. We had been told a mythological story. One of our friends experienced something strange. She was uncomfortable, with muscle cramps and stomach pain. She was unsure if she had just entered that time of the month. Now what to do? As it was our Sanskrit class, she excused herself to use the restroom.
All of sudden, our Sanskrit teacher asked her what happened. She stood up to reveal that her dress was stained. The very next moment, the teacher alerted all of the students to not to touch her, to stay away from her, and ordered the girl to attend the class only after taking a bath.
Really, ma'am? I wanted to ask. What made her impure? What made you behave in a way that embarrassed this girl?
She was already embarrassed about herself, thanks to our society and its age-old stupid beliefs. Why the heck did she still make her more uncomfortable? That would have been the time when she should have expected love and care from her loved ones. If one cannot show love, they should just shut their mouths and move on, but never embarrass someone just because she is a girl. My friend, the poor girl, had no option other than to obey her. I really don't understand why she needed to create such an issue embarrassing the girl, just because she is a girl.
I lost her respect then and there, but this was just one of many such incidents."
"From a very early age, I have had an affinity for art and sketching. When I was in middle school, my parents made me take art lessons. These lessons were kind of weekend extra classes taught by my school's art teacher. I will call him 'Mr. X.' These lessons took place at Mr. X's home where he stayed with his newly-married wife.
Mr. X was a darn good artist and quite successful at that. He had organized exhibitions throughout the country and abroad. At the time, this was quite a big deal for an artist from a remote town like ours. Needless to say, I had immense respect for Mr. X and also saw him as a role model.
On quite a few occasions, I had overheard people talking about how stingy Mr. X was when it came to personal interactions. Of course, that did not change my attitude toward him. Belonging to a middle class family, I had been taught that sometimes being stingy is good and helps inculcate better saving habits. Also, as a kid, I thought people said such things because they may have been jealous of Mr. X's talent and success.
On the fateful day, weekend art classes were going on as usual. There were about 10-15 students. It was the birthday of Mr. X's wife. We had planned earlier that we would surprise Mr. X and his wife. However, all of us were 10 to 12-year-old kids. We had a very limited allowance. We pooled our money to buy birthday cards, balloons, and chocolates to gift her. Some kids also prepared hand-drawn messages.
As the class continued, suddenly, all of us asked Mr. X, 'Sir, where is Ma'am?'
'She is inside,' X told us. 'Why do you ask?'
'Sir, can you please ask Ma'am to stop whatever she is doing and ask her to come out now.'
'OK. Wait.' He then shouted out to his wife, 'Honey, come outside for two minutes. The kids want to tell you something.'
After Mrs. X arrived, we all wished her a Happy Birthday.
'Why thank you,' she said, as Mr. X smiled behind her. 'So lovely of you kids.'
We gave her the cards and chocolates. She thanked everyone and pulled the cheeks of one or two kids referring to how sweet the gesture was. Then, she walked back inside like nothing happened.
Yes, she literally walked back inside and never came out. X also continued to teach as if nothing had ensued. Within an hour, the class was over and we were walking back home trying to mentally recreate what had just happened. That's right, X and his wife did not even have the decency to offer the kids some sweets or snacks for our gesture.
This may not seem like a big deal, but here in India, if someone is a guest at your house, you usually welcome the person with tea and snacks. If the person is there to wish you on an occasion with gifts, the bare minimum to do is to ask that guest to stay for lunch or dinner. For a 10-year-old kid, that was the most devastating, selfish and stingy act ever. I lost all respect for X and his wife that day."