BELGRADE LAKES, Me. — My favorite teacher in high school was a man named Robert Ulysses Jameson, a terrifying, red-faced man whom the students called “Chopper.” Chopper yelled at us if we said things that were stupid. If our stupidity persisted, he’d throw us out of the classroom by pointing to the door and saying, “Out!” Sometimes he threw us out one by one, and on other days he threw us all out at once. One by one was worse.
Behind that crotchety exterior was a man who loved the cello, American literature and us. You didn’t have to dig too far to find his loving side, either; you simply had to give him your best.
I’m not sure if I feel that “getting Chopped” (as we called it) is the best pedagogical strategy for all students, but it worked with me. After a year of Chopper, I became a better writer and a more critical reader. As I look back over a lifetime of learning, I still credit Chopper with having woken me up from the sleep I’d been in until 10th grade.
This piece was written by GLAAD board member Jenny Boylan.