When I was in high school in Livingston I was in an advanced mathematics class. I have no idea how I got there as I was clearly the dumbest kid in the class.
Sat next to me in the class was a guy (Keith Wilson) who spent his spare time (at 14 years old) working for a company converting the program code for an arcade computer game to a home version. He used to hand in his homework on a floppy disk…
Me? I was drawing sharks on the back of my notebook…
So while studying quadratic equations, (something that has been oh-so-useful in my life…) it was clear that I didn’t understand it. I asked the teacher to go over it again. He sighed an exasperated sigh – but he went over it again.
I still didn’t get it.
So I asked again. The teacher sighed loudly and said “Okay – the rest of you take a five minute break while I go over this again for Alwyn’s benefit …..” and then mumbled “for whatever good that will do”
Obviously I felt pretty small at that point. And of course the whole class heard him and laughed.
And I still didn’t get it.
And I never asked a question to this teacher again.
And I failed the exam for the class.
This teacher was a man who had a chance to make a kid feel better and help him, or put him down and make him feel worthless. He chose the latter. Why? Just because he could. That’s the kind of person he was.
Another person in my life was my Taekwon-do instructor – Derek Campbell. My Dad was made unemployed and we could no longer afford lessons. I went to my instructor and told him that we just couldn’t afford lessons anymore and I’d be back when my Dad got a job.
He told me to show up early for the next class and become his assistant – teaching beginners. He would pay me with free lessons.
I went on to become a fourth degree black belt, and seven time UK national champion as a result.
This teacher was also a man who had a chance to make a kid feel better and help him, or put him down and make him feel worthless. He chose the former. Why? Just because he could. That’s the kind of person he was.
One person changed a kids life and made it worse. One person changed a kid’s life and made it better. I remember both of them.
We have all had, and remember these people in our lives – the only question to ask is …
What kind of person are you?