Millennial Life: Trust - A Tale of Two Teachers
I don't remember his name anymore. But if I can put the memories in the right order, he was known for teaching the shop class more than any other subject. However, that semester we sat in a converted computer class with the carpentry tools pushed to the walls and learned computer-aided design, or CAD, in seventh grade.
I loved computers ever since I was little, perhaps even more than I do now. I loved them because everything seemed mystical when you used them, a portal to another world. I also loved the grunt of the dot matrix printers, and rumor had it that the printer for the CAD class had little arms that would stretch over the paper and draw lines of different colors. The rumors were correct. I would stand nearby watching it and the teacher would look at me like he was thinking, "This kid isn't quite right in the head."
The assignments weren't anything earthshaking. This was middle school design and semi-coding in the 90s. Could we program a square, please? But one of the best lessons of my entire academic career came from someone who I doubt ever really knew my name.
To preface, I've never been good with math. The worst lessons were the two trains racing toward certain doom on the same tracks at different speeds, and you had to find the time when the disaster would happen. Except, I had different thoughts staring glumly at the worksheet: Had someone called the trains? Can we divert the tracks? Why aren't we thinking outside the looming disaster box here?
I also skipped all of sixth grade due to scoliosis surgery and discovered -- moving through continents and schools after I recovered -- that it seems that all fractions had been taught throughout the world only in sixth grade.
My teachers did not entertain my frustrations, especially in math, because I did not voice them. I started voicing questions the older I got, but most were still partly swallowed by a nagging internal fear. So, it was my mumbling that confronted the shop teacher who taught CAD. He gruffly asked me to repeat myself after I got his attention.
"I ... just ...I ... think I should divide those two fractions, but I'm not sure," I said.
He looked me in the eye. "Trust yourself."
He walked away.
I don't know, but a lot of times, I still think of that man. The idea of trusting myself as a child was novel. There are myths built around the idea of confidence, the one so confident that they just snap up friends and accolades as they go, but not much is ever taught about creating that trust in yourself. Sometimes there's a conundrum on both trusting the silence inside you, but also the small voice that knows more if you just let it be without all the outside voices drowning it out.
Even now, the idea of trusting myself as an adult can still feel hard. It's not just a responsibility to make the right call for me, but also to make a good decision for my kids. It's doing the right thing at work. It's the desire to navigate the right course for relationships. And there are always detractors trying to bring you down.
Years later, I worked on a university campus and decided to take classes with a co-worker. The previous semester, I graduated with my master's in rhetoric, so wouldn't it be fun to take a class for fun and free thanks to my job, with no pressure? Let's learn how to write fiction from a professor I had seen speak and who wrote like me. Surely, it would be fun.
Except that teacher decided to tell my co-worker and me that we weren't cut out for his class because we weren't fiction writers, but rather simple rhetoricians. I still think about him, the lesson he taught, and remember his name. By then, I trusted myself and walked out of his class.
Cassie McClure is a writer, wife/mama/daughter, fan of the Oxford comma, and drinker of tequila. Some of those things relate. She is also the Executive Director of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about Cassie McClure and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.Copyright 2021 Creators Syndicate Inc.