The One Who Kept Me Going

Still cursing myself for stopping my New York Times subscription a month before the special Food & Drink and Education issues arrived (Full price? Me?!), I am also still working my way through the treasure trove of articles within — cobbled together as best I can from Twitter links and the Times Mobile app.

This piece, one of a growing sort of tapas-style journalism, was incredibly moving: in it, fifteen New Yorkers share brief meditations on their most influential teacher.  Here’s Wes Anderson, of Rushmore and Darjeeling fame:

He was nothing like our other teachers. For one thing, he was a man. The only man in the school who did not teach P.E. Also, he had a computer. I think he built it himself. His handwriting was neat but somehow exotic. He spoke briskly and seriously, and he pointed his finger at us a lot. It was immediately apparent that the range of his knowledge went far beyond anything we were ever going to touch on in class. He invented games for us. In the fall, we were each assigned countries that we represented in an international trade market. Wars were declared. Mineral deposits were discovered. Fortunes were made and lost. In the spring, he put up a poster on which he had pasted a hundred faces cut out of newspapers and magazines. All semester we searched for clues and slowly learned who they were, but he had to finally give us Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. (This was in pre-algebra, by the way.)

The Visionary Professor may be a cliche, but it’s still an inspiring one.  I wish I were Mr. Burris — or, failing that, that he would come and teach me.