Touching With Teaching


Tuesday February 16th, 2010 – Lake Villa, IL

I don’t know why I enjoy teaching so much, but I totally do. I hated school. I remember counting down the hours of almost every day, and the days of almost every year, hoping it would all be over. It wasn’t the learning I couldn’t stand, it was what and how I learned.

I wanted to dive in to what I wanted to know, and most of that wasn’t what was on their agenda. Algebra and geometry couldn’t have been any more painful, and biology had only one redeeming quality in that there happened to be all the best looking girls in that class.

Creative things are what I enjoyed, and there weren’t nearly enough of those to begin to satisfy my needs. I remember in seventh grade we had a science project assignment where we had several weeks to complete a presentation on a topic. For whatever reason I picked the human heart, and I really got into it. I wanted to make mine the best presentation ever.

The actual topic didn’t make any difference at all. I wanted to focus on the show part of it. I remember making up all kinds of colorful drawings to show and my uncle suggested I make an audio presentation complete with background music and call it ‘A Tour Of Your Heart’. That was all I needed to hear, and I was totally in. On presentation day, I let it rip.

I’m not sure if it was so much that the other kids enjoyed it, but I remember applause as I finished. It was completely different from what everyone else did, and it entertained the class. I didn’t have to say one word, I just stood there pointing to the graphs and pictures I had arranged, and my voiceover with music behind it sounded great, at least in memory.

Maybe if I heard it now, I’d be embarrassed by how excruciating it was, but at the time I blew everyone away with it. The teacher gave me an ‘A+++’ and I don’t think I ever got a grade like that for anything else I ever did. Isn’t that what they give butter? I don’t know.

The point is, I really loved doing those kinds of things, but put me in front of an algebra book and I was through. I didn’t care then and I don’t now. I’m sure somebody has a need for it, if only algebra teachers to torture future generations. As for me, I’m done with it.

What made me think of all this was that I received several emails today thanking me for the comedy classes and graduation show last night at Zanies. They were a fantastic group and I really enjoyed them because they got what I was telling them. Seeing the light go on in a student’s head is very satisfying and I really enjoy seeing them go up and get laughs.

I guess it’s a lot like a sports coach. I know everyone in my classes doesn’t have to like me personally, and I don’t really care if they do. I want them to LEARN something, and if they do that, the personal part will follow. Seeing the students’ growth is very satisfying.

The mentoring part is satisfying too. I know how much I revere the memories of all my comedy mentors from C. Cardell Willis to Gary Kern to Jimmy Miller, and hopefully I’ll be able to occupy that special place those guys have in my heart in a whole lot of others.

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