Friday, June 08, 2012

Take a Teacher

Dedicated to the memory of my grandfather Lester Seinfeld, whose yahrzeit was this week.
(To dedicate a future Table Talk, send an email.)

In my grandfather's memory, and in honor of the end of the school year, here's a story and question for your table.

It was a sunny August afternoon, some weeks before my freshman year of college.

My grandparents were visiting and my grandfather cornered me in the family room.

I remember that I was browsing the old Penguin paperbacks that lined the white bookcase. These were my mother's college texts that she displayed like family heirlooms.

"I have one word of advice for you before you go to college," he announced.

"One word?"

"One word."

I could hardly believe it. This was great. This was going to be one of those moments that I'd be able to tell my own grandchildren about, and better yet, to blog about.

I waited for the word. He had already started to stoop slightly, yet had exchanged his old-man dark-framed glasses for lighter, youthful frames.

He wasn't in a hurry. He was smiling, pausing for dramatic effect. Finally came "the word":

"Don't take courses."

OK, that's interesting. Are we having a senior moment, or is there a punchline. I raised an eyebrow or two and waited. Then came the punchline:

"Take teachers."

"Take teachers?"

"With the most interesting subject in the world and a bad teacher, you won't learn a darn thing. But with the most boring subject in the world and a good teacher, you'll learn everything."

I was thrilled. After 18 years of grandfatherly advice, there was finally something that made sense to me.

I followed that advice, in college and beyond, and it never failed me.

If there was a good teacher in your child's life this year, or even a mediocre teacher, please don't forget to thank them. Gifts are unnecessary, but thank yous mean a lot. Good teaching is hard work. They don't have to be perfect to deserve our appreciation.

Question for your table: Who were the best teachers in your life? Did you ever thank them?

Shabbat Shalom

PS - This 11-year-old Miami Hebrew school student was seen in SF this week...

Iphone app:
Android version:

Bar and Bat Mitzvah gift suggestions at (a service of JSL).

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