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I've had a lot of teachers who, due to one trait or another, seem to poke their heads up in the waving, undulating crowd I see when peering into my past. Most of them were bad, but many had positive traits as well. Mr. Sharp was a embodiment of everything I found good in teachers, a living pantheon of teaching gods stuffed into a single individual.

Mr. Sharp taught world history when I went to high school. His style was revolutionary. His scores were based only on the tests and a few projects. Your time in his class was still your time to read, doze off, or anything that didn't disturb the other students, and if you could conquer the test even without paying attention or doing homework, then you passed. He spent his time teaching those who were interested in learning instead of harping on those who didn't or felt they already had the scoop. He also seemed to be of the opinion, like the protagonist in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenence, that testing and scoring the students on the material wasn't so important as simply expanding their little minds.

To prove that he found the scoring unimportant, he would devote every Friday to an extra credit exercise in which he would read trivia questions, rotating around the class. If you couldn't answer the question, he would then pick someone else from a show of hands to give it a shot. If you did answer it, I believe you got something like ten points and the option to go double or nothing, which you could keep doing until you answered incorrectly.

Mr. Sharp displayed a wild irreverance toward the administration and the school system. He would read the faculty announcements, teachers eyes only, to the students every day, sprinkling them with intermittent comments or jokes aimed at the administration or simply laughing out loud at what he read. There were often notices for faculty meetings in there. Mr. Sharp would always talk about how boring these were and whenever one came up, he'd tell us how overjoyed he was that he would not be there. He also kept a big super soaker water gun by his desk, to spray student messengers from the main office, yelling "YES!" every time he nailed one. I, among others being quite lazy, owed my A to this very practice, going double or nothing sometimes four or five in a row.

I don't know if he's still teaching there, but I know that anyone who's had his class will never forget him. You who teach the young people of the world, remember Mr. Sharp's message, it is easier to teach people who can relate to you. Push on teenagers and they'll push away harder.

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