The Best Teacher I’ve Ever Had

31 March 2015. New York, NY

“Who was the best teacher you’ve ever had?”

The question was posed to me as part of an interview. I was sitting in the The Flatiron School’s headquarters in New York. They were about to embark on a massive initiative to teach high school students how to code in 6 cities around the US during the summer; I was going to see how I could help.

I regularly lead for The Flatiron School’s adult programs. I help the students in their immersive programs learn how to communicate the skills they are learning so they can network, interview, and talk with colleagues more effectively.

And I’m a big believer in teaching kids to program. Even if they never become a developer, learning to program is learning a strategic way to thinking. It’s like improv, I think everyone should do it regardless of vocation or occupation.

Due to my passion for programming and my new nomadic life style, we were seeing how I might be involved. Unfortunately based on my schedule I wasn’t able to do much, but it still left me with this interesting question, “Who was the best teacher I’ve ever had?”

I’ve been very fortunate to have some incredible teachers in my life. Mrs. Kinney, my 5th and 6th grade teacher in middle school taught me it wasn’t enough to just be smart, you had to work hard as well. Mrs. Sherman, my 7 grade English teacher taught me to have high expectations for myself. Mr. Ferris, my 12th grade Theory of Knowledge teacher taught me to be inquisitive about the world.

But the best teacher I’ve ever had was my brother, David.

My mom likes to say the reason I did so well academically was that David, 2 years older than me, would come home and teach me everything that he learned in school.

And it was true, David always liked to share new things with me, though they weren’t always things he learned in school. It seemed that if David ran out of things to teach, he would just start making things up.

I’d then go spouting it off as fact and would learn that it was just fiction. As it turns out, there is no such thing as a “take off” bird. Birds typically don’t need to run on the ground for long distances in order to get enough speed to fly, nor do they come in and hit the group running when landing, like an animalistic airplane.

But whether what he taught was fact or fiction, he was very good at it.

Given my brother’s passion and skill for teaching, it’s no surprise that he’s now a professor at Texas A&M, where he consistently ranks as one of the top professors in the Communication department.

Here’s to hoping he’s just sticking to the facts with his students though.

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