Maritza Brito's Learning Story


Mr. Jackson was my 12th grade English teacher. I was a slacker. Several of my previous teachers had confirmed that fact. Mr. Jackson never gave up on me. He never came close to an insulting comment or anything that I as a hypersensitive student could misconstrue as malintended. I was lazy in his class, but he gave me chances. He told me he wanted me to do well. I believed him. Not only did I believe that, I also believed that he believed that his subject was something truly special. We were reading Canterbury Tales, Macbeth, and many other writings. Mr Jackson didn’t just have us read Canterbury tales. We were in it. We became part of it. I remember creating monk costumes and parading around the school chanting Gregorian chants. He stayed over night at the school one night to roast a whole pig. Some students and their parents joined him to keep him company. The next day everybody brought in something for the feast and dressed as our characters we became a part of that story. That was amazing. He didn’t have to do any of that. Then came Shakespeare? I mean are you kidding me… I was way to cool for Shakespeare. Anyway that was going to be a lot of work figuring out what in the world that weirdo was talking about. I basically was refusing to read it. One day he called on me and I still don’t know what the question was. So I gave a ridiculous answer and waited to be humiliated. He gently responded, “Oh no, no, no, no, no.” Then he delightedly squealed in his (what we referred to as his) mad professor voice, “Oh I see.” And with the magic of his words he turned my nonsense into sense. Did I secretly get this Shakespeare? To this day I have a huge appreciation for Shakespeare… maybe even a love, from MacBeth to Romeo and Juliet, to his sonnets. Then came the kicker. The epitome of what Mr. Jackson taught us. Alexander Pope — you already know the quote don’t you? “A little learning is a dangerous thing; drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring: there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, and drinking largely sobers us again.”Mr. Jackson taught us to question, and to seek answers to those questions. Many other teachers focused only on getting us to sit down and shut up. They were happy if we didn’t fight in the class and just as long as we let those who wanted to learn, as long as we let the smart kids learn. Mr. Jackson saw us all as teachable. He never gave up on us. He was caring and creative. He loved and knew his subject. Most importantly, he didn’t teach to a bunch of kids who didn’t want to learn. He made you thirst for the knowledge that he had to offer. He made you question the obscure and the obvious. I am sure Mr. Jackson is no longer teaching but he has taught me lessons that will last for the rest of my life.