October 17, 2008

ode to skov

ok, i realize some of you have no idea who skov is...but those that do will smile at this post.

skov was my junior year (high school) english teacher. he was one of the best teachers i've ever had. an extremely smart man (sometimes we wondered why he taught high school with his crazy smarts), he loved to question our beliefs. skov carried around a metal camping coffee cup. he'd sit in desks and bang his mug, or scrape it along the wall, shouting "think people!" in our teenage ignorance, we laughed and played along with his game. the funny thing is that his "game" taught me a great deal. i learned to read symbolism and delve below the surface of written words. i began to think critically about things, to question a deeper meaning, to really analyze things. skov had a knack for sparking conversation.

our class book was about 10 pounds and huge. i opted to leave it at home, so as not to lug it back and forth from school every day. a friend of mine took an extra book and kept it in her locker, every day during class we shared the book. every day, he ridiculed me for not bringing my own book. (i argued i was just smart). he questioned how i could carry all of my hockey equipment, but not my english book.

i was a captain of our hockey team, he held me responsible for the under classman hockey player's class performance. weekly i got updates or questions from him about the freshman class. he'd ask me to keep them in line.

he taught me how to organize my thoughts and write an appropriately developed paper. i used tricks and skills i learned in his class throughout college. he kicked the bottoms of desks when students fell asleep.

he enjoyed making under classmen squirm. he was a good guy, but he really enjoyed the drama that high school is. he raved about how poor an actor leonardo dicaprio is (during the release of Titanic). daily he compared the male heroin of some story to leo, he tried to make us girls fall in love with the character, using leo as his ploy. in response, his students brought in every picture we could find of leo, making a collage on skov's wall. he left it up for most of the year, making reference to it often (he pretended to be sick of it, i think he enjoyed our participation).

while reading crime and punishment, skov and i got into a heated discussion about symbolism. i saw one thing, he saw another. back and forth our conversation went, the entire class watching like a tennis match. finally, he hurled the dry erase marker at me. it left a nice blue slash across the shoulder of my hockey jersey. i continued to argue with him, he picked up his stool, suddenly i saw it his way.

skov enjoyed our questioning, he provoked it. he argued to keep the questioning going. he pushed our buttons, and we did our best to push back. i know a few students who thought he was a jerk. he certainly wasn't a hand-holder, but he taught us. i mean, he really taught us. it's been over 10 years since i sat in his classroom, i'm a member of the group "skov is a crazy genius" on facebook. when i look back at my academic career, he stands out as one of the top 3 best teacher influences on my life (the other two were college professors). thanks for making me think, skov. (yes, i know there are un-countable errors in my blog post.)

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