In high school, I was fortunate enough to be in a regular US History class with a teacher that was truly inspiring. She was one of those teachers that actually loves what she teaches and isn’t jaded by students who don’t care. Nor was she falling prey to my school’s desire for better state exam scores and only teaching us how to pass the exam.
She was the first person to tell me that I didn’t have to believe everything my parents believed. That it was a good thing to educate myself and form my own opinions based on what I had learned and experienced. Growing up near Dallas gave me unique experiences that my parents weren’t given. My parents grew up in a town of at most 100,000 people and they were in the biggest town/city for several hours’ drive. I remember that we had been discussing political affiliations and she asked me why I believed what I did; she didn’t accept the answer “Because it’s what my parents believe.” Not that she was trying to sway my beliefs, she was simply trying to get us to think.
My high school was pretty easy. They wanted to reduce dropouts and increase state exam scores. That was done primarily at the cost of actually educating us. The only classes that gave real work were classes that didn’t have the yearly exams, which leaves foreign languages almost entirely alone. Most of the teachers there didn’t seem terribly concerned with educating us (unless it was an advanced placement class). My US History teacher was one of the first to actually tell me to question life and what I think I know. That questioning, learning, and formulating my own opinions was a key to success. I honestly don’t know where I would be without her.