with on any given situation. Max’s value to the class was in providing teaching moments.
Some teachers believe they have to follow the plan they laid out the night before and not let any event change the schedule. If a teacher knows his/her students well, they can use the curiosity students bring to class to make learning an exciting experience.
Harry and the Hammer “Up until the day I meandered into and sat down in Mr. Briscoe’s class,positive attitude, enthusiasm, and energetic motivation were just empty words to
me. Within a few days the typical template that applied to the overwhelming majority of my prior teachers’ image was shattered by the brash enthusiasm that he brought to his lessons. It was obvious that he was intentionally interjecting passion into his presentations so as to hopefully reach out and affect his students in a positive way. I was a victim!
“History and American Problems have remained very relevant to my life since my exposure in his classroom. Much more important was his assistance in helping to instill into my personal fabric a passion to energetically embrace a positive attitude for the task at hand. Any undertaking can be fulfilling and
rewarding when tackled with an enthusiastic attitude.
“There were many events that routinely occurred in Mr. Briscoe’s classroom that contradicted the typical, mundane approach to education. Two such occurrences stand out in my mind. Educational films were part of the
curriculum I looked forward to with anticipation. The material was actually fairly informative. Also the anonymity of darkness allowed students to make uninvited
comments about what we were viewing. I loved to join in. I don’t recall the film or my comment, but I vividly remember my teacher’s reaction to my heckling.
“He flipped on the light switch and rushed to his desk. The film was still playing. He pulled out a hammer from the drawer and proceeded to charge down the aisle-way headed directly toward me with it raised in a menacing way and shouted, ‘I have had just about enough of you.’ Linda was seated just behind me. She jumped out of her seat and let out a loud, piercing ‘Nooo-ooo!’
“Her high-pitched voice stopped you dead in your tracks. The classroom door was thrown open and another teacher asked, ‘Is everyone okay?’ You assured him it was part of the lesson plan and not to worry.
“On another occasion a female student folded her arms on her desk and went to sleep during the film. The light came on and we discussed the essence of the movie. Vera, the sleeping girl, had not moved. When it came time for the bell to ring you got a towel and held it over the bell so she would not hear it.
You had us all tip-toe out and cautioned the incoming class to come in very quietly.”
Vera slept all the way through the next class and didn’t wake up until the period after that one. She was so dazed that it took her a little time to determine whether she was till dreaming or where she was.
“The next day you brought a pillow and laid it on Vera’s desk. She was a good sport and we all had a good laugh.”
Brad came from a home with limited income. When he went out for the baseball team, the coach found him an old pair of sneakers and an old baseball glove that he could call his own. He was greased lightning on the field,
whether it was baseball, football, or on the basketball floor. Although he had speed, maybe his greatest athletic attributes were his hands. If a ball was thrown or hit to a location where his legs could get him within striking distance, rarely did he ever not come down with his target.
He was shooting three-pointers and making them long before there was a three-point line. He was a difference-maker! When he was a junior we had a tough game with Clearfield High, a perennial power at basketball for a few years.
Brad was okay as a student, but not an ‘A’ student. We had to play Clearfield on their home court and they had been state champs the year before. I told Brad in front of the class, “If we beat Clearfield tonight, you get and ‘A’ for the term.”
Guess what? He had a great game, and we won. Whenever I meet Brad, it is his first memory he shares with me. It had an impact on him.
“Your class was very interesting; you were always thinking up games that we played in class that were related to the subject. You asked good questions that required us to think.
“I had a hard time studying and was afraid of most classes, but in your class I was anxious to get there. You made people defend their point of view.
Everyone seemed to be involved and there were good debates in your class. I read
a lot of books in your class. I remember Atlas Shrugged, Gulag Archipelago, and
Shrier’s book on Hitler.
“I always thought there were people who did not like me and you helped me out of that thinking.” (I think he was a popular kid, but each person has to make his own assessment about how they view themselves.) One time he came to me with a dilemma that has faced many a lover.
He was dating two girls. They were both darling and I thought looked a lot alike.
In my judgment, both were pursuing him. He came to me one day and asked my counsel, “Mr. Briscoe which girl should I take to the school dance?”
I got right to the point, “Which one do you enjoy being with the most?”
He dropped his chin and reflected for a few seconds and answered, “The one I’m with.” That was a problem with which I was not equipped to help.
“On Senior Sluff Day you organized an athletic tournament so we could decide who was the best athlete. We divided into teams for two sports (basketball and touch football) and individually competed in bowling and tennis. I won by one point.”