Mr Dee

Mr Dee was the most eccentric teacher I ever had, in high school or out, but as I have always suspected after reading through the bio in his death notice, for the best teachers it was always a pose to get through the day without falling into deep depression and insanity. He had a kind of madcap approach to teaching, starting the lesson the moment the first student entered the class as we were rotating between periods, which naturally had a series of studenten rushing off from the previous class not to miss a moment – not me I might mention. And he had these monstrous blackboards full of lists of obscure German words we would have to copy down of which the only one I remember to this day is damenhelden which he translated as “lady killer” which had a different connotation back in our more backward times (better translation might be a male hero to women which is a term that has no modern usage so far as I can tell). I have always used his term for a kind of idiotic mistake which I pronounce as “Flutekeitzfehler” which I loved the sound of which I made many.

But reading through the obit, what strikes me is that he was a classical man of deep wisdom and grace, which were aspects of his character we would never have noticed or appreciated. It is also a reminder of how expensive it once was to go off to Europe which only a handful could do at the time. I am probably today more like him than probably any of the other teachers we had, but what would I know? They may all have been like him with a love of classical music and the arts, but whose wonderful attributes were wasted on us back then when we were just fifteen years old.

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6 Responses to Mr Dee

  1. Megan

    But we’re they wasted? They may not have been appreciated at that age but they were most certainly not wasted.

    Our literature teacher was of Peter’s vintage and had his equally eccentric approach, flying into class with back gown flying, carrying a pile of books under his arm, disclaiming appropriate passages from Shakespeare to both amuse and insult us. At 15, I never ever thought I would say this, but I have a love of Shakespeare to this day, that has come directly from those wild and wicked moments.

  2. Megan

    Were…what the hell does autocorrect know about anything?

  3. Cam

    I had a teacher like this in grade 6. Last year of primary school. David Houghton. A born communicator and teacher. Ruled his class with wisdom and humour.
    To this day I remember his words and advice (30 years later).
    I know your post was in respect to your late Mr Dee. I didn’t intend to draw attention away from what a fine and memorable figure he was for you.
    I just wanted to let you know there were (and are still?) a few great teachers out there whom one always, always remembers and reveres.

  4. mareeS

    I had a series of mad teachers at my Catholic college, including our French teacher, Madame St Jacques, who had taken parted in the Sorbonne riots and refused to converse in English, our English teacher, Sister Anselmo, who would not allow Shakespeare’s ruder words to be uttered, Sister Christina who was brilliant in teaching Chemistry, Father Mulhearn who was a brilliant physics teacher in the most practical and involving way, Mrs Callaghan who had the maddest way of teaching senior maths, and sister Carmel who taught History, Latin and Yoga.

    I enjoyed every year at that college, everyone was interesting, we aced the HSC of 1972 as a school.

  5. Lutz

    Sorry, don’t mean to be pedantic: Flüchtigkeitsfehler (pronunciation-wise yours looks good). Comes from making small mistakes by rushing through something and not checking back for mistakes.
    Flüchtigkeit really means volatility.

  6. Steve Kates

    Dear Lutz. You have made my day! I tried everything I could think of to work out what the word exactly was and how to spell it in German. Many thanks or is that danke schön or perhaps danke vielmals. Whatever, I am really happy to know the exact word, its spelling and proper meaning.

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