I went into physics in large part because of my (now long-retired) physics teacher Mr. Perry. Gruff and tough, he made physics seem this fun thing that you could do if you worked hard at it. He was funny, and had good explanations, and we loved him. But in retrospect, I also think he didn’t serve me well, because even though he sparked my interest in physics, he made it about solving cookbook problems. I happened to be good at that, and loved writing my answer and boxing it at the bottom of the page, and then getting that nice fat red checkmark. I was a good student, but I was a good passive student. When I got to college, and to graduate school, I struggled. I wasn’t used to thinking things out for myself. I wasn’t used to things being difficult. I had no idea how to do an experiment. I didn’t really know, I realize now, what physics was.
A lot of us have stories like this, and now you can share them. In the month of May, Under the Microscope is sponsoring a project to get folks (like you!) to write report cards for their math and science teachers. It’s your turn to rate them — what did they do right? What did they do wrong? How did their influence guide your career, education, and life? If you haven’t heard of it, Under the Microscope is a nice little blog run by the Feminist Press about girls and science education (but this report card is open to all genders, I’m quite sure).