We had a male teacher for the extended Maths class and for Science, both subjects that I was taking. He did not approve of females taking these subjects. And he did not approve of working mothers – they should be at home.
So Mr R did not approve of my mother – why not “barefoot and pregnant” in the kitchen? And he did not approve of my choice of subjects.
There was one other girl in the Maths class who was perhaps marginally better than me, or at least she more often had higher mark on the tests. We sort of swapped who got the higher mark. The boys in the class hardly ever managed to beat us. In other words we were making waves by not sticking to the more traditional “girly” subjects.
Mr R tried to convince my mother that I was not able to do these subjects. With a Chemistry subject he told her that I would not succeed by learning by rote. Oops! I was never any good at learning by rote which is why History with names, dates and places was not my subject. The problem was that I had not understood that topic. I do not want to judge his skill as a teacher but was it a failure to explain well enough?
There was some conflict in my report at the end of Form 5 (year 11). Mr R suggested that I was not coping with the extended Maths. The teacher of the basic Maths commented that it was the exact opposite of his experience with my grasp of Maths. I now have a Bachelor of Science degree majoring in Maths.
There was a time in year 11 that he was not happy with me. We were conducting a Chemistry experiment. I forget all the details except that it involved a test tube and creating a gas. It required us to place a finger over the top of the test tube. My finger was not big enough so one of the boys held the test tube. He assumed I did not know what to do and told me not to rely on the boys. In fact I had been telling them what to do! When I explained the problem, he brushed aside the problem telling me to use something else on the top of the test tube. He never acknowledged that I knew what I was doing.
Mr R could not accept that girls could do the same as the boys, and sometimes actually do better.
'Making Waves' by being as good or better at what had been thought as the male subjects.