Surviving the scary teacher


Take your mind back to your school days and you’ll probably remember that one teacher who everyone was scared of.

I was lucky to have skipped the generation of students who would be caned or klapped if you misbehaved, but this didn’t mean that some of our teachers didn’t scare the living day lights out of us.  

Read more: "Ouma, what was school like in your day?"

For me, it was our Science teacher. She reminded us of Miss Trunchbull (minus the kiddie hammer-throwing, although we wouldn’t have put it past her). She was as crazy as a bag of cats and we were petrified of her.

One minute she’d be mixing formulas and passionately introducing us to the idea that matter is composed of atoms and molecules, the next minute she’d be slamming her fists down on the counter while shouting about the effect that gravity has on the world.  

Keeping kids in line

She was completely unpredictable, but she kept us on our toes.

Scientific concepts are hard to grasp and in a way, perhaps our Science teacher’s choice of teaching was better for some of us. She certainly made sure we all understood what she would teach us and if we didn’t we’d go home and revise our workbooks until we did.  

Most parents these days would be shocked if they witnessed the way some of our old-school teachers went about educating young minds. No one wants to see their precious angel being spoken to like anything other than a delicate little rose by someone else.

Preparing you for the future

As I approach my 30s I can recall numerous occasions and people that made me think back to my Science teacher; intimidating employers who often made me want to quit, the traffic officer who examined my driving test and made my leg shake with fear when he said “I’m not in a good mood today so you’d better get this right” to the immigrations control officer at Gatwick airport who had no time for anyone’s disorganised or disrespectful manners.  

I’m not at all condoning members of authority who talk down on others or behave in a way that is neither necessary nor dignified, there definitely is a line. But in many instances in my life I’ve wanted to thank my strict school teachers for preparing me for future encounters with other “scary” people.

For me, those teachers who we were all afraid of in school have had an influence on some very important milestones in my life after school.

Lessons learned

It taught me not to quit my job just because my boss was a bit hardcore. It taught me to push past the nerves I felt sitting next to the grumpy traffic officer and pass my driver’s test.

And as for the intimidating immigrations officer, where as much as I wanted to ask what the hell was causing her to be such a grumpy, old (insert derogatory profile description) I resisted the temptation and responded to her interrogations in the same way I would have to my school teachers; respectfully (even though I wanted to smack her face). I can’t say for sure but I’m sure this could only have contributed to me being allowed through the gate with a stamp in my passport. 

Do you think strict teachers are necessary for a child's development? Send us your comment to

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
The ANC's leadership race is heating up. Who do you think will be elected party president at Nasrec in December?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has got it in the bag
7% - 722 votes
I foresee a second term for Cyril Ramaphosa
83% - 8501 votes
Don’t discount a Zweli Mkhize win
10% - 1016 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.