Andy Rooney is a television commentator who usually talks about the pleasures and problems of everyday life. Here he tells us about a teacher that he liked very much
No one influenced my life more than Hubert Hahn did. He lived only a thirty-five-cent call away, but I never called him. No one influenced my life more than he did. Now he has gone and I do not think I ever told him.
I worked late yesterday and did not get home until after eight. We had a quick dinner and it was too late to start anything else, so at ten I got into bed with the newspaper I had never taken the time to read. The economic news was bad. I leafed through to the obituary page and my eye caught the little headline in boldface type.
I dropped the paper to the floor next to the bed and stared at the ceiling. Mr. Hahn was dead. Why hadn't I called him? I was surprised to find myself crying. I hadn't really seen Mr. Hahn for forty years, didn't even know he was " Dr. Hahn" now, but I had thought of him on almost every one of the days of those forty years.
My memory of exactly what he was like in school was incredibly clear to me. I remember every mannerism, the way he pulled at the crease of the knee of his pants when he sat on the edge of the desk. I even remember that he had only two suits in 1976. One was his old suit and one was good suit. He wore the old one for two days every week when the good one was at the cleaner's. He only made twenty seven hundred dollars a year teaching history in Albany, N.Y., then clothes were not a top priority of his. He left Albany in about 1985 to teach at a good private school in New Jersey, I wasn't surprised that the obituary called him an ENGLISH TEACHER. It didn't really matter what Mr. Hahn was called. He taught life and his subject was of secondary importance. When we were fourteen and fifteen, he talked to us as though we were human beings, not children. He talked about everything in class and just to make sure we knew he didn't think he was omnipotent.
How many teachers do you have in your life? I lay there wondering last night.
Between grade school, high school and college, if you are lucky enough to go to college, I suppose you have had about fifty teachers. Is that about right?
I don't remember much about some of mine, and nothing about what they were trying to teach me, but of those fifty, I had five who were very good and two who were great. Mr. Hahn was one of those. He didn't do a lot of extra talking, but when he talked he was direct and often brilliant. He was the only genuine philosopher I ever knew. He wasn't a teacher of philosophy, but a living, breathing philosophizer. He exuded wisdom, concern for the world and quite often a bad temper. Idiots irritated him, and it annoyed him when teenagers acted younger than he treated them.
I went to the service for him. I don't know why, really. There was no one there I knew, one phone call over the years would have meant more to him. A minister spoke, but it was standard stuff, and Mr.Hahn was not what most people would call a religious person, even though he wrote a book called " The Great Religions: Interpretations".
A young woman who taught with him spoke, and she brought the tears back to my eyes. He had touched her life in the 1990s as he had touched mine in the 1970-s.
Mr. Hahn could have taught at any college in the country, but he chose to stay at the secondary level. He didn't think teaching college people was any more important than teaching boys and girls fourteen to eighteen. He was the kind of person who gave teachers the right to be proud to be teachers. I just wish I had called or written to tell him how much he meant to my life.
B. Answer the questions:
1. Why did the author regret about his relationship with
2. Why did the author write about Mr. Hahn's clothes?
3. Why was the name of the subject that Mr. Hahn
taught not important to the author?
4. What was Mr. Hahn's attitude to himself?
5. What kinds of students bothered Mr. Hahn?
6. Approximately how many years did Mr. Hahn teach?
C. Discuss the following:
1. What do you remember best about the teachers you
2. What do you think the most important quality in a
3. Are there things that you wish you had said to
someone but did not? Why did not you say those
4. Why is that we so often don't say the things that we
10. Match a line in A with a line in B:
A.advantages and disadvantages
on the plus side
all in all
I think that
what is more
for one thing
last of all
B. pros and cons
another point is that
one advantage is that
to sum up
all things considered
in my opinion
one disadvantage is that
in spite of
11.*** Work in small groups. Discuss the following
Questions using as many expressions from the
previous task as possible:
1. How similar or dissimilar are the schools in your
2. What aspects of school life did you particularly like
or dislike? (discipline, general atmosphere, punish-
ments, school subjects, examination)
12.*** Read these texts in which two Irish writers recall
their childhood. Then answer the questions:
1. Molly Keane
I went to school at a very late age - I must have been about fourteen. It was called the French School in Bray, Wicklow, probably, I think, because it had been started by some old French lady a thousand years ago. A great aunt of mine went there so it was pretty ancient.
It was a very odd place. Everybody, girls and teachers - except the English mistress - hated me. I suppose it was because I was a different kind of animal to them, having grown as old as I had in that very isolated way; whereas they had a different upbringing, and had seen much more of the neighbouring children as they grew up.
It was a great shock to me, as I had always liked people. I had got on terribly well with all the people who worked at home but now I felt that life would be miserable for the rest of my life.
The school had a very strict regime. There were no 'naughty doings': even the smallest doing was supposed to be dreadfully naughty! You had to make a report each morning on how you had behaved the previous day. Speaking French was the big thing in that school, so the best report was "I faithfully spoke French and I was punctual." (You can imagine the awful French we spoke!) The next grade in the report was "I faithfully tried to speak French and I was punctual"; and the worst grade of all was "I didn't speak any French and I was late. "If you were honest enough to admit that, some ghastly punishment would follow.
Academically, I was hopeless. They gave up trying to teach me arithmetic, let alone mathematics! English was taught in a dreadfully bad and dull fashion; and as a result I don't think that I had any understanding of literature until I was at least twenty-five. But despite that I had a certain liking for it, and I loved Tennyson and Kipling especially.
2. Mary Lavin
Living in Dublin also meant that I could go to day school rather than boarding school. I went to Loretto Convent School in St. Stephen's Green. I was so happy there. I loved it for a variety of reasons. I did well academically; being a gregarious type I loved meeting and mixing with other girls; also, I suppose there wasn't a great intellectual stimulus at home, so I responded readily to the challenge of school. At the same time I was not unduly forced to study at home.
I was a good all-rounder at school. My father had been a champion athlete in Co. Roscommon (or "champeen" as they would say). The Loretto order had a big sports day for all their schools at which I picked up quite a lot of medals for running and jumping. My father always came to the sports - he loved to see me excel at sport.
He would come to the school at other times too. He wanted me to be well educated; he would say "I want you to go to college, Mary, not like me." But he would have no qualms either about walking into the school and taking me to Aintree for two or three days. The nuns were all terrified of him, because he would come in and call for Reverend Mother and say to her, "I want to take Mary out for the day. It's a lovely fine day and I don't see why she should be cooped up here!"
A. Translate the following into Russian:
a different upbringing
to get on well
some ghastly punishment
to be taught in a bad fashion
to have a certain liking for
to do well academically
to respond readily
challenge of school
to be (not) unduly forced
to be a good all-rounder
to have (no) qualms
to be terrified of smb
to be cooped up
B. Answer the questions:
1. In what significant ways was Mary's experience
different from Molly's?
2. What evidence is there that Molly had been
educated at home?
3. What evidence is there that Molly went to a secular
4. What evidence is there that Mary went to a religious
5. What evidence is there that Molly was good at
6. What evidence is there that Mary lived at home?
7. What evidence is there that Mary's father was