There are things we memorize on purpose—grammar rules, birthdays of loved ones, important dates, and deadlines. But there are things that get stuck with us even though we never really put any effort into remembering them. Words have far greater power than we may realize, especially when said at the right place and the right time.
Speaking of the right words, one Reddit user invited others on the social media platform to share things that their school teachers said that stuck with them. Some wise words turned out to be powerful teaching moments for students, whereas some get replayed in one’s mind because they hit some kind of nerve. All in all, the thread blew up, with thousands of replies to the discussion and almost 50k likes. Scroll down to find the best answers that Bored Panda picked for you and vote for the ones you liked the most. In addition to this, in the comment section, share if you ever heard something from a teacher that stuck with you for life!
More info: Reddit
First day off science class: “Many of the topics I will be teaching you this year will likely be proven false throughout your life”
“Killing yourself is a selfish act. There are people you haven’t met yet who need you.”
She was my 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Stone, and I swear to god she saved my life without knowing it.
I’m FB friends with several of my old teachers. I once wrote about how I had the recurring nightmare of being in my chemistry teacher’s class and having to take an exam but not having studied for it.
He replied saying that his recurring nightmare is my being in his class.
In my Senior year we had a dinner at school. There was a very long queue for the desserts, so I went and asked a history teacher where it started, because I couldn’t find it (it was pretty chaotic)
The teacher proceeded to put an arm around me, walk me to the desserts table, and say “Ray my boy, [damn] the queue”
I was several weeks into a course in high school I still hadn’t bought the textbook. When the teacher found out I didn’t have the book, she took me aside and asked why. Being a dumb teenager, without thinking I gave her some lame excuse about the book being “too expensive.” My family was solidly middle class, and, although not rich, my parents definitely would have bought the book for me. The real reason was just that I was lazy.
But my teacher looked sincerely concerned and quietly handed me a $20 bill. I was caught off-guard and mortified. Of course, I did buy the book right away after that. And then later that year returned a $20 to the teacher.
I always struck by the generosity of a teacher who would do that for her students, but I felt awful about how what I thought was an innocent lie turned out. Definitely a valuable lesson in honesty, lol.
“You’re a spoon in a knife block” when asked why most of my friends were high achievers and I was only average.
“Have I been respectful to you?”
Me: “well, yeah”
“Are you being respectful to me?”
Simple words. They have guided me so much.
My geometry teacher was super chill. He taught us to play poker and blackjack. On the last day of school he said, “Remember: if you ever need anything or have any questions while you’re at this school, there are about 50 other teachers you should go to before you come to me”.
I once asked my teacher something about the subject. And she said, “I don’t know, but I’ll do some research and get back to you tomorrow.”
After being caught smoking pot in high school (1986). My Science teacher (Hi Mr. Fischbein) said to me: “there is a time and place for everything, this is not the time, nor the place”. He did not report me to administration. He was a great teacher.
“I finished school with the lowest grades possible. If THIS idiot could do it, all YOU idiots can do it too” the whole class cheered.
“Once you’re an adult, you choose your own fate. Your mom won’t control you anymore.”
this came from a 9th grade Algebra 1 teacher who took the time to tutor me. My mom was/is a antivaxxing, cult following nut bag who didn’t think school was important because Armageddon is coming. I was terrible at math until I met him.
It’s been 25 years and I think of this teacher still, I am grateful. Don’t talk to mom anymore, she got tired of me asking where Armageddon was…
“You have an accent, your skin is brown, your whole life will be filled with people who will assume this means you are not as smart or as good as they are at literally anything. That’s why I push you. That’s why I demand more from you. You have to work harder now so you can prove them all wrong for the rest of your life.”
Ms. Johnson 9th grade English teacher
(Biology teacher, pointing at student)
“Ugly bag of protein, full of water!”
There’s no benefit to being right if you can’t make people listen to the answer.
I had a maths teacher who was an older woman, really strict and nobody particularly liked her. We mocked her way of speaking and were generally mean teenage assholes.
Once, when I was around 15, I hadn’t finished my homework so I dropped my book in a puddle and showed it to her in class to say I’d lost the homework so couldn’t hand it in. She questioned me a bit on how it had happened, then asked me to stay after class. The whole lesson I was [crapping] myself, expecting to be absolutely bollocked once everyone else had gone, so when the bell rang I sheepishly went up and sat at her desk after everyone had left.
To my surprise, she didn’t shout at me but gently asked if I was being bullied and somebody had taken my workbook and ruined it on purpose. I was a little skinny kid with glasses and braces, so I can see why she would have thought that, but in that moment I suddenly saw her as a human being with feelings and empathy and not just a teacher. I felt like [crap] for the way I had treated her, and for lying about what had happened. I never admitted it to her – just reassured her that I was fine – but it did stick with me and I was much less of an [asshole] to teachers after that.
My anatomy teacher was a cool dude. He’d give us little tidbits of advice before each test, ranging from “always put your shopping cart away” to “you don’t have to be 100% okay 100% of the time, and that’s 100% okay, 100% of the time.”
He’s definitely one of the best teachers I’ve had.
My art teacher told me I couldn’t draw. Fast forward 15 years and I’ve graduated university with a fine art degree and have my own small illustration business as a side gig. It’s not a huge thing, but I’ve had over 150 sales now and have like, actual fans! So, screw you Miss H!
I took Latin all four years of high school. I quickly realized I despised the language, but I stuck with it for the teacher himself. He alone was worth it.
Our Latin class was right above the hallway with classrooms for special needs kids. One day, after it was apparent nobody did their homework, my teacher stopped class and said, “you’re all taking what you have for granted, and it’s inexcusable. There are several dozen kids in the hallway below you who wish they had the mental faculties to do homework.”
I did my Latin homework regularly after he said that.
“The point of arguing is not to prove that you are right, but to convince the other person that you are right.”
“I know what it is to be young but you don’t know what it is to be old”
I don’t know why and how it came up, but our English teacher asked me if I understand that. It was the first year and I was 10, and I definitely did not understand. But it somehow stuck in my mind as the sound of the sentence, until I could decipher the memory in retrospect.
One time one of my elective classes was just kind of chilling out the day before winter break and the teacher decided to arrange all our desks in a circle. He had everyone anonymously write something that was troubling them at the moment and he would go through and give some advice.
I wrote about my parents constant fighting and how I feared their inevitable divorce and the possibility of moving across country with my mother. I wish I could remember what he said but I vividly remember almost crying because what he said hit so hard but I kept it together. Less than a month later, both things happened lmao
“What do they call someone who graduated vet school with a 2.0 GPA? Doctor.” My first-term anatomy professor (IN vet school) telling us to stop fretting so much about the grades and worry about the knowledge.
This came from a teacher who hated my guts (and I his). We never got along – I disliked what he taught and how he taught it. He thought I was pompous and bragged about my grades (maybe pompous, but never bragged about my grades).
Anyway, we had turned in our Ethics final paper, and mine was 20 pages long or so. Sometime later, he asked me to come by his room to pick up my paper. Despite how much he disliked me, he told me, “Sam, I’ve been teaching this class for over 10 years – this is the best paper I have ever read. Can I use this as an example for future classes?”
I gained a ton of respect for him that day because I knew how hard it had to be for him to admit that.
Ended every class with “You’re good people”.
I had a home room teacher, that out of frustration one day, ranted about how easy school was.
He said, “We literally give you a book or the text, tell you to read it, then ask you to answer questions. The answers to which are found in the book we gave you. It doesn’t get any easier than that. Read the damn books, answer the damn questions, that’s all school is”
Had a history teacher who told me that “everything is relative.” You can only be poor if someone next to you is rich. You’re only stupid if someone next to you is smart. It helps to put things into perspective and realize how superficial a lot of things are in life. That being said, he also randomly told me that “wolves are badass dogs that don’t give a [damn]” when we were not talking about wolves or dogs in class so who knows what was really going on in his head.
“You can be the smartest person who ever lived and still be wrong.”
“You should just join the army because you’ll never make it into university and get a good job.”
15 years later, I’m a teacher. I’m not going to say that kind of trash to students.
One day in 7th grade our principal came into the homeroom class and wrote on the board “$19.32” in big numbers. He got our attention and announced to the class: “This (pointing at the number) is what you are worth. Every day you come to class, the school gets $19.32 from the state for each of you. So if you are sick, you should still come to class, go to the nurse, and get sent home. That way the school will still get its $19.32.”
That was the day I stopped caring about school. I’m pretty sure he was trying to increase attendance and believed what he said was positive. But when a person you’re supposed to respect tells you you’re worth less than a 20 dollar bill. . .
I had a 9th grade Earth Science teacher who actually had a PhD in biology. He told us that he had made his was through school by writing things he had to learn on 3×5 note cards, and would pull them out of his pocket when he had a few minutes to learn/memorize the material he had written on them. I used that technique from then on – all the way through my own PhD – when I had something important to understand or commit to memory.
You have unlimited potential when you know how to find the first step.
“Question everyone and everything. Conduct your own research to find the truth”
“being wise is better than being smart”
I held on to that right up till receiving my PhD. Now that I’m entrenched in the corporate world of merciless exploitation, I’ve realised being smart about life is really a subset of being wise.
In religion class.
“Read the bible as a history lesson and not as dogma”
Actually made me interested in the bible.
i had a teacher mr. lakes who was a young idealistic gentlemen who wanted to challenge our minds. one day he asked “if you could control all the news all the media but you had to give up 80% of your money would you?” most people said no, i had the highest grade in the class and always strived to impress him and i happily exclaimed I would and that no one else got it. he beamed at me joyfully. the reality is i had no clue why you would do it, it was just the “right answer” to him. he was trying to make a point at how powerful media is and how much control it has.
i look at the media now adays, the news, facebook, instagram, reddit, all of it, and look how much control it has over our lives, how a single tweet can ruin a career, how an opinion can get you attacked, and how easily people are turned against eachother. i look around everywhere and realize how right mr. lakes was and the point he was trying to make. sadly his audience was a gaggle of idiotic inner city schools kids who didn’t give a [damn], and one kiss ass just looking for validation
I loved stories but was slow to pick up reading. Once it clicked I was at the top of my class until I graduated highschool, I have a BA BCM now. In primary school I wanted to go to a book fair called Voices in the Coast. I was shot down instantly.
A year before that, because I was bad at reading spelling was also hard. My 5th grade teacher made everyone stand up depending on what they got right on a spelling test. I was the only one to get all of them wrong. He made me stand in front of the class.
If you ever see this, [damn] you Mr Burns from CSS 2003.
I had a chemistry teacher in high school who was a bit of a hot head. One day, when two kids were talking in class, he stopped. Everyone expected a quick but firm correction. What we got was so much better.
Our teacher stopped and calmly turned towards the class and said “Do you hear that?” He walked towards the window at the back of the class. Everyone sat stone quiet. He leaned towards the window “Do you hear it? Faint laughter. It’s 5 million Chinese children laughing quietly… BECAUSE THEY’RE TAKING YOUR JOBS!!”
Then he just walked back to the front of the class and started teaching again. No one talked.
“Just get a [damn] haircut” I kept complaining during PE that my hair was in my face. This was one of those teachers that felt more like one of the boys than the teacher. Blew my mind hearing him swear
“You’d do so much better in life if you gave a [damn]. “
Said to me by one of the English teachers in my high school a week before I graduated. This was during a conversation about what I wanted to do post high school and I said something along the lines of “I don’t know. Get a job or something?”
After years of seeing /hearing about my creative writing ability and even showing it during his classes. He’d honestly given up on me. But hey. I’m sure I wasn’t the last kid to let him down.