My teacher Ms. Pierce: The one who taught me how to think for myself
By Jessica on October 14th, 2010
This is the fourth in a series of posts from the OOM team looking back at the special teachers who helped shape who we are today. We hope you’ll share yours on your own blogs, in the comments here, on Facebook, or on Twitter with the hashtag #myteacher.
If you were going to take AP US History in my high school, then you knew without a doubt that you would be taking Ms. Pierce’s class. There was no getting around it. You were going to be carrying a large binder (if you thought that you could get away with a half inch binder, you were dreaming), you were going to work harder than you ever had in your life, and there were going to be readings. Lots and lots of readings.
But I had always been a closet history nerd and I wanted so much to take the AP class that I signed up with everyone else. I am not going to tell you that I was the stunning star of the class. Far from it. The lessons Ms. Pierce taught me however were the single greatest influence of my academic life. She taught me to think for myself and she taught me how to structure an opinion based on facts from both sides.
Because of Ms. Pierce, not one of my professors in college ever had to explain to me what a thesis statement was. I learned the difference between primary and secondary sources when I was a junior in high school while some of my classmates were still having trouble with the concept their junior year of college. Ms. Pierce was never going to coddle you. She was never going to dumb down information for any of her students. She would answer questions but she would never just give you the answer. She would make you think about it and back up whatever your thoughts were with facts. After all, she had given you everything that you needed for your opinion, whatever it was, in the assignments. Oh and if you thought you might just get away with just agreeing with her in class…you were wrong. I’ve never seen someone change a position so fast in my life. You couldn’t fake it with her. You just had to know the information.
The one thing I particularly remembered about her class was the sheer volume of American History that she taught us. It was the very first US history class where we went past World War II. In that moment in those last weeks of school that I knew that the world was bigger than I had ever imagined it. That history wasn’t something that ended strictly in the past. We would spend the very first part of class talking about current events; the things going on in our world right that very moment. Ms. Pierce taught me that history was what was happening around you and that if you paid attention to the world around you then you were included in it.
When I finished my junior year of high school, I had no idea the impact that her class would have on my life. The skills I learned carried me through my undergraduate and graduate education. Every history professor I had wanted to hug her after I turned in my first paper and told them about her. Each one of my classmates who I helped to structure either a paper for their own college history class or Masters Thesis, owed her a debt of thanks even though they didn’t know it. So thank you Ms. Pierce from the bottom of my heart for everything…even the binder.
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