Many people have that one teacher who made a lasting impact on them. For me, it was my seventh grade teacher, Mrs. Cameron. She died last week at age 88. I’ll always remember two things she taught me. When I first heard them, they were revolutionary and they forever changed me. They were: 1) Until you have tried something (or experienced or read, etc), you can’t criticize something or say you don’t like it. On this, opera was her go-to example. She mentioned opera and everyone in the class would groan or mutter how they hated it; she then asked how many had actually listened to opera, nobody answered. We then listened to and analyzed Bizet’s Carmen. She was adamant that if you made the statement “I don’t like [blank]", you had better have an explanation as to why you didn’t like it and had had a first-hand experience. “Just because” didn’t cut it with Mrs. Cameron. 2)You must read at least five books (or equivalent) in a subject in order to talk expertly about it. She stressed to her students that if you want to criticize something (like opera or anything), you needed to really understand it. You couldn’t read just one book, or listen to just one opera, then give an opinion. You had to read several books, or listen to several operas, before you could really discuss it properly with anyone – a valuable lesson in today’s Wikipedia world.
She opened the eyes and minds of many country kids - many of which would have never been exposed to the arts and humanities without her help. She always wanted you to rise higher, to realize your potential. She was a wonderful teacher. Thanks, Mrs. Cameron!