Walter Panknin (1898 – 1977) and His Family Ch6 Part 16

Two Outstanding Teachers

Biene wrote this post.

This is the beloved school I attended for nine years. Over the entrance was a stained glass window that read “Non scholae sed vitae.” I hardly ever missed a day and was always eager to go and learn for life.

Biene’s High School in Velbert

We started with 45 girls in grade 5, and after nine years, only 15 of us graduated. Our homeroom teacher was called Mr. Meckenstock. He mentored us for the entire school time. We fondly nicknamed him Mecki after our generation’s beloved little stuffed hedgehog toy. Mecki faintly resembled the little toy because he had lost most of his hair. However, he was very strict (like almost all German teachers) and also kind and warm-hearted. Above all, he was a unique character full of contradictions. He taught us English and French with lots of enthusiasm. He was proficient in both languages, even though he had never studied them in his native country. He had never been abroad until we went on a field trip to Paris with him in grade 11. The comical adventures of that memorable trip I will never forget. But I will talk about them in detail later. Mecki laid great stress on oral participation in classroom discussions which I liked. I enjoyed sharing thoughts and opinions on ideas or books we had to read in English and French.

Biene’s Class in Paris

Our math teacher, nicknamed Ata (father), was also popular; this short, round, red-cheeked jovial man was a wizard with numbers. Every math lesson he magically turned into a fun experience by engaging us in group math competitions on the blackboard. He cared that we understood and freely helped us when we had problems. We tried very hard not to disappoint him.

These two outstanding teachers probably had the most significant influence on my academic achievement. I will talk more about other teachers soon; teachers at my time were highly respected. When they entered the classroom, we had to rise and greet them in unison. Whenever we volunteered an answer, we also had to stand up. In their presence, we had to act and speak politely and respectfully. But life is full of paradoxes. We girls were not as docile and disciplined as was expected.Before concluding this post,  one more afterthought on our school building.  As I mentioned, the boy’s high school was adjacent to ours.  The schools were so close that we had to cross the boy’s schoolyard to go down some rock steps to our yard. We were not allowed to talk or interact with the boys when walking to our yard below.   The boys would stand at the retaining wall and look down on us.  Maybe that reflected an attitude symbolic of that time.

13 Replies to “Walter Panknin (1898 – 1977) and His Family Ch6 Part 16”

  1. Biene, it sounds like there were many rules to behavior at your school in Germany. Growing up in a similar time in America, we had many more rules than now but did not always show the respect to teachers that we should have. Looking forward to your post on the field trip to Paris. Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Biene, I agree that teachers have a lot of influence on their pupils in a negative or positive way. If I had had your math teacher, I might even have liked that subject. 😉
    I remember this having to stand up, but only up to 10th grade, not the last three years, during which we even were called “Sie” instead of “du”.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Boys and girls school seem to exist in pairs in many parts of the world when schools were largely gender-based. Mine and my sister’s school were very close together as well. Of course, after a certain age, boys would use any excuse to go near or past the girls’ school.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. At the boys’ high school that I attended, a female student was allowed in the upper grades because our school provided a curriculum in the ancient languages which need for her classical studies later. We boys were awed by her presence.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Being a retired teacher I enjoyed reading your post. It is always gratifying to hear from students, now that they’re adults and appreciate you as they reflect.

    Liked by 1 person

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