The best teacher I had

*Note: Below is a comment I posted to a blog post on Stuff White People Do about cognitive biases and the best teacher you ever had:

The best teacher I had was Dr. Cera in my two intro psych classes. He scored high enough on the APA exam to teach ANYWHERE (ie: New York/LA), yet taught comfortably at my community college in suburban Vancouver. I learned so much from Dr. Cera, from his entirely appropriate use of ‘foul’ language in class (seriously) to the fact that he exemplified what it meant for a person to be COMPLETELY real and COMPLETELY genuine. You could never call him on bullshit because it naturally slipped off him. He had an ethos for functionality and cut his hair probably twice a year (only when it grew too long). I used to joke that he was too busy being a genius to cut his white locks and had the semblance of Einstein’s hair.

When Dr. Cera conducted our 30-bodied class, he sat down at the tables like we did with his arms neatly together and his glasses half-way down his nose. He made real eye contact with us and often drew examples from his grad school experiences or memorable clients from his private practice. He was totally honest with you and once he even wore an earring! He addressed everybody as “sir” or “miss” and led a classroom conducted with respect, between teacher and student, and student to student. Some teachers in college learned you by name, but Dr. Cera never did. Maybe he was too old. Maybe it was too hard to learn names and faces that change each semester.

I am now majoring in Psychology because of Dr. Cera. His presence gave me real experiences of my own to illustrate the concepts he taught in the classroom, and reflecting on his class gave me the vocabulary and immersion to function in the ‘real’ world as a person changed for the better. One day, after I wrote a paper on self-actualization (my most personally redeeming), he accidentally called me out by name. That was the best day of my life.


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