Preserved Stories Blog


Ken Kingsbury is doing research on Alfred Ramcharan, who was a teacher at Malcolm Campbell High School

Update

A subsequent post is entitled:

Alfred Ramcharan served as administrator at early 1960s External Aid Office conferences, while he studied education at Macdonald College and McGill

 

I’ve recently been helping out Ken Kingsbury of Ottawa, who is doing research on Alfred Ramcharan, who was a teacher at Malcolm Campbell High School. I’ve helped out by way of sharing the 1961-62 to 1973-74 MCHS yearbooks with Ken.

Ken Kingsbury has also give me permission to share our recent messages, back and forth, regarding his research

On Nov. 6, 2017 , Ken Kingsbury of Ottawa writes:

I have been doing some research on a gentleman, Mr. Alfred Ramcharan,
who was a teacher at Malcolm Campbell HS in Montreal.

Fred Ramcharan. Source: MCHS 1964-65 yearbook

Alfred Ramcharan. Source: MCHS 1964-65 yearbook

In a nutshell: I’m researching Canada’s External Aid Office [EAO],
responsible for administering our foreign aid in the early 1960s – EOA became CIDA in ’68 I think. The EAO held teacher briefing conferences each summer for teachers going abroad to work in developing countries. Mr. Ramcharan used to work at these conferences at Macdonald College while he was an Education student. He struck up a friendship with some EAO staff, as recorded in his handwritten letters in the EAO files in the National Library & Archives. I’m just following up his life after he graduated from McGill and started teaching.

Alfred Ramcharan. The photo is from the draft PDF that accompanies the post you are now reading. The caption reads: Source: Crowley family website.

Alfred Ramcharan. The photo is from the draft PDF that accompanies the post you are now reading. The caption reads: Source: Crowley family website.

In combing the internet for Ramcharan ‘hits’ I came across your post on the Malcolm Campbell HS Grads facebook page, saying there are PDFs of the ’61-62 thru ’73-74 yearbooks. If I could impose on you, I am interested in knowing what year Mr. Ramcharan started teaching at MCHS. He graduated in the spring of ’63 so he couldn’t have started before fall ’63. If it’s too much trouble for your to check the yearbook staff pages, perhaps I could buy a copy of the DVD?

On Nov. 7, 2017, Jaan Pill of Toronto writes:

Good to read your message. I will check the yearbooks, and let you know the details that you seek. It will take a day or two.

Is it okay if I talk about your research, at my website, in the context of the history of MCHS?

Ken Kingsbury, Nov. 7, 2017:

Here’s my draft Ramcharan notes, in PDF format. Much more to do before it’s a finished product…

Again, guaranteed to cure insomnia!

Dear Fred – Alfred Ramcharan and the EAO – LoRes

The draft research report notes that Alfred Joseph (Kalkapersad) Ramcharan was born on September 7, 1923, in Victoria, Trinidad and Tobago and passed away on March 110, 1988 in Montreal.

Comment from Ken Kingsbury regarding Marty Butler and The Bells

Marty Butler (MCHS '62). Source: MCHS 1961-62 yearbook.

Marty Butler (MCHS ’62). The photo is from the 1961-62 MCHS yearbook.

Ken Kingsbury has shared an additional comment on Nov. 7, 2017 regarding Marty Butler at a post entitled:

Bob Carswell shares information and reminisces about Marty Butler (MCHS ’62)

Ken writes:

Malcolm Campbell HS is everywhere I turn these days, Jaan! I’ve been researching Alfred Ramcharan, who turns out to have taught at MCHS… now I’ve been just digitising my old “The Bells” LP (Fly, Little White Dove, Fly) and checking out the songwriter credits – Marty Butler is credited with three of the songs on side one. The three tunes are “Fly, Little White Dove, Fly” (classic!), “Yesterday Will Never Come Again”, and “I’m Gonna Get Out”.

I found a newspaper article on Marty Butler, in the Brandon Sun, 15 Jan 1973. I cached it in my Dropbox; here’s the link:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/gzyiq5jix3x112l/brandonsun-jan15-1973.jpg?dl=0

Comment from Jaan Pill (Nov. 8, 2017) at above-noted blog post about Marty Butler and The Bells

Wonderful to read your comment, Ken!

Today I will post our email discussion, and your draft PDF file, concerning Alfred Ramcharan.

I am really pleased that the stories about MCHS (and other topics) are of value to so many people, who seek information about individuals and events of yesterday.

I’m reminded of an article I wrote for Cinema Canada, a Canadian film magazine, in the late 1970s. A researcher that I’ve been in touch with extensively in recent years, with regard to local history in South Etobicoke (which is extensively featured at my website) contacted me some time back. He was seeking information about a Toronto photographer of many years ago.

He found it a great coincidence that, in searching for such details, he learned of my Cinema Canada article (it’s available online), he realized I had written about the photographer, and for that reason got in touch with me – about a topic that had no relation to the local history topics that we had discussed earlier. I was able to point him toward some likely contacts, that could help him in his research.

The bottom line is that, with the work of many people, the Preserved Stories website has come to serve as a communications hub for many people, including those of us who have a connection, in one form or another, to Malcolm Campbell High School.

I’m really please how things have evolved, thanks to the contributions of many site visitors, since we first launched this site around 2012, after spending a lot of time working on the site’s page layout and navigation structure with the assistance of Walden Design in Toronto. The final launch was made with the assistance of Maestra Web Design in Mimico.

So many people (including site visitors) have worked together to develop this website in recent years. We owe thanks to every person who has helped to turn the site into a valuable community resource.

 

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40 Responses to Ken Kingsbury is doing research on Alfred Ramcharan, who was a teacher at Malcolm Campbell High School

  1. Dan Brisson says:

    Hello,

    I graduated MCHS in 1983, and Ramcharan was my advanced math teacher. I do have my yearbook in case you are looking for more information. He was one of my favorite teachers.

    Dan Brisson

  2. Jaan Pill Jaan Pill says:

    Hello,

    Wonderful to know that he was an advanced math teacher. I’m interested in details about your yearbook. Is it for 1982-83? The yearbooks that we put together, as a DVD, for the MCHS 2015 reunion were for 1961-62 to 1973-74.

    I would be interested in knowing more – e.g. what advanced math subjects did Mr. Ramcharan cover? What was his teaching style – how did he approach the teaching of math? Can you tell us what was it about him, that made him one of your favourite teachers.

    I graduated in 1963 meaning that the story of this teacher is a story that I learn about from hearing of experiences of younger students.

    Jaan Pill

  3. Effie Condax says:

    Besides advanced math, he taught vectors. I have 1976-1980 yearbooks

    • Jaan Pill Jaan Pill says:

      Ken Kingsbury will let us know, in the event he may have an interest in details about Mr. Ramcharan that may be available in the 1976-1980 yearbooks.

  4. STEWART Indig says:

    Known as “Freddie the Whip”, I too enjoyed his teaching style and his 5 min exams. He taught us tricks to help us remember things. I graduated Malcolm Campbell 1974. So it was a long time ago. I remember him liking and drinking regular Coca Cola. I also remember when he got married or maybe he was just dating this Indian woman. His favourite word was OKay.

    I was never really good in math but when I had him in grade 10, one of my highest marks was in math

    • Jaan Pill Jaan Pill says:

      It’s really good to know these details about his teaching style. I have an interest in getting up to speed on high school math, that being a subject that did not much interest me at the time.

      I’m pleased to know that Mr. Ramcharan – aka Freddie the Whip – had an enjoyable teaching style and used methods to help students master and remember what they learned. That makes such a huge difference – a teacher who knows her/his stuff and knows how to get the concepts across!

  5. Catherine Kotsos Crowley says:

    I do remember Mr. Ramcharan very well. As I recall, his speech was initially hard to understand. He said “r’s” as “w’s” but you became accustomed to it quickly. He was brilliant. He could multiply 5-6 digit numbers with another same amount of digits number and get the right answer before we could enter it in our calculators. Like Stewart said, he showed us all kinds of tricks and shortcuts. I had had a string of so-so math teachers previously but when I had him for Functions, I gained confidence in my math abilities. He was famous for giving 10 minutes tests every Friday. He used to say that if you couldn’t do 10 problems in 10 minutes, you didn’t know what you were doing! Imagine my glee when I persevered and started getting 💯! He was one of my favorite teachers. When we graduated from high school, he always told us we could seek him out if we ever needed extra help. While we were in CEGEP, he gave parties for prior students and he would cook Indian food for us. He was such a kind man with a way of explaining things so clearly. He inspired me to become a teacher myself. I remember feeling so sad when I heard he had died.

    • Ken Kingsbury says:

      Hi Catherine,
      Great comments!
      Can you remember where (and when) he lived when he gave parties? I have an address (July 1963 to 1973-4) at 2188 Saint-Luc Street (aka St. Luke St.). Saint-Luc Street was gobbled up by Boul. Maisoneuve West in 1966 so his address became 2188 Boul. Maisoneuve West (Montreal 25 – who remembers the old postal zones?). For 1973-74 he’s listed at 2254 Noel (St. Laurent), where he stays until 1980. Interestingly (or not!) when Fred moves to Noel, a Mr. Ken C Ramcharan moves into Fred’s old place at 2188 Maisoneuve (from close by at 1186 St. Matthew). Sounds like Fred had a relative in Montreal. I lose track of Fred’s address after 1980 – the Lovell’s Montreal Directories I use for addresses changed from using surnames as the primary key to using street names. So, instead of looking up a name to find the address, you need to know the address to look up who lived there – very annoying (but better for privacy)!
      Ken K.

  6. Dana Michaels says:

    Hi Jaan,
    I too had Mr. Ramcharan, he knew every student and he knew what they didnt know , proved it many times and to insult we all joined in and tested and teased him. I thankfully had him in grade 8 and then again in grade 11 , without him I would have failed. If you gave him sine he could give you it’s co-sine , recite pi adnauseum till we all gave up. I would bet there is not a single student who does not remember this man that would have nothing but have praise for him.

    Diane Moore ( Dana Michaels)

  7. Remo scardera Robert scardera says:

    My twin Robert and Remo Scardera 1978. The
    Best teacher in math we both ended up in college and
    university Because top math teacher we
    both had prepared us for college and university
    We own 3000 Apt revenue building and 2500
    nursing home complex he inspired
    both of us became Business minded. He knew
    How to teach us.

  8. Christine O'Neill says:

    I loved being in Mr Ramcharan’s Trigonoetry class. He really challenged me, and I did well with his teaching style. Even though I didn’t have him for Math, I was struggling with it, and he helped me understand it, outside regular school teaching hours. He really cared, if you showed him that you wanted to learn. I may not have gone on so easily, to college/university, in sciences, had it not been for this teacher, who is remembered fondly by so many.

  9. Jaan Pill Jaan Pill says:

    A comment from MCHS 1960s Facebook group:

    Hands down the best teacher I ever had! He took our grade 9 Math class, all 41 of us and we completed the grade 9 material AND wrote the grade 11 Algebra matric. NO One failed that exam. I’d like to see a teacher do that today! And I am a teacher!

  10. Jaan Pill Jaan Pill says:

    Many, many comments at Malcolm Campbell High School Grads Facebook page – all along the same lines: An amazing teacher!

  11. Donna says:

    I absolutely loved Mr Ramcharan. I had him for math in my final year (1975). Could he ever teach! I was amazed how at quickly I was able to grasp the concepts with him. I remember thinking that I really didn’t need to do repetitive homework because he was able to teach and somehow make you retain just by being in his class. He should have been the head of the math department because he was one of the very best teachers at MCHS. I wish that I had had the opportunity to tell him in person. I was very sad to hear of is his passing.

    • Jaan Pill Jaan Pill says:

      I find your comment and all of the comments I have read about Mr Ramcharan of much interest. I look forward to reading the PDF file (it’s available as a link in the main text above) with the draft of Ken Kingsbury’s overview of the teacher’s valuable work that continued outside of the realm associated with Malcolm Campbell High School. I also look forward to reading the final overview, for which a draft is currently available.

      I did not have Mr Ramcharan as a teacher. Yet I have learned so much of value from reading comments from his former students. I have learned by way of example that a great math teacher can underline, even for students who don’t think they are “good at math,” that math is a language that most everybody can learn, given first-rate instruction.

      I was also pleased to learn about the many aspects of Mr Ramcharan’s personality – his adeptness at classroom management (an absolute prerequisite for good teaching, I would say) and his human side – the occasional sarcasm; the genuine sense of caring, with regard to all students (even ones who were not his math students); the positive impression that he left, with so many people, for so many reasons.

      It is truly an inspiration for me to know of such a person, to know of such a teacher.

  12. Jaan Pill Jaan Pill says:

    In a message of Nov. 8, 2017 Ken Kingsbury writes:

    Whoa! What a good response – shows you’ve got an audience out there in Internet Land!

    My primary interest in Fred is his friendship with Noble Power (what a name to have to live up to!) and Fred’s connection to the EAO. And that interest is because it touches (tangentially) the Gillespies time in Kenya for the External Aid Office.

    When I get my Dear Fred note complete, I’ll fade to black, MCHS-wise.

    However since the hornets’ nest has been stirred, I’ll make a list of all the resources I have used (& some that didn’t get used), and make that available to whomever wants to press on with Ramcharan research (Priya sounds keen).

    I must say I’m curious about the comment about him marrying! And I wonder what he died of (at age 64, my age right now).

    Anyway, more to come.

  13. Jaan Pill Jaan Pill says:

    The reference to Priya in the text above refers to a comment from a former student named Priya.

    Back story related to Priya:

    On a Facebook page:

    “How does one participate in that research? An exceptional teacher for whom teaching was not a job but rather a passion.”

    Do you have an answer for Priya?

  14. John Vergados says:

    I had him for home room in 1987 advanced Math and was the best math teacher I’ve ever had. A real genius !!!

  15. Paul Katsoulis says:

    Had him as a teacher in grade 9 and wished to have him every year. A genius of a teacher. And a mastery of the subject as well as his teaching skills. He grabbed your attention with his wit and little math tricks. I remember the first day of school he told us to put our math textbooks in our lockers and to return them back to him on the last day. We never used them. I won’t forget his “come here little boy and come here little girl”. I will never forget him as he was the best teacher I ever had. And I think he married miss Nabbi.

  16. Andreana Sigounas says:

    I had him as a math teacher in 1984 he was the greatest math teacher I’ve ever had now that I remember he was very smart the way he taught math and he had a lot of tricks to learn math I have the yearbook which I graduated in 1984 He is actually the only teacher I actually remembered in my high school years

  17. Lynn Berry says:

    I had Mr. Ramcharan for Functions in Grade 11, my last year at MCHS. I was a fairly good student in math. I was planning to go into Health Sciences at Vanier CEGEP, which I did. A few of us were put into a program called the modularized integrated science program. Essentially, it was a program whereby we taught ourselves through modules with the assistance of teachers. However, we did not have formal classes in a classroom with the teacher at the front. I struggled more than I had at MCHS, as I learned better with a teacher. I remember telling Mr. Ramcharan how I was struggling when I called him up a few months into my program. He offered good advice and told me to take advantage of asking the teacher for help.

    He also told me not to PROCRASTINATE. It was difficult because that first semester, our courses were Calculus, Physics, Chemistry and two electives. I got through it but the next semester was even more difficult as we were into more advanced levels of those subjects. I started to question my decision to take a Health Sciences diploma but finished it two years later.

    I kept in touch with Mr.Ramcharan and then went off to Carleton University. They pushed me ahead into second year, where I spent the first year playing catchup with Grade 13 students. I took an elective in Accounting which I sailed through. I became an Accountant and have been one for 41 years. I lost touch with Mr.Ramcharan years later. I organized our 40th high school reunion in Montreal in August 2013.

    After dinner, Barbara Godsell Boyer and I asked our classmates if they had any stories to share about any of our teachers. I started off with some of my stories of that Grade 11 Functions class. Many of my friends who were in that class were quite brilliant. However, there were a few boys who decided it was their life’s goal to make Mr.Ramcharan’s hour with us challenging. And that is an understatement.

    Without naming names (the guilty will be protected LOL) on many occasions when it was snowing outside our 3rd floor window, these boys who sat at the very back of our classroom would find a way of distracting him while he was in the middle of writing on the board. Mr.Ramcharan had eyes in the back of his head and VERY good peripheral vision I might add. Without turning around he would say the name of one of the instigators and make them come to the front of the class.

    This one day he asked the guilty part what was so interesting outside. This guy said “the falling snow”. So Mr.Ramcharan made him go downstairs three floor without his jacket on (it was quite freezing outside that day) and told him to bring up a handful of snow rolled into a ball. By the time this guy got back into our classroom, the snow had pretty much melted and his hand was definitely very red and frozen. Mr.Ramcharan asked him if he had learned THAT lesson. I recall that that guy never did that again.

    Another favourite thing the boys did at the back was pull the girls’ hair in front of them or take their pencils and tap us. I was one of their victims because I sat in the row in front of them. Mr.Ramcharan knew what was going on. Unless, we complained, he would ignore them until the end of the class and then greet them on the way out and give them a couple of extra pages of Functions homework. He did not tolerate disrespect in his classroom. By the end of the school year, I believe everyone in our class passed Functions.

    Many of my classmates went on to become professionals in the medical field. Mr. Ramcharan’s guidance was a common thread in all of our memories of him. I attribute my success in Accounting to him. He was an amazing teacher, an amazing listener. He would do anything to help you, including staying late after school if you needed one on one help. I remember crying when I saw his handwriting on my graduation diploma and on my scholarship. He was one of a kind. No teacher has ever remained in my mind all these years later like he did. Every time I see that movie To Sir With Love or hear the soundtrack, it takes me back to those innocent days as a 16 year old. We all loved him and respected him. When I heard he had passed away, I was heartbroken that I had not seen him one last time. A classy dresser, a classy speaker and a class act like no other. RIP Mr.Ramcharan.

  18. Lynn Berry says:

    I also have pictures which I would be happy to scan and share with you Ken.

  19. Jaan Pill Jaan Pill says:

    Please do scan the pictures, Lynn!

  20. Ken Kingsbury says:

    You guys (non-gender-specific ‘guys’) are great!

    When I’ve carried my bit of Ramcharan research as far as I need to, you guys should take the ball and run with it.

    Obviously Fred was a unique, gifted individual (you might want to banter around the “genius” word). His students (you!) are the ones who really appreciate him; you should capture your memories of him in a tangible form that you can share (before we get much older and start sliding into the abyss).

    • Jaan Pill Jaan Pill says:

      That’s a most excellent suggestion, Ken!

      It’s my hope that one or more of his students will take up the challenge.

      I would be pleased to help such a student or students in whichever way I can.

      Also, I’m really pleased that you are following MCHS-related comments on Facebook – there have been so many comments there, and it’s so interesting to read all of them!

      We owe thanks, as well, to you for getting the conversation underway, regrading Mr Ramcharan’s life, career, and the positive impact of his work.

      I was “not good” at math in high school. I have an interest in catching up, on what I missed, by finding a way to get up to speed on high school math. Any suggestions, that anybody may have, on how best to go about such a project would be much appreciated.

      For a start, a classmate Scott Munro (MCHS 1963) has shared with me information about two books, in a Nov. 27, 2014 email:

      “You were expressing an interest in math on the drive back yesterday [from an MCHS 2015 organizing meeting in Kitchener, Ontario]. Two books that may be of interest to you: 1) The Handy Math Answer Book, by Patricia Barnes-Savey and Thomas E Svarney (Visible Ink Press, MI, ISBN 978-1-57859-373-6 2) The Joy of X by Stephen Strogatz (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, NY, ISBN 978-0-547-51765-0). The first provides historical perspective and basics on the various fields of math, the second has a really nice outline of the quadratic formula, as well as other good things. I picked both at Chapters.”

      I’ve bought both of these books, for a start in my quest.

      I also some years earlier bought a couple of books by John Mighton: The Myth of Ability: Nurturing Mathematical Talent in Every Child (2003); and The End of Ignorance: Multiplying Our Human Potential (2007).

      I’ve also started reading The Bedside Book of Geometry: From Pythagoras to the Space Race: The ABC of Geometry (2011).

      The stories about Mr Ramcharan’s skills as a teacher have convinced me, that it’s time for me to get serious about learning the things, about how mathematics works, that I did not get around to learning all that well, in my own high school journey.

  21. Ruth Kupeian says:

    I was in the graduating Class of 1983 and I was in the math class of Mr Ramcharan in grade 10. Even though I never really liked math, but my final grade that year was almost perfect. As a result, I ended up in Advanced Mathematics in grade 11 with another teacher. Unfortunately my grades went really down as I could not understand a word that was being taught. How I wished I was in Mr Ramcharan’s class again!

    It is with great sadness that I learned that he passed away so soon after. I would say he was the best teacher ever that MCHS ever had. He knew his math. He loved the subject. And he such a gifted teacher that he managed to imprint in your mind even if you were not mathematically inclined. He also loved his students, and I remember that our class wasn’t known to be studious, as there were many students who couldn’t care less about studying. I think sometimes when they were disrupting the class, his chalk would fly at them from almost nowhere. I remember his humor too. He really made us laugh with some seemingly unrelated jokes but they somehow made the point.

    Mr Ramcharan will always be remembered and missed by the students that knew him and had the privilege of being in his class.

  22. Jaan Pill Jaan Pill says:

    For me there’s truly a lesson to be learned, from reading your comments Ruth, and reading the comments of many others.

    I’m reminded of meeting a classmate’s brother just recently, a half-century since I had last spoken with him. The classmate is Scott Munro (MCHS 1963) and his brother is Gary Munro who graduated a few years after. Gary spoke of how he had a math teacher at MCHS who would hand out some math problems for students to solve and then would go off to smoke a cigarette somewhere, arriving back at the end of the class shrouded in smoke. The math marks in that class were not good.

    After MCHS, Gary studied at a community college in Toronto. He got first-rate math instruction and his marks were very high.

    Mr Ramcharan’s story underlines, as does Gary’s experience, that a great math teacher can make all the difference in the world! It underlines, I would say, that math ability is not just inherent in each of us, to a greater or lesser degree, but is contingent on having a first-rate teacher who can help us develop and refine our ability in a classroom setting.

  23. Frank Zand says:

    This is either a coincidence or really freaky. His name popped up in my mind a few days ago. I looked him up and found this blog.

    Mr. Ramcharan spent his final years as a math teacher at what was then Sir Winston Churchill High School, a few blocks from Malcolm Campbell.

    If my memory serves me right, I attended Mr. Ramcharan’s classes in 1987 and 1988, the year of his death. The stories about him here bring back memories of his incredible teaching style and effectiveness.

    I would like to take this opportunity to talk about the days of Mr. Ramcharan, to fill in that particular gap. Mr. Ramcharan was a new teacher to SWCHS. He bragged on how he had never missed a day of work in his life.

    That all changed in 1988. The class was very surprised when he had called in sick, not for one day but for a few. When he finally returned to class, he appeared visibly ill. In fact, his eye was very visibly bloodshot, yet he taught like nothing had happened. It felt like he was ashamed that he had missed any work.

    After a day to a few days, he once again was absent. In his place was the principal and the teacher which had filled in for him. It was explained to us that Mr. Ramcharan had passed away from a heart attack and that we would continue our studies with the substitute.

    It was a difficult to adjust from the shock, not only because nothing of that sort had ever happened to us before but it was late in the year and we were taught math his way. Having to adjust to a totally different way of learning math and exam preparation under a new instructor was in itself a challenge.

    • Jaan Pill Jaan Pill says:

      I was interested to read about the details about Mr Ramcharan’s final years. I was also interested to read about Sir Winston Churchill High School.

      I subsequently read an interesting online note about the LawrenHill Academy Junior Campus (this being new information for me as I moved from Montreal in the late 1960s after graduating from MCHS in 1963):

      In the fall of 1991, the Parent Committees of Sir Winston Churchill High School and St. Laurent High School were presented with proposals from the school board for the future secondary education in St. Laurent. The plan drawing the most support was one calling for the closure of both schools and the creation of a new entity, a school combining the strengths of Sir Winston Churchill and St. Laurent while offering the best opportunities for all students in the community.

      A committee made up of administrators, teachers, students and parents was created. Every aspect of the new school was discussed and after lengthy discussion, an agreement was finally reached.

      Gail Ewing, a staff member, created the name for the new school by combining the “Lauren” from St. Laurent and the “Hill” from Winston Churchill. LaurenHill was born, becoming in the fall of 1992 the center of English high school education in St.Laurent.

      [End]

    • Ken Kingsbury says:

      Thanks Frank! I was wondering where Mr. Ramcharan went when MCHS was closed after the 1987 term. When he started at Sir Winston Churchill in the fall , 1987, he would have been just turning 64 on September 7. Very sad he died less than a year later.

  24. Bert Eccles says:

    Although Mr. Ramcharan was at MCHS during my four years there, I never had him as a math teacher. In spite of that, I was aware of his nickname virtually from the start, as a friend who did have him informed me of it.

    According to the story I was told, the dynamic sobriquet was given because of the whiplike sound that the creases in Mr. Ramcharan’s trousers made as he walked briskly through the corridors.

    I am curious to know whether the report is accurate and also when the nickname originated. It would be particularly interesting to know who came up with the description, as it has apparently lasted for decades!

    On a similar theme, there was a legendary French teacher at MCHS who was given the unflattering nickname of “Captain Queeg” in 1967-1968. A classmate of mine coined the expression after determining that he saw behaviouristic parallels between the teacher and the key character from Herman Wouk’s Pulitzer Prize novel “The Caine Mutiny”. Humphrey Bogart portrayed the paranoid Queeg in Edward Dmytryk’s 1954 movie version of the book.

    Each day as our Grade Eleven French class was about to start, we lined up outside the teacher’s classroom. One classmate (not the creator of the nickname) took great joy in standing at the rear of the line and bellowing out, “Hey Queeg!” when the teacher invited us inside. Although this was obviously rude and uncalled-for, it was also quite funny at the time – particularly since the teacher never acknowledged what had been said. Either he was hard of hearing or he felt it would be politically best just to ignore it.

    Further references to “Captain Queeg” appeared in “The Invisible Circle” – not surprisingly, since the expression’s originator was one of the four co-creators of that 1968 “underground” MCHS newspaper.

    Freddie the Whip and Captain Queeg: two unforgettable nicknames! Undoubtedly there were others also.

    • Jaan Pill Jaan Pill says:

      From what I recall seeing and hearing, and on occasion participating in myself, when I was a student at schools run by the Protestant School Board of Greater Montreal (I graduated demo MCHS in 1963), both students and teachers were capable of a lot of good-natured bantering back and forth.

      It was also evident that sometimes it would have been hard (and sometimes it would not have been hard at all), for a neutral observer to determine, the point at which goings-on, on the part of both students and teachers, would proceed from good-natured fun to phenomenon where other aspects of human nature were given free rein.

      It’s a Sunday morning, as I write this. I have stopped for a coffee to consider what else comes to mind, as I ponder days gone by – and as I ponder the current era, in which we live.

      As has always been the case, I would say, in human history, human nature within a school system, as within a given society outside of the schools, can manifest itself in a wide range of ways.

      I note from comments I’ve read, at this post and/or at the MCHS Facebook pages, that Mr Ramcharan had a skill at classroom management. Then, as now, such a skill is essential for good teaching to take place.

      As a retired teacher, I marvel at how much I have learned, over the length of my teaching career, in schools across the Greater Toronto Area, about human nature and the many ways – the majority of them delightful, and on rare but significant cases decidedly less delightful – in which it can manifest itself.

      As a retired teacher, I also marvel at how two codes of conduct, and two codes of perception, are at play within educational systems, as within the society of large. There is, that is to say, an official curriculum, and an unofficial curriculum.

      I have a friend who was an administrator, before his retirement. He was the principal at the last school where I taught, when I was an elementary teacher in Mississauga, at Munden Park School, during the final eleven years of my teaching career. Before that, I had taught at the Scarborough Board of Education, in the days before it became part of the Toronto District School Board. Still earlier, I was a Special Education teacher with the Metropolitan Toronto School Board.

      The things that I learned, during those years of making a living as a teacher, were quite remarkable – especially as it related to unofficial and official curricula.

      I guess one way to sum up what I learned was a saying, from the principal I worked with at Munden Park, and with whom in post-retirement years I used to organize many Jane’s Walks, in the neighbourhood in Toronto where I live now.

      That saying, that Mike James often shared with me, is that, from his perspective as an administrator, in the educational system, “Perception is reality.”

      So, now I stop for my second cup of coffee, of the day, and think about what else comes to mind, by way of a conclusion to my comments.

      Part of the unofficial curriculum is that at the official level, curriculum documents are drafted, published, and disseminated as a matter of course, as the decades come and go, within educational systems across Canada.

      I have much more, that comes to mind. However, the current post is long enough. I will continue this text as a separate post – and I owe you many thanks, Bert, for enabling me to ponder many things, about delightful things that happened at Malcolm Campbell High School, many years ago.

  25. Lynne Cullen says:

    About Lynn Berry’s story about the snowball, well that wasn’t a guy, that was me! Lynne Hogbin. I will never forget that day, I loved Mr Ramcharan. He was my favourite high school teacher. I had him for home room in grade 8 and again for math in grade 11. If not for him I would have failed math!

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