As freshmen in high school, my classmates and I learned about the workings of internal combustion engines as part of our general science class. In a move that seemed ill-advised to say the least, the teacher led the class as we acted out the steps of a four-stroke engine. Our loose fists served as makeshift pistons as we went through the motions.
“Intake,” she said, and we all moved our fists down.
“Compression.” Our fists went up again.
“POWER.” Our fists went back down, forcefully.
“Exhaust.” Up again went our fists.
It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to understand why these motions would send a class of adolescents into hysterical laughter. At the time, I think we imagined that the teacher didn’t even know why were laughing, which must have been dead wrong. For many years after high school, I thought back and wondered what she was thinking. Obviously, she didn’t know the first thing about handling a group of teenagers. Otherwise, why would she teach in a manner that would so surely send students into peals of laughter?
However, when I was recently reminiscing about high school and this topic came up in conversation, something occurred to me. Perhaps the teacher knew exactly what she was doing and she was much more clever than we gave her credit for. Maybe it was pure genius. She had devised a teaching method to ensure that few, if any, of her students would ever forget how an internal combustion engine works. Kudos to you, Ms. Kaus, I still remember.