Can A Strict Teacher Be A Good Teacher?
Most of us have had a strict teacher at one time or another, and some of us have had several. When the semester was finally over, or we moved on to the next grade, it was often good riddance. On the other hand, there was the occasional strict teacher whom we came to admire, and came to respect, if not to love.
At the one extreme you have the strict teacher who is, for lack of a better word, a dictator. With this type of a teacher it's often "my way or the highway". High school kids can often put up with such a teacher if it's the only teacher of that type they have. Grade school kids can really suffer though, especially since they have the same teacher all day, day in and day out. College students, who feel getting a poor grade may be worth the price paid, may rebel.
Once in awhile we can look back on a particularly strict teacher, one whom we may not have liked at all, and come to realize that teacher actually taught us a great deal. And once in awhile, when we meet a strict teacher outside of the confines of the classroom, that person suddenly seems like a much mellower, and even friendly individual.
Bad - It's too easy to place all strict teachers in a single category. On the negative side, there are teachers who seem to be more interest in maintaining absolute discipline that in teaching a subject well. Some teachers actually fear a breakdown in discipline so much that practically all of their energy is directed towards maintaining a tight ship. A few, and fortunately very few, are simply mean spirited individuals.
But Not All Bad - On the other hand, there are those teachers who, while being more strict than would seem to be necessary, but are great instructors. While we may feel the need to go to great lengths at times to stay on such a teacher's good side, we often leave the class with a good feeling, one of having learned something as well as having learned to be a survivor.
Some teachers almost have to be strict, the more obvious examples being athletic coaches and Army or Marine drill instructors. When you are in a situation where the objective is to first break you down, and then build you back up into something better, a great deal of discipline is often called for. That's OK for the Army recruit or for the athlete trying to make a college football team, but it's not OK for a grade school student.
An Seldom Experienced Example - A strict teacher who practices tough love should never be put in the same category as the strict teacher who is sadistic, a controlling person, or simply incompetent. While a junior in college I once took a course in advanced mathematics where the teacher treated us, 19 and 20 year old students, like we were in kindergarten - no talking, sit up straight, don't be looking out of the window, make certain you finish your homework, etc. We were given those rules more than once. Disbelief gradually turned to resentment, then to resignation, acceptance, and finally, by the end of the semester, to appreciation. She was an excellent teacher!
The best way to deal with an overly strict teacher is to show that teacher respect, but at the same time avoid groveling or attempting to become teacher's pet. If nothing else, you'll probably bond more closely with your classmates. At school reunions you can always talk about being taking algebra from “Old So-And-So”, and laugh about it. If there is area where there's really no place for an overly strict teacher, it's the primary grades.