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Sunday, April 29, 2018

He taught for 17 years in a University and he could not read

Por mayli2017

He taught different courses at the university, was a sports coach, offered social studies classes, typing, had the ability to type at 65 words per minute but did not know what he was writing. John Corcoran is a rare and particular case of a professor who taught at the university for 17 years without knowing how to read. He never wrote on the board and there was not a single word printed in the room. They watched a lot of movies and made many debates. One of his biggest fears was the teachers' meetings, once a week and as part of the meeting there was a session of ideas, the rector asked someone to write them on the board.

John Corcoran became a high school teacher in the 60s, a job he held for 17 years. However, during all that time and more, he hid an extraordinary secret. When he was little his parents told him that he was a winner and, during the first six years of his life, he believed it. It took a while before I could speak, but went to school with high hopes of learning to read like his sisters. At the beginning, things went well because they did not demand more than stopping in line, sitting down, keeping quiet and going to the bathroom when he played. At school, he ended up sharing a group with children who had reading problems.

The teachers, however, assured their parents that he was an intelligent child, so they passed the grade. But he was not learning. By the time he reached fifth grade, he basically gave up on reading. He woke up every morning, dressed, went to school as if he were going to war. The classroom for him was a hostile environment and he had to find how to survive. Corcoran wanted to be an athlete and had the skills to be an athlete, he also had mathematical ability. He could count money and give the change before going to school. He never confessed to anyone that he could not read. In exams, he would pass his sheet to a classmate to answer the questions and that was quite easy.

However, once arrived at the university, with a full athletic scholarship, the story was different. Concoran was part of a university social group that had copies of old exams. That was a way to cheat. He tried to take classes with a classmate, someone who could help him and although teachers who repeated the same exam year after year, for different subjects he was forced to appeal to more creative and desperate ways.

On one occasion, the teacher wrote four questions on the board, he was sitting at the end of the class, near the window, in his notebook, he wrote meticulously the four questions on the board without knowing what they were saying. Previously he had agreed with a friend to be near the window, in exchange the friend had asked him to help him to flirt with a girl, he handed her his notebook and the boy answered the questions for him. Until one day he realized and questioned the fact why he did not look for help.

The teachers and their parents had told him that people with university degrees obtained better jobs, lived better and that was his only purpose. Once graduated, because of the scarcity of professors, they offer him work at the university. There, Concoran knew that this was the most illogical thing he could do. Being a teacher was a good way to hide. No one would suspect that a teacher could not read.