In Grade ten, you told us all that we couldn't write and that we couldn't think, but by the end of your course in European history, we would be well-equipped to do both. Your glasses kept on slipping down your absurdly tiny nose, which forced you to assume a perpetual squint. For the first half of the school year, I don't recall any actual history; classes became a boot camp in essay writing and grammar. I handed in essay outlines on index cards, which would come back to me with notes like "you can't spell!" or "filler!". Despite all that, I liked you and your bone-dry assessments of our skills. Somehow you managed to combine the harshest criticsm I've ever received with the tacit conviction that I was capable of meeting and exceeding your standards.