Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Sherman Channel

Tonight I am waxing nostalgic about a strange science teacher from the 1980s.

Mr. Sherman arrived sometime during that decade, the next in a revolving door of Quantitative Physical Science teachers that the school couldn't seem to hang onto for more than a couple of years. Mr. Sherman came from M.I.T., I think, (back then we used to hire teachers from schools of that caliber) and settled, as a batchelor, in the dorm that consisted of juniors.

Mr. Sherman was a tall man, unusually tall, with a mop of sometimes-clean hair and a pair of shaded glasses that were either the nerdiest glasses ever or kin to the ones Peter Fonda wore in Easy Rider.  Evidence pointed toward the former.

Possessed of almost no social skills, Mr. Sherman quickly found himself at home on a boy's school campus, where students have little understanding of a teacher's life outside of school and so embrace everyone's campus role.  Mr. Sherman was weird, but he was cool-weird.  He knew stuff, and he could apply it.

In the dorm, during the era of the Apple IIe and the MacIntosh, Mr. Sherman knew how to link his computer to others in the dorm.  And so, he created "The Sherman Channel," a primitive network that allowed him to post announcements, like what VHS movie he would be showing when he was on dorm duty.

At campus dances, he would bring his laser and project lines, circles, and squiggles on the wall that moved in time with the music.

At the faculty golf tournament, he tested the theory that the only club anyone needs is a driver, and though this theory didn't bear weight, we all took great befuddled joy in his attempt to master the course with a single club.  Perhaps if he actually knew how to play golf, he might have been onto something.

Where Mr. Sherman went, I have no idea.  He was not easy to talk to, and I was not close with him.  Everything that he encountered was a laboratory to him, a chance to try out some experiment, and that probably isn't a recipe for making friends or putting down roots.  As I said, QPS was a revolving door at that time, and so no one was surprised when Sherman was gone.

But this year, we have installed video monitors all over campus--there may be some 38 of them before we are all done.  They show photographs and the weather and announcements and offer a high-tech way to try to connect the people at our school with shared information.

Back then, with nothing much in the way of technology, Mr. Sherman found a way to link computers in his dorm in a way that was fun for boys, that made them feel like they had a special connection during a difficult year.  When I walk around now and see the monitors and their almost-overwhelming presence, I think of Mr. Sherman, and I think, he knew.  He knew.


Anonymous said...

Mr. Sherman was one awesomely crazy dude. He might not have proved that 1 club was all you needed, but some might argue that the Sherman principal of 1 suit was adequately supported.

troutking said...

He sounds fun.

rodle said...

I bet he could figure out how to hack into those campus screens. That would be cool

Bob said...

Rodle: duh.