I truly believe that the Arabic and Islam teachers I had as a child were actually rejects from some form of society of torturers and humiliators, but got kicked out because they had earned all their de Sade badges they could and had learned all there was to learn about inflicting suffering on little children.
I remember, Miss Mussarah (best I can spell it in English), with her skeletal face tightly wrapped by her head scarf, emphasizing her mummy-like qualities. What a piece of work that woman was! Not a day went by that she didn't mocked my inability to grasp the Arabic language, despised my being half British, and sought to humiliate me in front of my friends. In the second grade, I remember when she told us to get to work, and I was determined to finally make her pleased with me, so I put on my best "let's get to work" face, but she still decided to swoop in and smack away that arm that was propping up my head for no reason other than I wasn't getting to work fast enough, in her opinion. At least the only ears she pulled were the boys', for some reason she spared me that. What I really hated was when she came from behind so I had no warning of her presence until I felt her hand hit the crown of my head.
Gee, I wonder why I wasn't learning Arabic too well? I had her for two or three years, I forget. My mother and I didn't know why I had stomach aches going to school every day, so she took me to the doctor and it was there that everyone found out that it was fear making me ill. The school put an observer in the classroom for ONE DAY.
I bumped into Mrs. Mussarah years later and she said hi to me, so I walked on past and picked up my sister. It would have been useless to say anything, so I didn't bother.
What about Islam class? We had a Palestinian teacher, so the classroom was her soap box to preach hatred of Christians and Jews. She showed disappointment when one of her snitches told of my best friend who is Christian (and she still is my best friend!) and I was told that I really shouldn't play with her anymore. I was sick of trying to hide my friendship, so I lied and told my teacher I had told my friend about Islam and that she wanted to convert. She was delighted and for the only time ever, smiled at me and gave me a hug. If you can't beat 'em... She also lied and said Islam was so much more "pure" than Christianity, because while the Christians bickered amidst various denominations, Islam had no such sectarianism. I think the rising tension between Shias and Sunnis begs to differ.
And then there was the fact that she told me my parents were going to hell. That kinda sucked too. My mother, because she was "Christian" (actually, she doesn't practice any religion short of the holidays) and my father because he was an alcoholic. She wasn't just name-calling, he really was an alcoholic, and apparently all the good things he'd done for his fellow man didn't amount to a hill of beans next to his sad dependency on fermented vegetables and grains to get through each day.
At least she wasn't a hitter, but she did cut our nails with scissors. Apparently, Satan lives under your nails and if you'd forgotten to cut them before class on the days that she randomly inspected them, you'd be in for a treat. I got many a nick from those damn orange-handled scissors. It makes me laugh nowadays when people comment on how fast my nails grow and how great they look when they're long!
All I learned about Islam from that woman is that the incarnate of evil could reside under your cuticles, Jews and Christians and alcoholics will all go to hell, and... Um... Nope, that's it. That's all I learned about an entire religion from that woman. And as for my Arabic? I can understand a lot of spoken Arab and can read written Arabic without fully understanding it, but I'm too afraid to try to speak it unless it's to make fun of someone's mother or to sing an Amr Diab song.
Oh wait. I DID learn something from these women! Something invaluable that I will cherish forever and use every day of my life:
How NOT to teach kids.