Great Coach, Subpar Teacher

By Dr. Robert Wallace

February 28, 2020 6 min read

DR. WALLACE: I've got an unusual problem with my history teacher. He rarely teaches actual history! The reason is that he is also our head basketball coach. Most of the time, he gives our class mindless busywork while he works on basketball stuff. We also have two of his players in the class, and he spends a lot of time talking basketball with them at his desk.

A lot of the kids in his class like this teacher because he is considered to be an easy grader. I'm getting an A in the class, but I must admit that I'm not learning very much. That makes me feel cheated because my lack of history knowledge will hurt me when I'm in college in a few years. What should I do about this? He thinks winning basketball games is more important than teaching history. Don't get me wrong, he is a very nice man and is well respected and well liked by all students. He has a smile and a kind word for all of his students, not just his players.

And while he is a lousy history teacher, he is a very good coach. Last year, our varsity basketball team won our conference championship. That's all well and good, but what's more important — winning basketball games or learning about world history? — Worried About My College Admissions, via email

WORRIED ABOUT COLLEGE ADMISSIONS: You came to the right place for your answer. I was also a high school teacher (English) and the varsity basketball coach at the same time. While I enjoyed coaching basketball very, very much, my prime responsibility was teaching the subject matter in the classroom.

Make an appointment to meet with this teacher after class during his office hours. Be polite, and explain that you would like more of a challenging academic experience in his classroom. Ask him if you (and other like-minded students) could work on a special project or be assigned more challenging homework in this class. Your request will be unique and should draw a favorable response. If you are still not satisfied after this meeting, your next stop would be to discuss this matter with your parents and your school counselor. You deserve to be challenged with the subject material to prepare you for college someday.


DR. WALLACE: I'm a 19-year-old woman and have a good job working for an insurance company. I'm dating a guy in our company's office who is quite a bit older than I am. He is the first guy I have fallen for. He is my true love, and I would like to have a serious relationship with him that could lead to us getting married someday. But he recently said to me that marriage is out of the question because he has been married and divorced twice before! He also has three children by three different women (one with each ex and one with a waitress he met on a business trip in another state).

Yesterday, he told me right to my face that he would never get married again. But he held my hand, looked deep into my eyes and told me that he loves me and wants to keep our relationship strong and long-lasting. He also said that there might come a time when we can live together someday, but that would be far into the future, if at all.

Worst of all for me, I'm not positive that he loves me. He could just be using me. We have a very active sex life. I'm really confused now and don't know what I should do. Sometimes I feel like I should look elsewhere for love, and then there are times when I think that I might be able to change his mind regarding marriage. What's my best option now, in your opinion? — No Future Plans, via mail

NO FUTURE PLANS: I do agree with your belief that this guy may be using you and will do everything possible, short of marriage, to keep you on hand for his satisfaction and to ward off his loneliness.

I advise you to end this relationship and continue looking for your true love. This guy simply doesn't qualify for what you need. He says that he loves you, but he is not too worried about your needs or desires. Most women your age in serious relationships would like to see the relationship end in a happy marriage. He obviously is only thinking of his own wants and needs at this point in his life. He has three children to support and probably has alimony payments, and as things stand, he has no intention of marrying you. You would be wasting precious years of your life staying with him under the guise that you might "sway his thinking" someday.

Simply put, you deserve better. And trust me, there is a better man for you out there in the pool of available men. Take your time, and get back into a dating mode with other, more compatible partners. I trust that one matches up with your personality and your long-term desires in life.

Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Photo credit: Wokandapix at Pixabay

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