John Adams, the country’s second president, called his students “little runtlings.” Not exactly what you want in a teacher.
He taught in a one-room schoolhouse in Worcester, Mass., when he was barely 20 years old and still figuring out what he wanted to do with his life. His parents wanted him to be a minister, and he pondered farming and a career in law. As a teacher, he taught a dozen co-ed students but was hardly dedicated. He allowed the smartest students to lead the classes while he wrote letters and read books. Egocentric, perhaps, Adams called himself the school’s dictator, writing, “I have several renowned generals but three feet high, and several deep, projecting politicians in petticoats.” Luckily for his students, Adams left teaching to study law before becoming president in 1797.
(Image: Official Presidential Portrait/Library of Congress)