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home : insight & opinion : guest columns July 25, 2017

6/13/2017 2:01:00 PM
Today's leaders should have had Mr. Muir
For the Daily News

Harold Muir taught mechanical drawing and shop at Robinson High School. He was also my adviser while doing my electricity merit badge for Eagle Scout. He was my toughest teacher - period. I should mention that I am an honors graduate of a Chicago Law School and was threatened for three years with how hard the bar exam was going to be. I finished early and laughed. It wasn't nearly as tough as Mr. Muir had been on me.

Shop and mechanical drawing were where the school sent the troublemakers out of study hall so they didn't throw paper airplanes and do such other fun things. The library had already made a list of us and we were no longer allowed there, so it was a simple matter for the guidance office to pick it up and just enroll us "for our own good."

I was glad to go, actually, but didn't care all that much about mechanical drawing. Well, sir, it didn't matter if you were interested or not, Mr. Muir was going to teach you the right way, the only way, to do things and there would be no discussion or argument. He led the way, literally, and had mastered all of the skills he was expecting us tackle.

Once we figured that out, we settled down and got to work trying to keep this little guy from humiliating us by doing something we couldn't do. It may have been a guy thing; I don't know if girls were competitve with one another like we were or not. But boys like to show off, and in his class the only way you got to do that was doing something the correct way. For the cover sheet on our last assignment, which was to make a folio of our coursework, I drew a schematic blow-up drawing of an overhead-cam Honda 450 motor. He approved.

Harold was not our friend, he was our leader. He led by example, decency, and competence in his skills. He didn't have to tell us how great he was, and I never heard him swear or demean anyone. He got our respect because he deserved it.

I say this because as complicated as things may appear in the world right now, the answer is really simple. If the leaders of today had just had mechanical drawing with Mr. Muir, the world would be a much, much better place.

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