An Apple For The Teacher

For today’s art challenge prompt of fruit, I thought back to childhood again and the simple act of bringing an apple to my teacher. This, of course, is not even allowed in some schools now, but is a tradition that had been around for hundreds of years. Initially for poorer students in Denmark and Sweden, it consisted of an entire basket of apples as payment to the teacher for a child’s education. Here in the United States, back in frontier times, teachers were housed by families and apples were simply given as a way to feed them. Later, after the Great Depression, the more negative term of “apple polisher” came into vogue, a term referring to getting in the good graces of teachers, but has since become a term used to mean anyone who bribes someone important for personal gain. Yet, that’s not how I remember it at all. Instead, it was simply a way to show Mrs. Smith your affection without revealing your secret crush. And teachers, after all, are among the most important people on the planet, so they deserve all the kindness one can give.

It was quite common for boys to have crushes on their teachers, who were all female in my school at the time. Nothing tawdry or awful, just a little thrill and joy in seeing them each day. At least the nice and helpful teachers. As I recall, Mrs. Smith would have never actually made my crush list as she was always a bit mean in my mind at the time. But most all of my other teachers fell into the “you’re so awesome and when I grow up I want to marry someone just like you” camp. In truth, these amazing women in my life, were the first role models I ever had. They didn’t just teach me about art and mathematics, they taught me how to be a better person. Well, little person, who might one day grow into a wonderful and kind adult. It’s no small feat to mold the course of a little human. We’re crazy creatures full of all sorts of potential and a potential for everything to just go incredibly wrong.

But, yes, there are tons of jobs that pay far better in life, unfortunately. So I feel extra fortunate to know people who really love to teach. It’s so incredibly important to have people like that in the world to make sure the rest of us turn out okay in the end. And, if I could, although I know not one of them is reading this, I’d like to take a moment to thank all of my teachers from my childhood. You were amazing and though I don’t remember every project we did together or exactly what homework you assigned, I’ll never forget what you taught me. Sometimes in life we learn facts and figures, but in those other, more special times, we learn about life and how to live it to our best potential. And, even today, whenever I feel discouraged, I ask myself what Mrs. Hughes might say to me. Even stern Mrs. Smith would say, “get over it already and stop fidgeting!” Sage advice now that I look back on it. Thanks, Mrs. Smith, I owe you an apple.

About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Nickel Azo Yellow, Quinacridone Red, Leaf Green, Benzimida Orange, Terra Cotta and Cobalt Blue. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!
 Day 24 - An Apple For The Teacher Watercolor - #doodlewashMay2018 Doodlewash

Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!

Recommended5 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie
32 Comments
  1. Mary Roff 3 months ago

    Lovely painting and tribute to our hardworking teachers.

  2. Sandra Strait 3 months ago

    Tasty-looking apple! Any teacher would be happy to have it. I hate to think of what the relationship is between teachers and students would be like these days. Teachers are expected to be fill in where parents are lacking and at the same time they must tread the minefield of an abundance of rules and regulations.They’d have to love teaching to put up with it all.

    • krcc 3 months ago

      Agreed, tasty-looking is right!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Thanks, Sandra! 😃💕 So true… there is an insane amount of new things to deal with these days when being a teacher. Which makes teachers even more amazing that they battle through it all!

  3. Lisa 3 months ago

    Great essay! Yes to teachers! Thanks to Mrs. Cabot for teaching me to love books and reading!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Thanks, Lisa! 😃💕 And yay to Mrs. Cabot! That’s such an amazing thing to learn!

  4. louiseaprimeau 3 months ago

    As a teacher, I have to say that nothing warms the heart more than former students thanking me when they meet me out in the community. I am always amazed at the moments they remember from being in my classroom. Thank YOU Charlie, for remembering teachers, especially at this time of the year when they are swamped with final grading of papers, preparations for exams, graduation and prom.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Aww thanks, Louise! 😃💕 And even though you weren’t one of my teachers back then, you’re certainly one of my teachers now, and I thank you my friend! Teachers are exceptional people and I will always hold them in the highest regard. ❤️

  5. SnehLata Maheshwari 3 months ago

    Mind blowing Apple lie.
    Liked it.
    Thanks so much

  6. Sharon Nolfi 3 months ago

    A wonderful tribute to your teachers and to teachers everywhere! They certainly deserve it. Absolutely beautiful apple.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Thanks so much, Sharon! 😃💕 Yes! Teachers are amazing… I could never express my gratitude in a lifetime.

  7. Claire 3 months ago

    Again a fantastic illustration & great story – some revelations in the story for me. A wonderful tribute to teaches too 🍎

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Thanks so much, Claire! 😃💕 Teachers are amazing! So happy you enjoyed this one!

  8. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 3 months ago

    You just gave all your teachers the most beautiful apple and books painting. What a sweet treat. I wonder if any of your childhood teachers follow your blog?

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Aww thanks, Sharon! 😃💕 I hope I gave teachers something lovely to enjoy. And yeah, I don’t think any of my teachers follow my blog today. If they do, I hope they’ll comment!

  9. Bekki Page 3 months ago

    Love this piece! My favorite teachers still shine like stars in my memory.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Aww thanks, Bekki! 😃💕Yes! Teachers are the best and will always be my stars!

  10. Phil Cooper 3 months ago

    Yay! Great to read your post in praise of teachers Charlie, they’re soooo important, they can really help set us for life. My Dad was a teacher all his life and I ended up in his class at secondary school where I had the weird experience of having to call my dad ‘Mr. Cooper’ lol. I’m in awe of great teachers, their patience and dedication changes lives. And what a wonderful apple you’ve painted I’m sure your teachers appreciate it 😊

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Sooo sorry for the delay in response. For some bizarre reason WordPress spammed your comment. Sorry about that! LOVE that you dad was a teacher, Phil! 😃💕Oh wait, sorry… Mr. Cooper… hehe.. I bet that was a bit weird! So happy you enjoyed this post!

  11. Ellie 3 months ago

    Wonderful post, Charlie! We all owe so much to those people who shaped our lives without us even knowing it. Teachers are one of our greatest resources.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Thanks, Ellie!! 😃💕 So true! Teachers give us so much in life… I can’t thank them enough!

  12. Jacob 3 months ago

    Lush apple! I grew up wanting to be a teacher, so they have done something right – I was very lucky with them, mostly. It soon dawned on me, though, that I could never do what they do!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Thanks, Jacob! 😃💕 I agree! Teachers are truly inspirational. I had a brief foray into teaching at a local Art Institute and loved it. But it’s sooooo tough to do what they do! I just left with a newfound respect. 😉

  13. smzang 3 months ago

    two of my favorite things…Books and apples

    This is scrumptious!

  14. There was only one man in our all girls school yet no one had a crush on him… we all had crushes on our geography teacher…or each other! 🙂 I completely agree that teachers are not given enough recognition, either financially or respect wise…like stay at home mums/dads… when they have so much responsibility on their hands with regards to the future of our world… amazing painting, I love the black outlines! Hugs.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Thanks so much! 😃💕 Glad you liked this! Yes, teachers of all kinds deserve so much more recognition than they get. It’s definitely the most important job in the world!

  15. Apples & Mangos 3 months ago

    Delicious! Thanks for sharing your apple memories. We had an apple tree in our yard that provided well for my early childhood. What’s not to like about a tree that provides shelter, swings, fruit, and shade? I’m new to blogging. Thanks for your teaching example!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Thanks so much! 😃💕 And welcome to blogging my friend! It’s a very fun journey! Totally agree with your apple tree assessment… what’s not to love about that? 😉

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