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This Multiplication Doesn’t Add Up

| CA, USA | Exams/Tests, Math & Science, Parents, Teachers, Top

(My daughter is in third grade. Her regular teacher is on an extended medical leave for a few weeks, and the school gets a long-term substitute. After the first math quiz with the substitute, my daughter comes home in tears: despite the fact that she got all the answers right, her grade is very low. I go to talk to the teacher.)

Me: “Ms. [Teacher], can you explain why you gave [Daughter] a C on the math quiz? I have looked at it, and she got all the answers right.”

Teacher: “Although all her answers are right, instead of putting down what she was supposed to memorize from the multiplication set, she broke down the numbers and figured out the answer on the margin. See? The very first item is 12×7, and instead of just writing 84, like she was supposed to, she wrote on the margins: 10×7 = 70, 2×7 = 14, 10+14 = 84. She did the same for many of the items as well. She is supposed to memorize the answers, not work them out.”

Me: “Are you seriously grading my daughter down because she understands how numbers work? I agree that she should memorize the multiplication tables, and I will work on them with her, but it seems strange to demand rote memorization at the expense of mathematical reasoning.”

Teacher: “I understand your frustration, Mrs. [My Name], but girls often have problems with math even in this day and age. What if she figured it out wrong? Memorizing the answers is really more productive because she will always get it right.”

Me: “Actually, it’s Dr. [My Name], not Mrs. I am a professor of Mathematics at [Nearby University]. And no, girls don’t have any more problems with math than boys do, unless they get a completely inept and sexist teacher. For your information, figuring it wrong allows children to practice and learn how to do it right. Memorizing the answers without understanding the math behind them does nothing.”

(I talked to the principal about this substitute, but unfortunately she could not be removed from the classroom until the regular teacher came back. Thank God, it happened at the beginning of the year, and my daughter had a much better experience learning math with her regular teacher.)

Germaniac

| New Zealand | Language & Words, Teachers, Top

(My science teacher goes on maternity leave for three quarters of the year. We get a reliever in the meantime, a friendly middle-aged woman with a pronounced German accent. The class, unfortunately, was a bit unruly at times and there is always some sort of chatter.)

Teacher: “Okay, students, if you would get out your workbooks and…”

Students: *chattering*

Teachers: *irritated* “…and open to your homework from last week.”

Students: *louder chattering*

Teacher: “Excuse me. I am trying to teach the class. Would you please be quiet?”

(By now the noise has gotten almost cacophonous, and my desk mates and I can barely hear the teacher from about six feet away.)

Teacher: “EXCUSE ME!”

(The teacher then proceeds to rattle off a very angry sounding string of German, accompanied with sharp arm movements and a stern expression. Everyone instantly goes silent.)

Teacher: *smiling* “Thank you. Now, if you would get your workbooks out…”

(For the first time since the teacher had started, the whole class was completely silent for the entire period. After class, I approached her about it.)

Me: “Excuse me, Miss? Can I ask what you said in German earlier?”

Teacher: *almost laughing* “I just read the lesson plan out really angrily!”

Forward Thinking

| Geneva, Switzerland | Exams/Tests, Math & Science, Top

(Although I get excellent marks at school, I find the work too easy and I’m often bored. I am sitting a maths exam. I answer all the questions until I get to this one.)

Question: “David is in a hotel and wants to go skiing. His skis are two metres long, and the doorway of his room is 1.8m high and 0.5m wide. Will he be able to get his skis through the doorway?

(I do the calculations and write down the answer.)

Me: “According to the Pythagorean theorem, no, David will not be able to get his skis through the doorway.”

(I finish the test, but I’ve still got a long time before my time is up and I’m bored, so I decide to have a bit of fun. I go back to the ski question and add a sentence to my answer.)

Me: “But if David really wants to go skiing, he can always walk through the door holding his skis horizontally.”

(I hand in the test. Several weeks later, we get the results back.)

Student #1: “Hey, I got the answer right on the skis question, but I only got half the points!”

Student #2: “Me, too!”

Me: “That’s funny. I got all the points.”

Student #1: “[Teacher], that’s not fair! How come [My Name] got all the points and we didn’t?”

Teacher: “Because she was the only one to figure out that it’s possible to hold skis horizontally!”

It’s Hard Work When You’re Hardly Working, Part 2

| IL, USA | Bad Behavior, Job Seekers, Lazy/Unhelpful, Students, Top

(The bell just rang announcing the end of class. A student walks up to my desk and tosses a pile of papers in front of me. This student has never once turned in an assignment and not only failed first semester, but currently has 29% in my class.)

Me: “What is all this?” *staring at papers in confusion*

Student: “Oh, you need to put your name right there.”

Me: “Why?”

Student: “Because you need to put your name right there!”

Me: “No, I’m not asking where to write my name. I’m asking why you need my name on these papers.”

Student: “Oh. I need you to put your name there because I’m applying for a part-time job and you’re going to be my reference. So you need to put your information on my application.”

Me: “Okay. For one, you need to rephrase what you just said. Are you ASKING me to be a reference for you?”

Student: “I guess. Will you be a reference for me?”

Me: “That brings me to my second point. You do realize you are failing my class? Correct?”

Student: “Yeah, I realize that. I’m not stupid.”

Me: “Okay. You are failing my class, have never turned in a single assignment, and you want ME to be the one your potential boss calls to ask about your work ethic?”

Student: “Well, yeah. You’ll just tell them I’m a hard-worker.”

Me: “I will only be your reference if you understand that I will NOT lie for you. I wouldn’t even lie for a friend.”

Student: “Oh, come on! I need this job!”

Me: “No.”

Student: “God, seriously?! What is so difficult about telling them I’m a hard worker?! You just don’t even know my true work ethic! You’re just making assumptions based on some strange idea you have that what I do in your class shows anything about me!”

Me: “No. I’m forming my opinion based on what you DON’T do in my class. And that’s work.”

Student: *grabs papers in a huff and storms off*

Related:
It’s Hard Work When You’re Hardly Working

Wherefore Art Thou Passing Grade?

| NY, USA | Books & Reading, Students, Teachers, Top

(I am in freshman English class reading ‘Romeo and Juliet.’  It’s the last class of the day and it’s a warm spring day, so no one wants to be there. There are only two girls in the class so some of the boys, myself included, get female parts from time to time. This day I am reading Lady Capulet. A boy reads his line in a very monotone and dry manner.)

Teacher: “Come on, guys. Tybalt was just murdered! There was a fight! Put some emotion into it!”

(The next boy reads his line also very monotone. At this my teacher just slumps into her seat in defeat. It’s now my turn to read Lady Capulet’s monologue accusing Romeo of killing Tybalt. I summon all the femininity, rage, and pain to my voice and deliver the speech, standing up in the middle of the speech, knocking over my chair, and then collapsing to the ground when I’m done. My teacher looks up with tears in her eyes.)

Teacher: “[My Name], you just got an ‘A’ for the rest of the year. Don’t even bother coming to class anymore.”


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