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  • Taking A Stab At The Obvious Answer

    | Queens, NY, USA | Family & Kids, Food & Drink, Students

    (I am sitting chatting with an eight-year-old student at the end of the day.)

    Me: “So, what are you going to have for dinner?”

    Student: “Beef, chicken, french fries, macaroni and cheese, and beans.”

    Me: “Wow! How are you going to eat it all?”

    Student: “With a fork.”

    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.)

    In An Out-Of-Shape State

    | CA, USA | Geography, Students

    (We are studying the US state capitals in class, and the teacher is quizzing us on them.)

    Teacher: “What is the capital of Connecticut?”

    Class: *silence*

    Teacher: “Umm… here’s a hint: It’s a shape and a car.”

    Student: “Square Lamborghini!”

    (It’s really Hartford. We still laugh about that to this day.)

    Back Track

    | Germany | Bizarre/Silly, Exams/Tests, Students, Theme Of The Month

    (I substitute in a local elementary school. So far, most third grade tests have been connect-the-dots, fill-in-the-blanks, etc. But now, there are also questions that need written answers. One particular insecure boy shies away from questions like that and generally leaves them blank.)

    Me: *to all students* “Now, remember to answer ALL the questions. Even if you are not sure of your answer, write something anyway. If you leave it blank it is definitely considered ‘wrong’ and you won’t get any points. So, anything you write is better than nothing.”

    (The insecure boy stands up to hand me his finished test. I don’t take the paper away from him yet, to make sure he has a chance to answer everything.)

    Me: “Did you answer all the questions?”

    Student: “Yes.”

    Me: “Are you sure you did? Do you want to look it over one more time just to make sure?”

    Student: *still holding his test paper* “Yes. I answered all the questions. Except the one on the back. I didn’t see that one.”

    Don’t Put Your Faith In This Teacher

    | USA | Bigotry, Religion, Teachers

    (I am in fourth grade. It is December, and my class is in music. Our teacher is explaining how different religions have different holidays and songs to go with it. I was not raised with religion.)

    Teacher: “So who of you are Christians or Catholics?”

    Classmates: *some raise hands*

    Teacher: “And who of you are Jewish?”

    Classmates: *others raise hands*

    Teacher: “What about Muslims?”

    (One girl raises her hand.)

    Teacher: “Hmm? [My Name], you didn’t raise your hand for any religions.”

    Me: “Well my mommy and daddy taught me to believe in anything I want. I don’t know what I believe in.”

    Teacher: “You’re supposed to be the religion your parents are! Are your parents heathens?!”

    Me: “Huh? My daddy said he’s a… atheist? And I think my mommy said she’s pagan?”

    Teacher: *looking angry* “Your parents ARE heathens! They will be getting a call about this!”

    (My parents never got a call, and that teacher was fired for telling a child they were going to Hell for not believing in a god. To this day, I’m still an atheist!)

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