Join 3,558 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


"If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate." - Henry J. Tillman
June 4, 2011 7:06 AM   Subscribe

Kids who spot bullshit, and the adults who get upset about it.
posted by Fizz (144 comments total) 62 users marked this as a favorite

 
Before doing these tasks, children are required to take a swig of water and hold it in their mouths for a few seconds until the teacher tells them they can swallow. When I asked why, the teacher, who had been sent on a Brain Gym course by the school, informed me that the water was partially absorbed through the roof of the children’s mouths and was absorbed by the brain, improving learning.

Huh, I guess the reason I think so well in the shower is the water seeping in. Thanks science!
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:11 AM on June 4, 2011 [12 favorites]


That Brain Gym thing is pretty weird.
posted by delmoi at 7:14 AM on June 4, 2011


It would seem that the supporters of Brain Gym know nothing of human physiology.
posted by Evernix at 7:15 AM on June 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Go away, kid, you bother me.

/W.C. Fields


When truth meets sham, fireworks erupt. It has always been thus.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:18 AM on June 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yay kids who don't believe the hype. Hypothesis, experiment, analysis, conclusion. Way to go!
posted by rmd1023 at 7:20 AM on June 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


He backs up his article with a Whitney Houston song. That puts that argument to rest. Whitney Houston.
posted by CarlRossi at 7:22 AM on June 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I experienced this for the first time when I was 6 and going to first grader's Sunday school at church.

Our teacher was talking about how god created all of the wonderful, beautiful things in the world, so every time we saw a pretty flower or a soft bunny we should thank god. She went on to say that everything that god created was good.

This little speech of hers happened to come a few days after my little brother had tripped and fallen face-first into a fire ant bed (which was decidedly not good), so bugs were on my mind. I raised my hand and asked her "why, if everything god created was good, are there things like fire ants and cockroaches and termites?" She kind of stammered and said, "well, god thinks those things are good, too!" Other kids in the class started saying things like "eeeew, cockroaches are icky!!!" and "nuh-uh I got bit by a fire ant RIGHT HERE LOOK." I innocently asked her, "but why would god think that bad things are good?"

And she, quite flustered at this point, I will never ever forget it, said, "SUNDAY SCHOOL IS NOT FOR QUESTIONS!" and made me take my chair out to sit in the hall for the rest of class.


Nothing scares an adult more than being challenged by a child and having absolutely no reasonable comeback to it.
posted by phunniemee at 7:23 AM on June 4, 2011 [146 favorites]


Charlie Brooker on Brain Gym:
Brain Gym, y'see, is an "educational kinesiology" programme designed to improve kiddywink performance. It's essentially a series of simple exercises lumbered with names that make you want to steer a barbed wire bus into its creator's face. One manoeuvre, in which you massage the muscles round the jaw, is called the "energy yawn". Another involves activating your "brain buttons" by forming a "C" shape with one hand and pressing it either side of the collarbone while simultaneously touching your stomach with the other hand.

Throughout the report I was grinding my teeth and shaking my head - a movement I call a "dismay churn".
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 7:28 AM on June 4, 2011 [21 favorites]


every school taught the basics – randomised trials, blinding, cohort studies, and why systematic reviews are better than cherrypicking your evidence – it would help everyone navigate the world, and learn some of the most important ideas in the whole of science.
This 1,000 times. It is shameful that I didn't get exposed to this concept until my late teens.
posted by pointystick at 7:30 AM on June 4, 2011 [33 favorites]


I dislike this because it suggests we should be surprised that children have intelligence. Have you ever talked to a five year old? Cunning buggers.
posted by oxford blue at 7:33 AM on June 4, 2011 [20 favorites]


Nothing scares an adult more than being challenged by a child and having absolutely no reasonable comeback to it.

The only antidote to this is to not make pronouncements to children that you can't logically back up. If a kid asks you a question and you don't know the answer, say "I don't know."

It seems like common sense advice, but generally we don't follow it. I think it's because admitting our ignorance in front of kids is both embarrassing and reveals the shortcomings in our own understanding of the universe. Your Sunday school teacher got mad at you because you exposed the fact that she really hadn't given theodicy a whole lot of thought.
posted by Avenger at 7:34 AM on June 4, 2011 [12 favorites]


I've noticed that there is a certain subset of people who thrive on the premise of "I know something you don't know". They often put themselves into the position of being educators or teachers (in role, if not professionally) despite the fact that some part of their satisfaction seems to be based on the fundamental 'unknowability' of whatever it is they claim as expertise. Usually, the people around them just nod agreeably that this is their domain. Getting directly challenged is essentially an existential threat in this case, and the responses show it. It is unfortunate, because the true goal of education should be "everything I know is accessible to you, I hope one day you surpass me".
posted by meinvt at 7:34 AM on June 4, 2011 [21 favorites]


I remember well the test I took in Mrs. Baker's Social Studies class in the seventh grade. There were two points on the map and I was to indicate what direction the second point was from the first. The map on the paper was one of those weird-looking flattened out globes. Point A was on the North Pole. Point B was beneath it and to the left. I answered on my test that Point B was due south of Point A.

When I received my graded test back, I was surprised to learn that answer was marked as being incorrect. I went to her with that issue, and she informed me and explained to me that was down was south and left was west, so the point was southwest of the other. I explained to her that every point on the earth was due south of the North Pole. I walked across the room and came back with the classroom globe. I put my finger on the North Pole and then asked her to show me any point on the globe that was southwest of my finger. She said that it was different on a globe and that Point B was clearly to the left of Point A on the globe. She admitted that Point A was indeed the North Pole. There was no question about it.
My grade stayed the same.

I sat back down having reached the disturbing conclusion that I was smarter than my 7th grade Social Studies teacher.
posted by flarbuse at 7:34 AM on June 4, 2011 [141 favorites]


The more I looks into Brain Gym, the funnier and sadder it gets. Even the comically disengaged adults in this Brain Gym exercise video can tell it's bullshit.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 7:42 AM on June 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


meinvt, I have latent tendencies in that direction that I have to keep beaten down with a stick. And because I can see that tendency in myself, I can smell it a hundred yards away in others, and that has made some parent-teacher conferences very awkward.

The ones who don't go into education often go into IT. :-)
posted by randomkeystrike at 7:43 AM on June 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ignorant-teacher stories fill me with a very special kind of rage. Particularly when the teacher is shown to be wrong but won't admit it, like flarbuse's comment above. I hope kids that experience moments like this keep asking questions and challenging ideas like this, instead of simply growing disillusioned with education.
posted by pemberkins at 7:45 AM on June 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


My sister, as a toddler, wanted some cookies. My mother said she could have one. And one only.

So she took two: [one and one] only.

(She was allowed to eat the second.)
posted by jeather at 7:49 AM on June 4, 2011 [44 favorites]


Every time I read about things like Brain Gym, energy crystals, indigo children and so on, I want to quit my job and start selling magnetic arthritis bracelets or Japanese footbaths. 3000% markup and the the market for abject stupidity is apparently insatiable.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:53 AM on June 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


I don't care what the eggheads day- Brain Gym did wonders for my niece, McKinzye, and no study can change the FACT that she is now a STRAIGHT B STUDENT!!! Go Brain Gym and McKinzye!
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:05 AM on June 4, 2011 [11 favorites]


the market for abject stupidity is apparently insatiable

Yea, but the real money is in organized religion.
posted by Long Way To Go at 8:07 AM on June 4, 2011 [11 favorites]


Mrs. Schuitt, 7th grade math teacher, you told me a cube has not six sides, but four, plus a top and bottom. Well, I'm sorry I made fun of you in front of the class for that. I now understand how hard it must have been for you to just get through your workday, being so unprepared for math questions from little kids.
posted by pajamazon at 8:09 AM on June 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


I just find it refreshing to see an article that's about this sort of nonsense happening somewhere other than the United States, as it helps keep the emphasis on the importance of good, evidence-based education, rather than devolving to lolDumbAmericans.
posted by The World Famous at 8:10 AM on June 4, 2011


I think the buried idea, that little kids need physical activity and stimulation is valid, but all the shit that idea is buried in is pretty toxic.
posted by edgeways at 8:16 AM on June 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


So much of it comes down to honesty. If we were honest with kids about the fact that sometimes adults lack answers, then none of this would be necessary. My parents would fully admit that they lacked the answers. WHAT THEY WOULD DO: give me a book or a trip to the library or access towards finding that solution/answer.
posted by Fizz at 8:19 AM on June 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Proud of these kids; exasperated that the administration, at least, couldn't see its way clear to getting rid of "Brain Gym."

I have a small, tiny grain of sympathy for adults confronted by smart kids with good questions that incidentally disrupt the whole days' lesson plan and make the teacher look the chump. Teachers are so besieged in general and in a large class, may feel they barely have control as it is. Letting a kid upset the applecart may seem like more than they can deal with, and they lash out.

BUT, getting an education degree should mean being prepared for these kinds of moments, and so it's only a tiny grain. And making kids feel bad about using their brains and shutting them up is never ok.
posted by emjaybee at 8:19 AM on June 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


In elementary school, there was a question on a test that showed a diagram of the solar system and asked us to label all the planets. The diagram showed all the planets, but also had Earth's moon on it. I deliberately did not label the moon, thinking that it was a trick. I got marks deducted. When I complained, the teacher admitted that I was right, and that the moon was not a planet, but that it wouldn't be fair to give me full marks because I hadn't labeled as many items as the other students.
posted by cider at 8:42 AM on June 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


Mrs. Schuitt, 7th grade math teacher, you told me a cube has not six sides, but four, plus a top and bottom. Well, I'm sorry I made fun of you in front of the class for that. I now understand how hard it must have been for you to just get through your workday, being so unprepared for math questions from little kids.

She's technically correct (the best kind of correct). A side is different from a top or bottom. A cube has 6 faces, but if the cube is in such an orientation that discernible "top" and "bottom" labels can be assigned to 2 of the faces, then there are only 4 "sides" remaining.

Don't get me started on the semantic differences between "corners" vis-a-vis "edges" and "vertices." Suffice to say that no one puts Baby in a vertex.
posted by explosion at 8:50 AM on June 4, 2011 [39 favorites]


I see nothing wrong with exploiting the stupid. Science has clearly shown that negative energy elicits positive results. I exploit the stupid, and over time they become intellectually stronger for it. It's the same reason the giraffe has a long neck. If you don't understand this you're probably being exploited.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:55 AM on June 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


These stories reminds me of my AP government class in high school. After tests were handed back to students, the teacher would go through each one asking if there were any objections. If we presented sound arguments why B should be correct along with the "real" answer of A, we'd get credit if answered B instead of A. I never really thought about that class in the context of Teachers Always Being Right, but looking back I can see the teacher allowing us to question his authority being a Very Good Thing. Now, I work in a school and it's no wonder why students' favorite teachers tend to be those that allow thoughtful discussion and don't tell student WRONG!!! if they disagree.
posted by jmd82 at 8:56 AM on June 4, 2011 [14 favorites]


I think it's because admitting our ignorance in front of kids is both embarrassing and reveals the shortcomings in our own understanding of the universe.

I think it's a fear of losing face and respect and therefore control of the class. I don't really blame teachers for that, particularly primary school ones who spend all day with their students, every day. They're usually outrageously outnumbered, and if their students stop listening to them, all the days left in the school year will be miserable for them (the teachers) and unproductive for the students.

We really need to deal with the fact that teachers are neither the automatic dispensers of real true knowledge that some pretend to be nor the automatic dispensers of unflappably kind and reasonable conversation that many would like them to be. They're really just people who have to establish and maintain human relationships with the people in front of them. And it's hard. It would obviously be better if more teachers could build up a lower-stakes environment of inquiry for their students, where curiosity was always encouraged and it was OK to make mistakes - but circumstances often make that impossible, what with class sizes, depressing classrooms, depressing home-lives, the need to prepare for standardized tests, the obligation to attend to the needs of children at vastly different levels of intellectual, social and emotional development, children who quite naturally wish to pursue goals apart from educating themselves all day, and of course, inadequate training of teachers for such a task. In my country, at least, noise is also a huge problem, as primary school classrooms are often divided by blackboards instead of walls, and there is a constant thought-suppressing roar of other children talking and shouting and living. It's insane, and it makes people insane.

I was always the child putting up my hand to argue with the teacher when he started talking nonsense, and the bitter feeling of having my sensible, correct thoughts dismissed just because I was small is one I won't forget. But the more time I spend in schools, the less inclined I find myself to hold a grudge about it. It's hopeless to ask teachers to do the work they do under the circumstances we ask them to do it. "School" is just broken as an idea, and the way it's implemented is even worse. In every system I'm familiar with, there is so much that needs to be changed it's hard to know where to begin. But I would be overjoyed if teachers could simply have the time and space to engage thoughtfully with a manageable number of children. If societies would hold up their end of the bargain, and encourage (and pay for) environments where this was generally possible and likely, I would feel OK about condemning the genuine Because I Said So types that were left over.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 8:58 AM on June 4, 2011 [27 favorites]


In middle school, I had a teacher tell the class that "immigration" and "emigration" were just two words for the same thing. Although I knew better, I kept my mouth shut.
posted by Gilbert at 9:05 AM on June 4, 2011


My son got in trouble in grade school because, when asked what direction the earth rotated in, he answered "It depends on your point of view." He wasn't even being a smart ass, he just really understood the question.

My daughter got in trouble for messing about with a pencil. She was told "Stop that, you could get lead poisoning." She got in more trouble when she replied that she didn't think so, as pencils are made of graphite and not lead.

One more: Ellie Lammer, 7th grader in Berkeley, called BS on parking meters. She timed them and discovered they were a mess. nationsreportcard.gov/reading_2007/r0040.asp
posted by cccorlew at 9:10 AM on June 4, 2011 [11 favorites]


Please. My poor mother spent more time in school dealing with teachers' complaints about me correcting them in class than anything else. I think she finally must've lost it, because as the family story goes, she asked my third-grade teacher, after having been asked to MAKE me stop:

Mom: "Well, was she correct?"
Teacher: "That's not the point!"
Mom: "Aren't you even the slightest bit ashamed that an eight-year-old can spell better than you?"
Teacher: [sputter]

She had to do this more than once. Finally, my parents just sat me down and told me not to correct adults who were teaching us incorrect facts in school because teachers just couldn't handle being wrong and it would be easier on me if I just ignored them and carried on using the correct [fact] in my own work.

I also got thrown out of vacation Bible school (my great-grandma's idea) for similar questions...
posted by bitter-girl.com at 9:11 AM on June 4, 2011 [25 favorites]


Ah, memories.

I remember one day juggling foam balls in the hall between classes, the super squishy kind you use for stage magic.

Teacher came out and told me to stop because "someone could get hurt".
posted by chronkite at 9:29 AM on June 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


It is amusing that his attempt to prove the hypothesis "Children have a natural interest in science and can readily detect quackery" is a mere succession of anecdotes carefully selected for emotional impact.
posted by Diablevert at 9:30 AM on June 4, 2011 [19 favorites]


The thesis is not "this happens everywhere" - it's "this happens."
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:43 AM on June 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


It is amusing that his attempt to prove the hypothesis "Children have a natural interest in science and can readily detect quackery"

I was going to comment on that but reading his article he never actually said that, at least not that I could find while skimming.
posted by delmoi at 9:46 AM on June 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


As a former teacher, I'm always surprised at the emotional power teachers still have over grown adults, whether it be in memory or popular culture.

The reality of teaching (from a teacher's perspective) is more complex. While the odds are obviously in favour of the teacher in a classroom setting, "control" or authority is no sure thing. Students have a lot of latent power in the classroom, and all teachers have to learn how to manage it.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:48 AM on June 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


Nothing scares an adult more than being challenged by a child and having absolutely no reasonable comeback to it.

and

I sat back down having reached the disturbing conclusion that I was smarter than my 7th grade Social Studies teacher.


I have a bright fifteen-year-old at home who has learned to pick her battles. At whatever point she was taught about time zones, the teacher explained that there were twenty-four time zones. When this was relayed to me, I said, "No, there are a lot of places out of sync with the one-hour steps -- take Newfoundland. I think there are about forty in all."

The teenager replied, "Yes, I know that and you know that, but the teacher would have gotten upset to hear that, so I let it pass."
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:50 AM on June 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


I sat back down having reached the disturbing conclusion that I was smarter than my 7th grade Social Studies teacher.

And thus your real education began. For me, it was less acute but it happened roundabout the same age when I discovered Monty Python, which clearly was not just the funniest thing since GOD, but also utterly true in that inexplicable (for a 12-year-old anyway) manner that good satire is always true. And yet any number of adults around me just didn't get it. It offended them, it confused them, it exposed them. They were, effectively, the idiots being laughed at ... and they deserved it.

I remember my mom eventually pointing out to me. "Get used to it. You're going to be dealing with people like this for the rest of your life."
posted by philip-random at 9:51 AM on June 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think this is part of the reason that smart people tend to be anti-authoritarian. Authorities are usually dumber then you are, and thus the fact they have power over you is disturbing.
posted by delmoi at 9:54 AM on June 4, 2011 [49 favorites]


My wife has a child in her class whose parents are very religious... the child is mildly autistic, and after hearing all the stories about god kicking people's asses for minor things he decided that god is the ultimate measure of evil. So when another student calls him mean, bad, etc., he says, "But I'm not as mean as GOD, right?"

I'm thinking those parents have a tough road ahead.
posted by Huck500 at 9:57 AM on June 4, 2011 [14 favorites]


Your Sunday school teacher got mad at you because you exposed the fact that she really hadn't given theodicy a whole lot of thought. there's no way to logically assert any of that crap.

FTFY.
posted by Aquaman at 9:59 AM on June 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I had something like this happen in a grade school "computers" class. Our assignment was to write a program that would compute and print out all the prime numbers between 2 and 1000. And whoever wrote the fastest program to do that would win some nominal prize.

This was actually something I had already done years earlier when I got my first computer, so I had a whole bag of tricks already in my head for doing this. The other students programs all took the obvious approach of testing every number by trying to divide it by every smaller number to see if it divides evenly, and if it doesn't, print it out.

That works and starts out quickly, but gets slower and slower. My program started out quite slow and got progressively faster, and after just a few seconds, would print numbers faster than you could read them.

I got in trouble because the teacher concluded I "must have cheated somehow". And when I explained I'd just used the Sieve of Eratosthenes algorithm, which is fast partly because it only uses addition (a fast operation on computers) and no division (which is really slow), he said "it is impossible to calculate prime numbers without doing division!"

At which point I was saved by the math teacher across the hall, who had heard the whole exchange. He stormed in, said "(teacher's name), you're a fucking idiot!" and proceeded to explain the algorithm to the entire class, drawing it on the chalkboard as he went. And he concluded with "Why do they let you teach this class anyway?" and stormed back out.

I forget who actually ended up getting the prize.
posted by FishBike at 10:03 AM on June 4, 2011 [124 favorites]


The odd thing is that it took a 9 year old running a study to make Therapeutic Touch look ridiculous. It's like all the money invested into studies of homeopathy in the name of appeasing the alternative medicine constituency. Really, overall mainstream medical science in particular has been nearly as subservient to the alt-med constituency (for political and economic reasons as well) as it has been Big Pharma, and the two are I think inversely related in the same loss of public trust in medicine.

If the hypothesis does not posit a mechanism, the standard for rejecting the hypothesis must be lower than if there is a putative mechanism, or could be (maybe more to the point, but we don't always know what could be). A lot of vaccine work, for example, involves frustrating repetitions of slightly modified protocols that incrementally explore a particular vector of possible interest, for example dosage dependence. But detecting an "energy field" from the body or claiming a hyper-dilute aqueous solution has a "memory effect" or chalking up every disease to a single cause ("subluxation" of the spine, parasites, etc.) is obviously so unlikely as to not need more than cursory refutation based on other similar phenomena that have otherwise long been disproved anyway.

Maybe the NIH, NIMH, and NSF should (lavishly, they'd still save millions in wasted research money that now flows to large scale trials of silly things in the name of improving public health by debunking them, often) fund all alternative medicine research that doesn't meet the initial threshold of rational possibility at the elementary school science fair students as a way to improve science education nationally. Imagine if a science teacher could get a $200 grant per student for each science fair project she supervised? Still cost less that is now spent on this sort of research at the university level.
posted by fourcheesemac at 10:03 AM on June 4, 2011 [10 favorites]


After reading all the comments above, I have to say that I love it when my students correct me... it means they're paying attention. Every time there's a typo or error in a book we're reading I tell them there's an error and have them try to find it. I learned early to check facts before just throwing them out there.

Also, I've never heard of a teacher at my school being upset at being corrected, much less calling in a parent about it. I really don't see how the teacher could possibly benefit from that call...
posted by Huck500 at 10:07 AM on June 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


FishBike: He stormed in, said "(teacher's name), you're a fucking idiot!"

Where the heck did you go to school? Or was he fired promptly?

Now the other way around I could believe. Since we're doing the funny stories, I once had a teacher (a big, fat, fairly dumb, somewhat bullying gym teacher who doubled as our health teacher in 8th grade) get pissed at me for being a smartass in class, and yell at me "YOU LITTLE SHIT."

I cooly replied, I swear to god: "At least I'm not a constipated old shit who's too big to get out of this ass of a school."

Never again in my life have I ever had just the right words ready in the moment to such devastating effect. I spent like two weeks in detention, but the reputational value was totally worth it.

Mr. Del Russo, wherever you are, I'm sorry they laughed so hard at you. I was outta line.
posted by fourcheesemac at 10:09 AM on June 4, 2011 [15 favorites]


I got a B+ on an essay once in Ms. Schohoski's writing class in high school because I used the word idly, which, she explained, "is not a word, no matter how much you want it to be so you can get your A." Ugh, she was always so condescending with the slow head shake and the shitty, shitty, fake smile.* I waited until after class to try to talk to her about it, but even in private the bitch would not relent. Oh, man, I was so bitter.

I took a dictionary to her class the next day to prove to her that it was a word, but she put her hand up and told me to stop being so argumentative and learn live with my B+. She said that getting a B was "good for [me]." (It was so not good for me!) She flatly refused to look at the entry in the dictionary that I repeatedly tried to show her. I was incredulous.

An adverb-hating English teacher! Without a dictionary in the classroom! It should have been her bible, but I guess she'd already read it, so... totally unnecessary to lug that big, heavy, useless book around with her, I guess. Yep, still bitter.

* We used to call her Ms. Spitosky because she always let the foam fly when she spoke. She was so gross on so many different levels.

posted by heyho at 10:09 AM on June 4, 2011 [18 favorites]


Oh, I forgot to narrate the event that precipitated Mr. Gym Teacher in Health Class calling me a "little shit" in the first place.

I came in late to class that day, as usual, reeking of pot, I'm sure. I had missed the start of a quiz. To make and example out of me, I suppose, Mr. Del R told me I was going to fail the quiz because I'd missed the start, *unless* I could go up to the board and, for some reason I never could fathom, spell the word "sphygmomanometer" (somehow he could even pronounce it, itself a remarkable feat for a man of his intellect). He thought he had me.

My mom was in nursing school at the time, and had actually been practicing taking blood pressure on us kids at home the year before. Somehow I had noticed the box her cuff was stored in, and taken in the word and its spelling (hey, I was a geek like that) and so I marched up to the blackboard and spelled it perfectly and marched back to my seat and sat down. It took him a moment to process, checking the spelling against whatever he had read it from in coming up with the little test for me.

That was when he called me a little shit.

You remember your best days.
posted by fourcheesemac at 10:19 AM on June 4, 2011 [20 favorites]


"I was going to comment on that but reading his article he never actually said that, at least not that I could find while skimming."

Is there a single line in the article which says that explicitly? No. One may certainly find my gloss on the piece biased. As evidence for my rendering of his thesis statement, I would point out his title "Kids who spot bullshit, and the adults who get upset about it" the fact that 7 of the post's 12 paragraphs consists of detailed anecdotes about children challenging quackery, and his conclusion, which his anecdotes are meant to provide the evidence to support:

"People wring their hands over how to make science relevant and accessible, but...[we have the answer,] evidence based medicine." All schools should teach this, but in the meantime, "we can feel optimistic [because]... A child can know more about evidence than their peers, and more than adults, and more than their own teachers".


As rhetoric it's decent, as science it's shit, which I'm sure the author is aware. I just find it funny. A few dozen people have already chimed in above with their own personal experiences of the idiocy of authority figures and the capacity of young smartasses to engage in rational thought; I cannot help but wonder if, when young Mr. Morgan first posted his critique of the mineral solution on the Chron's forum he was met with a barrage of personal anecdotes as people chimed in to say that they themselves knew of someone it had worked for....
posted by Diablevert at 10:20 AM on June 4, 2011


Heyho, don't feel bad. I once got a C on a book report because the teacher insisted I must have copied it, because the vocabulary was too high-level for my grade. I was so schooled to Not Question Authority that, for a few minutes, I believed her instead of my own memory of having read the book and then written the report using words that were my own.

But I was already making straight As in that class and decided not to bother. From then on, my reports for that teacher used no fancy words, and it was back to straight As for me. I'm sure she felt good about having nipped my cheating in the bud.

This may have something to do with my disinterest in chasing the 4.0 in high school.
posted by emjaybee at 10:20 AM on June 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Where the heck did you go to school? Or was he fired promptly?

In Toronto, about 25 years ago, and it was a school program for "gifted" children (which is a whole different can of worms). I'm sure things are different now. Back then I expect if the head of the math department at that school calls you a fucking idiot, and you complain about it, the first question would have been "Well? Are you?"
posted by FishBike at 10:24 AM on June 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


In 7th grade, my science teacher caught me poking the boy next to me with a pencil.
"You're going to give him lead poisoning!" she scolded.
I assumed a righteous posture. "Actually, pencils don't have lead in them," I said. "They're made of GRANITE."
posted by changeling at 10:26 AM on June 4, 2011 [20 favorites]


Since this is for some reason evidently the "callout the dumb teacher" thread, Mrs. Brozovich, wherever the hell you are, I was NOT a "phony" because I carried around an armful of books with me in seventh grade that were not the approved school district texts. And you were -- no other word for it -- evil for calling me to the front of the classroom and calling me a phony in front of all the other students. And yes, I WAS reading those books, and I carried them because my parents couldn't afford a backpack, thank you very much.

As a former teacher, I'm always surprised at the emotional power teachers still have over grown adults, whether it be in memory or popular culture.

In a time when grown adults think it's acceptable to use teachers as political scapegoats for everything from their kids' poor behavior in the classroom to the shitty state of the economy, the main emotional power that teachers seem to have is as figures of resentment and demonization.
posted by blucevalo at 10:29 AM on June 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


If a kid asks you a question and you don't know the answer, say "I don't know."

I'd expand on that a little, and say that one of the very best answers to a child's question is, "I don't know. Let's go find out."
posted by Malor at 10:30 AM on June 4, 2011 [59 favorites]


That was when he called me a little shit.

Speaking of remembering your best days ... my favorite bad-marking scenario was a short story in Grade 11 that got me a C+. I then entered it in a province wide competition and got second place, winning $500 (roughly $2000 in today's dollars). I'm sure I spent a sizable chunk of it on marijuana and prog-rock albums.
posted by philip-random at 10:32 AM on June 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Oh come now bluecevalo, that's not what this is, and that's not MeFi. I'm sure every one of us could also cite the inspirational, devoted, creative, nurturing, and ambition-pushing teachers along our paths, and do in other contexts. Obviously it was teachers who helped make these kids skeptical and able to approach their skepticism rationally.

But you have to admit that everyone has bad memories of some teachers and the stories are funny.
posted by fourcheesemac at 10:32 AM on June 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


"A child can know more about evidence than their peers, and more than adults, and more than their own teachers" - that's "a child can", not "every child does."

Not every story is about How The World Really Works. Some of them are just stories.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:36 AM on June 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


If every school taught the basics – randomised trials, blinding, cohort studies, and why systematic reviews are better than cherrypicking your evidence...

I'm familiar with other terms, but what is a cohort study, and why is it important?
posted by jcreigh at 10:45 AM on June 4, 2011


Cohort studies tend to be used in medical research to determine risk factors for various diseases. You'll also hear people say "longitudinal study," since it follows several groups of people over time.
posted by phenylphenol at 10:57 AM on June 4, 2011


Oh man, I remember being in 2nd Grade and getting in SO much trouble for correcting a teacher. Mrs. Crochet was writing our Christmas-themed list of spelling words on the chalkboard, and wrote "Poinsetta". I raised my hand and told her that she was missing an 'i'. She told us that she was obviously not missing the 'i', it was right there after the 'o'. I stood up and told her the correct spelling of the word. She sent me to the principal's office and called my mother in for a conference.

When we got home, my mother told me that I was correct and she was proud of me for not being afraid to speak up, but to never, ever, do that again. Her point was that it's not always beneficial to correct other people as long as you know what is right. That has stuck with me.
posted by tryniti at 11:05 AM on June 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


This reminds me of being a teenager and going on the budding internet and coming in to school with a printout to show the assistant principal in whose office I worked.

The banners, just the banners, for the Character Counts! thing that we had to do, that we were getting drilled on randomly in hallways to see if we could name all the pillars that now I can't remember at all, were like $500. They were available on the website, along with branded notepads, pens, training videos, etc. Glancing at it today, I see you can still go on a three-day training seminar for $700. They'd sent a letter around to the school claiming that something like 99.97% of high school students "habitually" lied to their parents and teachers, although nothing quantified what "habitually" meant. Therefore we needed that program to prevent our turning into hardened criminals.

I wanted to know how many biology textbooks you could buy with what that program cost our school.

I didn't really get an answer.
posted by gracedissolved at 11:16 AM on June 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


When I was in 1st Grade, I was in the 4th Grade reading class. That's a formula for social ostracism, let me tellya. I remember correcting Mr. Warne's (infrequent) chalkboard spelling errors even then. He fixed them without hesitation, any time anyone corrected him.

Problem is, his being cool about it led me to thinking it was okay to do that with everyone. A lot of substitute teachers hated me.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 11:17 AM on June 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, I've never heard of a teacher at my school being upset at being corrected, much less calling in a parent about it. I really don't see how the teacher could possibly benefit from that call...

And not only did it happen, but way more than once...apparently the teacher was so stupid she didn't even realize she was exposing her own ignorance by making the call.

Mrs. Brozovich, wherever the hell you are, I was NOT a "phony" because I carried around an armful of books with me in seventh grade that were not the approved school district texts.

That's ok, bluecevalo. My 10th grade French teacher sent me to the principal's office because she ordered me to close the book I was (quietly) reading before the "class is starting" bell. "But the bell hasn't rung yet!" says I, nicely. Spittle-faced, she ordered me to the principal's office, where I had to explain that I had just been thrown out of class for reading a book. The principal, who was awesome, told me said teacher was an idiot and how about I just hang out in his office for the remainder of the hour? Loved him.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 11:17 AM on June 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


My third grade teacher was convinced that the abbreviated form of for example is e.x. -- I pointed out that it was e.g., and she was incredulous. Of course, this was in the context of a crossword puzzle she had given me to finish, and since the only way to complete the puzzle was to include the g, she proudly declared that the puzzle as a whole was flawed and moved on.
posted by joe lisboa at 11:17 AM on June 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was one of those kids who had preternatural abilities at spelling from a young age and I made a habit of helping out my first-grade teacher when she misspelled something on the board. I genuinely thought I was doing her a service.

One day as the other kids were working on something or other, she pulled me aside and sat me down and said, "Did you ever notice that when you interrupt me to correct my spelling, it takes me a few minutes after that to get the class back on track?" I nodded. Then she asked, "Do you think most of the kids in this class are going to remember how I spelled words on the board, afterwards? Do you think it's going to mess up their spelling skills?" I thought about it and shook my head. I'd seen their spelling tests being handed back; I knew spelling was not something these kids were drinking in from the air around them as I seemingly was. Then she said, "So, are you actually helping anyone when you correct me?"

I responded, "Well, I thought I was helping YOU, so you'd know how to spell words."

She said, "Let's just assume that if I'm not in front of the class, and I'm not sure how to spell something, I go and look it up in the dictionary. But if I AM in front of the class, and I guess wrong, it doesn't make me a better speller if you correct me in front of the whole class. It makes me embarrassed, and it disrupts the lesson for everyone else."

This had never occurred to me, but it made sense; I was profoundly shy and I understood embarrassment viscerally. I never corrected her again, and I really thought twice about what my motivations were before I corrected other teachers later in life. I don't remember much about first grade, but I'll never forget that conversation. It was probably the first time I learned that my intelligence and helpful nature was anything but an utter delight to those around me. I'm glad that my teacher handled it with such sensitivity, because she was entirely correct that stopping a first-grade lesson about science to point out that she'd left the 'i' out of "evaporation" was not an effective use of anyone's time.

What she taught me was that if incorrect facts weren't actually germane to the matter at hand, correcting them was often not constructive, a life lesson I still use all the time, and one I can tell many of my colleagues never learned. I guess I was really, really lucky to have my first-grade teacher, instead of the teachers some of you had. Also, I had her as my teacher for two years, and I'm sure this incident happened in the second of the two, which means she bore with me for at least a year. What a woman.
posted by troublesome at 11:27 AM on June 4, 2011 [142 favorites]


There's a fundamental lesson about human nature here: People tend not to believe anything if it makes them feel bad about themselves, regardless of facts or logic. Conversely, most people will believe ANYTHING, no matter how ridiculous, if it makes them feel good about themselves -- c.f., religion, race-supremacy groups, etc.
posted by LordSludge at 11:40 AM on June 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Oh well, if we need to balance out the bad teacher stories, then let me salute Mrs. Adams, who exempted me from spelling tests for a year when it became clear that I was already reading way above the testing level. She tried to get me into an embryonic gifted program too, but in those dark days, such things were not well-funded, so me and the other two kids who were in it mostly blew off the worksheets and farted around for an hour a week sans supervision or as it turned out, consequences. Didn't hurt us any, though.

She also recommended books for me to read, and befriended the lonely geek girl I was. I found her on Facebook not long ago, and she's as nice as ever.

Also props to Mrs. Smith in HS English who made Shakespeare interesting and agreed with me that Midsummer Night's Dream would've been easier and more fun than Macbeth for an intro. And Mrs. Black in middle-school English who shared my love of historical novels and was utterly besotted with Thomas Jefferson in a fangirl way.
posted by emjaybee at 11:42 AM on June 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


I experienced this for the first time when I was 6 and going to first grader's Sunday school at church.

Ditto, sort of. I was enrolled in a private school associated with the local Church of the Nazarene -- we'd moved to the area about a year before I was to start kindergarten and a new friend of my grandmother's attended the church and swore up and down it was the very best school in the area. Weekly church attendance was mandatory for students and their families, as well as Sunday School. Because I was in pre-kindergarten I was in the Sunday School class where we learned cute stories about Jesus being nice to people and drew pictures of what we would do if Jesus came to spend Easter with us (I apparently thought he would be a sentient crown with feet who would play catch with me -- look out for that king of kings imagery!).

When I tested out of kindergarten and got bumped up to first grade, all hell started to break loose. First I got in trouble for reading Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret during quiet play time -- my grandmother had to come down and assure the school administration that she had purchased the book for me and that I had not stolen it from an older child, and I had to demonstrate that I could actually read by reading aloud from the book in front of the principal.

Then I got in trouble for asking questions about Judaism. Big ups to Judy Blume for writing about religion, you gave me lots of ammo for those Wednesday morning chapel classes. (And huge ups to Mrs. Stueckel for letting me wish my classmates a Good Yom Tov or happy Rosh Hashanah when it came up on the calendar, and always always answering my questions with kindness and honesty. That school sucked, but Mrs. Stueckel did not.)

I was a curious kid who'd never been exposed to any of the religious ideas I was encountering in school, so I asked TONS of questions about what I was being told to believe. That really, really did not go over well with the man who led our chapel classes, but I think the final straw was when I read all the dinosaur books that were in my classroom library and then starting asking questions in chapel about why there are no dinosaurs in the Bible, and how did they exist millions of years ago if God only created the earth a few thousand years ago, and on and on and on.

My family was told I would not be welcome to attend their school the following year.
posted by palomar at 11:50 AM on June 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


Avenger: If a kid asks you a question and you don't know the answer, say "I don't know."

A thousand times yes. I teach and its amazing how much respect you can get from your kids just by admitting ignorance. Seriously.

Better answer, though: "I don't know, but let's find out."
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:06 PM on June 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


In fourth grade, my class did a unit on advertising. We studied different types of commercials, the techniques advertisers used to sucker us in, how certain things were faked like Crisco for ice cream in photographs, etc. It was fascinating, because it was different from the usual stuff we learned in school, and it was something we could use in real life.

I wasn't a complete hype-believer before that unit, but learning all that probably helped me more than long division. Skepticism is a good thing for kids to learn, especially when someone's trying to sell you something.
posted by Metroid Baby at 12:07 PM on June 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


When I was in grade six or seven (I had the same teacher for both years, so they kind of blend together) I read Childhood's End, which includes a passage wherein a character experiences time dilation while hitching a ride on an alien spaceship traveling at close to the speed of light. I went to the library and signed out a kid's book about Einstein, but when I asked my teacher about relativity he assured me it was just science fiction.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:21 PM on June 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


True story from my ninth-grade health class: we had a chiropractor present on the importance of spinal medicine and chiropractic care. This is not the good part.

Here is the good part: as an example of the consequences of ignorance of chiropractic theory will do, he cited the obstetrician--by name--who delivered his late-toddler/early-preschool-age son. The obstetrician had just caught the baby and was holding the child while supporting the kid's neck. Because this otherwise excellent and highly respectable OB/GYN held his child in such a manner, the boy developed serious chiropractic problems by six months old, and his father had been performing spinal (including the neck) manipulations on his kid since then.

* * *
Dinner that night

Me: Hey, Dad! Guess what? A local chiropractor came in to tell us about the importance of good chiropractic care, and taught the class that you, personally, ruined his child's spinal health right after he was born! By supporting the child's neck without regard to chiropractic health consequences! And he's been fixing the damage you did by applying chiropractic manipulation treatments since the kid was six months old!

Dad: .....WHAT?

Me: (recites back chiropractor's speech much more exactly than represented here, having taken careful notes)

Dad: (displeased)

Me: At this point, I bet you're not that interested in his thoughts on curing allergies and the necessity of vaccines. He did have some thoughts on those, as well.

I'd thought about calling the chiropractor out right there, but I remember deliberately deciding to let him dig that hole as deeply as possible, and to take careful note of what he said, as exactly as I could. That is how I learned about the quiet power of writing things down.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 12:38 PM on June 4, 2011 [15 favorites]


Perfect School

Little Jimmy: "That's wrong, teacher!"
Teacher: "Why Jimmy! What makes you think that?"
Little Jimmy: [corrects teacher succinctly in impeccable Spock-mode logic]
Teacher: (after long pause) "You know, Jimmy - teachers have brain farts too."
posted by Twang at 12:48 PM on June 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


I teach sixth graders, and "I have no idea" is a favorite statement of mine. Even though I know a hell of a lot because I was a smartass kid like y'all, skipped a grade, read everything and anything, and questioned authority on a daily basis. Yes, I got in trouble. But I had an awful lot of good teachers, most of whom I was smarter than, but it didn't matter because that wasn't what school was about, not really. A lot of what you learn about the world, you learn on your own or with your family. School is good for some common skills and for keeping kids out of traffic, and for avoiding the embarrassing idiosyncrasies of the autodidactic crank.

I am a spectacularly good speller, but I still make errors, because when you're writing on a whiteboard behind your back while facing the class, answering questions, and keeping Henry from throwing Jack's pencil behind the bookshelf, you tend to forget the occasional syllable or entire word. The kids always point it out to me helpfully. And when you're juggling as many things as teachers do, it's sometimes tempting to say in response to such help, "Right. But right now I really don't care." They tell me when my hair is funky, too. They're really helpful that way.

When a kid who produces barely literate English in class comes in with a perfectly spelled mature piece of writing that has sentences with complicated structures, my first guess is (a) parental help (b) tutor (c) painful thesaurus paraphrasing (d) downright plagiarism, but my first question is always, "What's going on with this?" not "Did you copy this?" Open ended questions are SO much better for finding things out. Assume nothing, and let the kids do all the explaining, that's my motto.

Most of the time if a kid has a book that looks too hard for him, I say let 'im read it. What's the worst that could happen to him?
posted by Peach at 12:49 PM on June 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


Troublesome made a good point - I was too much of an idiot as a kid to realise that, but as an adult it's pretty obvious.

Related, you kids who corrected the teacher but still didn't get your extra mark for 100%: You didn't need that mark, you are not the kids that test was for. You learned a more difficult lesson from the experience, perhaps.
posted by dickasso at 12:56 PM on June 4, 2011


I'm no expert -- but I'm going to guess that therapeutic touch works because a caring person is paying attention to someone in pain. But that's not reimbursable (it should be). In order to be reimbursable, you have to have a testable theory that meets some level of scientific operationalization/manualization and demonstrates replicability.

I don't agree with the language of energy fields--but when I'm in pain, I really don't care if the practitioner believes that she's moving energy fields around.

Having seen demonstrations, I actually think the attention being paid to the patient makes the patient self-conscious, which increasing circulation, changes breathing, etc.

I always tell people -- just because something is measurable doesn't make it real---and just because something isn't measurable doesn't make it not real.

Also--when it comes to teachers, you should always assume that the priorities of classroom management and mandates for teaching to the test will trump free learning and demonstrations of intelligence.

Finally, foam balls may not be dangerous---but watching them as you juggle them, rather than paying attention to what else is happening in a hallway, especially if you're walking at the same time, could be. But even if it wasn't, it was shorthand for: you're being disruptive and interrupting the priorities in the paragraph above. It's not necessarily that the teacher believed it was dangerous and therefore isn't smart--it's that calling upon the legitimated arguments of authority are effective and mute dissent.

And that's what bothers me about our education system --the relationships it creates between teachers and students. There's your threat to intelligence. It happens to smart adults all the time too.
posted by vitabellosi at 1:04 PM on June 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but nobody likes a know-it-all kid. Kids may have the capacity to be clever, precocious, and intelligent beyond their years, but they lack experience. This is why clever kids tend to be blunt,tactless, and annoying as all hell. They have yet to experience all the many ways that life has of fucking you, no matter how "right" you may be.

As a former precocious kid who always seemed to have more facts in my head than the adults around me, one of the most important lessons my mother taught me was this. "Life is not fair, and being smart is just one of the many tools you're going to need to get through this world intact."
posted by billyfleetwood at 1:06 PM on June 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


As far as spelling errors go, my high school history teacher always handled them brilliantly and should be the model to which all other teachers aspire. He always wrote extensive notes on the board during his lecture. Whenever a student would find a spelling error and say, "hey, you left out the g in enlightenment," he would always say, "good catch, [name]!" fix the error, and immediately return to lecture.

It was made to be totally not a big deal at all, which spelling errors shouldn't be, students were made to feel good and not scared out of speaking up, and everything just proceeded as normal.
posted by phunniemee at 1:07 PM on June 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


Why does Brain Gym sound so much like Scientology to me regarding it's pseudo-scientific promises of benefits?
posted by Poet_Lariat at 1:10 PM on June 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm no expert -- but I'm going to guess that therapeutic touch works because a caring person is paying attention to someone in pain.

This can be implemented in any form of legitimate care for patients in pain, at no major cost and without implying benefits that can't possibly exist at the same time. I am always taken aback when alternative medicine advocates (not saying you are one) argue for the benefits of the placebo effect as if this were a distinctive benefit of their methods. It's like the "bargaining" stage, following the anger and denial stages.
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:25 PM on June 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm going to guess that therapeutic touch works

Whoops, I bought into the premise of your statement. Is there any significant non-anecdotal evidence that "it" "works" at all? I'm not aware of any.

Because generally, you need to discount the placebo effect in a clinical style, precisely because it's a baseline effect of any therapeutic intervention.

Saying it "ought to be reimbursable" is illogical to me. Why should it take a nurse practitioner billing at 100 bucks an hour (or whatever) to deliver "a caring person paying attention to your pain" as a separate therapy from, say, ordinary psychotherapy (reimbursable), or for that matter a massage, a visit from the patient's family or spiritual adviser, or pet therapy? This is just why evidence based standards for insurance coverage of procedures is so important to controlling health care costs and helping consumers of health care evaluate their options honestly.

I mean, you're probably not going to feel worse if a nice person touches you gently, but paying for that is your problem, and illegal in many places, no matter how therapeutic.

As Guy Clark once wrote about going to the psychiatrist, "second best hundred dollars I ever spent."
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:36 PM on June 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


ack, "clinical study," not "style," sorry.
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:36 PM on June 4, 2011


My high school AP math teacher-- who had a PhD and was addressed as 'doctor'-- thought there was a fundamental error in the epsilon-delta account of derivatives laid out in our text (Thomas, then standard).

I could see where he'd gone wrong, and about the third time he said it, I decided to help him out and raised my hand to explain. Two sentences in, I noticed his expression had gone stricken, and that his eyes were brimming. I stopped dead and said 'hmm, on second thought, maybe you're right', at which his shoulders slumped and he let out almost a shuddering breath.

A few of the other kids were kind of mad at me after class, and I had no real love for this guy because he'd accused me of cheating in 10th grade after I got a perfect score on a geometry assessment test covering solid geometry he'd dug up somewhere when we'd spent the whole year on plane exclusively, and nobody else had gotten 50%.

But it was a near-involuntary response on my part; I just couldn't bring myself to humiliate him like that.
posted by jamjam at 2:54 PM on June 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


My son got in trouble in grade school because, when asked what direction the earth rotated in, he answered "It depends on your point of view." He wasn't even being a smart ass, he just really understood the question.

Your son could have said that the earth rotates from west to east, which is correct. If the question was "does it rotate clockwise or counter-clockwise?", then the answer depends on your point of view.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 3:19 PM on June 4, 2011


What she taught me was that if incorrect facts weren't actually germane to the matter at hand, correcting them was often not constructive, a life lesson I still use all the time, and one I can tell many of my colleagues never learned.

This kind of thinking is why space probes blow up on the launch pad or career out toward interstellar space instead of ending up in orbit around Mars or wherever they're supposed to be.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 3:23 PM on June 4, 2011 [11 favorites]


Mrs. Brozovich, wherever the hell you are, I was NOT a "phony" because I carried around an armful of books with me in seventh grade that were not the approved school district texts.

When I was six, Mrs. Jones accused me of lying when I mentioned I was reading Watership Down, and then accused my Mom of coaching me on the plot when she backed me up. In the end, I had to read passages from the book to Mrs. Jones and the headmaster (who was lovely), defining long words on request. I'll never forget the look of sheer, unbridled hate that bitch gave me when it became apparent that I was telling the truth, and, you know, could read.

That the woman was a child-hating loony is obvious, but the bit that really puzzles me is that the book in question was Watership Down. It's a children's classic, for crying out loud. It's not like I was claiming to be taking a break from my study of the Metaphysical poets due to a growing fascination with the Modernist novel. You old cow.

It's only been thirty years, I'm sure the rage will subside in a decade or two.
posted by jack_mo at 3:27 PM on June 4, 2011 [20 favorites]


If an incorrect fact makes your spaceship blow up, it probably was germane to the matter at hand.
posted by thirteenkiller at 3:27 PM on June 4, 2011 [21 favorites]


I didn't forget to close a tag, those are the italics of righteous anger.
posted by jack_mo at 3:29 PM on June 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


If an incorrect fact makes your spaceship blow up, it probably was germane to the matter at hand.

Well, by definition. But it might not have been known to be germane to the matter at hand before the launch. It might have been allowed to slide because it "wasn't important".
posted by Crabby Appleton at 3:34 PM on June 4, 2011


Technicalities!
posted by thirteenkiller at 3:38 PM on June 4, 2011


This can be implemented into any form of legitimate care for patients in pain, at no major cost and without implying benefits that can't possibly exist at the same time. I am always taken aback when alternative medicine advocates (not saying you are one) argue for the benefits of the placebo effect as if this were a distinctive benefit of their methods. It's like the "bargaining" stage, following the anger and denial stages.

Taking time to attend to patients actually can't be implemented in very many forms of legitimate care --because caseloads are too high and no one will do the research to prove that paying attention and being present can be therapeutic--although I recognize your point that no one has cornered the market on a lot of what's good for people. Actually, having the time to attend, in a completely attentive, present manner, has been squeezed out of most care in the US, by therapeutic practices that can be operationalized, measured, standardized and delivered cheaply. Most of those practices leave health care workers wishing they had the time to sit, listen, attend, sooth, etc.

I don't want to derail the thread. I know it's easy to see where people into alternative therapies employ seemingly self-serving logic to describe what they do. What interests me is the almost religious faith some people have in the scientific method as the only method for producing "truth" -- and yet the same people make decisions every day without waiting for the scientific experiment that will unequivocally tell them it's a good idea. I've seen a lot of good practices end suffering or improve health that shouldn't be stopped or go unreimbursed waiting for a research study to validate them.
posted by vitabellosi at 3:44 PM on June 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd expand on that a little, and say that one of the very best answers to a child's question is, "I don't know. Let's go find out."

When I trained university-level tutors, this was one of their first lessons. One of the primary fears of new tutors (and new teachers, I imagine) is that they don't know the answers to every question that someone could ask them. Brief tutor training sessions or even whole tutor-training courses couldn't give them the answer to every possible question. Giving them the best tool to deal with that fear, though (saying, "I don't know. Let's look it up."), led to better better tutors because they were equipped to deal with unexpected questions.

The smartest people didn't always make good tutors. The best tutors were those who had a good grasp on what resources were available to them so they could look up questions they didn't know the answers to and could help students learn to use those same resources to look up answers when they didn't have a tutor in front of them.
posted by BlooPen at 3:51 PM on June 4, 2011


Friend of mine had a teacher accuse her of having had taken the class before and was retaking it and doing well and correcting her FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE OF HUMILIATING SAID TEACHER.

This was in college.
posted by The Whelk at 3:52 PM on June 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


If an incorrect fact makes your spaceship blow up, it probably was germane to the matter at hand.

"I always mess up some mundane detail!"
posted by dirigibleman at 4:05 PM on June 4, 2011


I can't remember correcting any teachers k-12 , mostly cause I was shy and I was so fucking lucky to have a serious run of great teachers, but I do remember what a huge crushing letdown college was. Thus was the same college as the friend above, an arts college, and I had been told, oh well you'll really bloom in college cause you've got such great potential and you won all these prizes and blah blah blah.

So I get there and first day I've got teachers spouting off crap about anatomy I know is wrong, like stuff you'd know is wrong if you ever cracked open a Bridgeman's Anatomy For The Artist for five seconds. And the color theory crap, biting my tongue while professors say you should use red as the base for figures and blue for the background because ...red is blood and gives life. Not cause red jumps out more to the eye cause we have more red receptors and that's why the stop sign and light is red and not cause basic color theory says so and besides there are lots of examples of this being not the case in history ...which led to an epic argument about, of all things, egg tempura, where one professor refuses to acknowledge that the qualities of egg tempura made it look that way and insisted it was just personal taste, like despite me being able to back up my argument with primary source documents from when said frescos where being painted.

We had to take a liberal arts and science requirement and I was SO STOKED. Finally! College level stuff! Real stuff! I go to my science requirement and it's ...awful. Dreck really. With tons of glossing. I don't say anything, of course, it would be rube and interrupt the class, but afterwards I ask her ..is there anyway I can skip this class? Cause this is like HS freshman stuff. She says no but I bring up how she said your grade would be based on a weekly quiz ( oh such a red flag ) and I asked if she had some copies of them and she did. So I did a years worth of pop quizzes in a half hour and she graded them in front of me and I got 90 or better on all of them, not cause I AM AMAZING but cause this was stuff a reasonably bright ten year old would know. I asked if she could just give me a passing grade and I wouldn't have to show up cause I really needed more studio time and she said ..no, I can't have you not show up and not get a grade.

So that class became my lunchtime, and I worked on cartoons, one of which got into the New Yorker and then I dropped out.

The less said about the mandatory computer courses the better. I still think they owe me back adjunct pay cause I basically taught that course and the overworked struggling print designer was happy to let me explain to my contemporaries what saving a file was.

Of course I found out later they owed adjuncts millions in back pay and once tried to pay them in yoga lessons so maybe I shouldn't press it.
posted by The Whelk at 4:34 PM on June 4, 2011 [14 favorites]


"Do you think most of the kids in this class are going to remember how I spelled words on the board, afterwards? Do you think it's going to mess up their spelling skills?"

"Yeah, I think it probably will. Maybe this kind of bullshit thinking is why you can't spell words suitable for a first grade vocabulary. You seem to be aware that you have a problem, but you don't seem to be inclined to do anything about it. Maybe check the words you're going to write on the board in the dictionary the night before; that way, you don't have to get embarrassed and we don't have to settle for a second-rate education. You're supposed to be a fucking professional. Act like one."
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:52 PM on June 4, 2011 [11 favorites]


a good idea. I've seen a lot of good practices end suffering or improve health that shouldn't be stopped or go unreimbursed waiting for a research study to validate
them.


A research study is all we've got other than anecdotes that are probably unreliable. What's the alternative standard for reimbursability, *especially* where there is no plausible mechanism for efficacy above a placebo effect. Whether the standard of care is insufficiently attentive or compassionate is also an empirical question, and no reason soviet should pay for an ineffective underlying therapeutic claim. Resources are limited. Care must be rationed. What we pay for should be proven to work.
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:10 PM on June 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Society not soviet, but it's a funny error
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:10 PM on June 4, 2011


The children that didn't correct their teachers didn't end up on metafilter.
posted by oxford blue at 6:26 PM on June 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


When I am corrected in class, I yell at the other students for not correcting me. When students don't want to put something up on the board, I tell them that I screw up all the time and, as the teacher, have no excuse while they're just learning.
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:37 PM on June 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


When I am corrected in class, I yell at the other students for not correcting me.

That seems like it would be a really quick way to get your students to hate That One Kid who corrects you.

If you're trying to actively encourage corrections, what if you told your students "Every day I am going to intentionally make one error. If you point out what it is, your grade on the final exam goes up by one percent."

Bonus: you probably don't even need to make any intentional mistakes. They'll call you on the accidental ones and you can cover your ass saying "oh yes good job Sally, that was the intentional error! *ahem*"
posted by Riki tiki at 7:09 PM on June 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


Kind of reiterating what I said earlier in this thread, but I'm kind of surprised at the amount of hostility shown towards teachers in this thread. I don't know if it's because I'm older than everyone commenting here (I turn 40 in a couple of months) and therefore further away from the experience of being a student, but even though I had no small amount of shitty teachers (and not enough rock star teachers), I can't get myself worked up about their various foibles and failures as human beings.

Putting on my "adult" hat, I tend to reinterpret them as fellow adults. We all have our strong points and weak points.

It may also be because I am a lapsed teacher; I have no great expectations for a public school education in Canada these days. I've found that it helps to lower or manage my expectations now that my own children are in the school system.

Are they being taught to read and write? Check. Are they being taught basic numeracy? Check. That's all I expect. I think I can handle instilling a sense of wonder and critical thinking at home.

I don't need the State doing that for me, thank you very much.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:30 PM on June 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


"I see nothing wrong with exploiting the stupid... I exploit the stupid, and over time they become intellectually stronger for it. It's the same reason the giraffe has a long neck. If you don't understand this you're probably being exploited."
posted by Civil_Disobedient

I'm basically with you on this, but on the other hand they're collectively the ones* destroying the planet. Wouldn't it be better just to eat them all, or something? I don't think we can afford to wait for them to evolve into Al Gore.

Because, you know.

*Or is it the little bit of stupid in each of us? I can never tell...
posted by sneebler at 7:35 PM on June 4, 2011


I exploit the stupid

I'm afraid I'm slowly becoming a bit Straussian about this. I'm starting to feel that someone is going to exploit the stupid and the Right has had thirty years at the reins.

We need to think of a mythos to sell them. Something where brotherhood and empathy and selflessness are rewarded. Perhaps in another world...
posted by Trochanter at 7:47 PM on June 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


don't know if it's because I'm older than everyone commenting here (I turn 40 in a couple of months)

Trust me, you're not.

Are they being taught to read and write? Check. Are they being taught basic numeracy? Check. That's all I expect. I think I can handle instilling a sense of wonder and critical thinking at home.

That's good up to a point, but if all my son needed was basics, I could do that myself. I can teach him critical thinking, but, I need someone whose teaching him advanced ideas that also allows him to use his critical thinking...because otherwise he might not learn anything but enough to get him through the tests, which seems like a waste of everyone's time.
posted by emjaybee at 7:52 PM on June 4, 2011


dammit. Who is, not whose.
posted by emjaybee at 7:53 PM on June 4, 2011


I run an after school program for 5 and 6 year old kids. A few months ago, during a talk about a book containing aliens one of them asked me if aliens are real or made up. I explained that these particular aliens were made up but that people don't really know if any life exists on other planets but the more we find out the more it seems there might be tiny organisms or plants somewhere besides Earth.


"What ELSE don't grownups know!?" Shouted one from the back. I spent a few minutes, and even more time over the next few days listing the mysteries of the universe for them.

The idea that there were some things even teachers don't know what absolutely delightful to them. And now when I give them fantastical seeming information they ask me to cite a source. (Last week I was called upon to prove that some ocean animals create their own light.) I am not lying when I say it is my very favorite thing about the tone of my classroom.
posted by Saminal at 8:43 PM on June 4, 2011 [35 favorites]


Wow, Saminal, you've got a hell of a class there. Enjoy that one!
posted by Malor at 9:03 PM on June 4, 2011


...one of the very best answers to a child's question is, "I don't know. Let's go find out."

Damn! All I ever got was, "There's the encyclopedia. Go look it up."

Now there's the intarwebs, and I love looking it up!
posted by BlueHorse at 9:33 PM on June 4, 2011


don't know if it's because I'm older than everyone commenting here

You're not.

I don't really see any undeserved hostility, to be honest. I've seen a lot of examples of teachers who have reacted really, really poorly when it's pointed out that they are incorrect about something. I agree with the idea floated upthread that maybe pointing out simple spelling mistakes and the like in front of the whole class isn't the kindest thing, even though having a teacher who can't spell doesn't exactly bode well for the future of those students. But the teacher in phunniemee's comment, or in flarbuse's comment, or in FishBike's comment, or in heyho's comment, or in jack_mo's comment -- all of those teachers deserve the treatment they're getting here.

These teachers weren't just wrong about something -- it's okay to be wrong, we're all human and humans get things wrong. But when you're a teacher, and you're wrong about the fundamental facts you're teaching and you're too proud to acknowledge that you could be wrong (as we saw in some of these examples), or you're attacking a child's intelligence for any reason at all (as we saw in other examples), then you're a crappy teacher and your methods deserve derision. Teachers like that should not be teachers.

It's great that you don't expect much from your educational system, but I don't think expecting basic competence is as outlandish as you're painting it.
posted by palomar at 10:34 PM on June 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


Because generally, you need to discount the placebo effect in a clinical style, precisely because it's a baseline effect of any therapeutic intervention.

Hold on, there are cases in which a placebo can be useful. And among those who have lost confidence in science-based medicine for whatever reason -- not seeing results, their problem is really in their mind, etc -- it seems like a placebo through "alternative medicine" might be a good solution. Obviously if such a patient doesn't think a pill can treat his pain you can't just give him a sugar pill. So you recommend him to a touch healer who can quote a bunch of mumbo-jumbo about "chi imbalance" and "energy pathways" and such. And suddenly the placebo effect kicks in and the patient feels better.

Of course the problem is that alt medicine practitioners claim they can do so much more, but then again -- if they admitted their work really is only a placebo then everyone would lose confidence in their treatments and they wouldn't even have a placebo effect.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 11:20 PM on June 4, 2011


The children that didn't correct their teachers didn't end up on metafilter.

Some of them, however, fail to master the use of the relative pronoun.
posted by Wolof at 2:12 AM on June 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


If you believe knowledge of what facts are germane for anything but a simple system, you are hopelessly naive.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 3:24 AM on June 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't know if it's because I'm older than everyone commenting here (I turn 40 in a couple of months) and therefore further away from the experience of being a student....

I've never stopped being a student (just going to school) that may be the root of my frustration with this sort of nonsense. Any time someone wants to argue that their opinion is factually correct for reasons of their authority (and convenience) and that I must respect that, they're just another Gordian knot in my day.

You know what happened to the Gordian knot?
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 3:45 AM on June 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Of course the placebo effect is useful. But not as the sole benefit of a therapy that claims to be doing more. All therapeutic interventions have a placebo effect. The difference is that some actually work as advertised too.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:14 AM on June 5, 2011


Also, the debate here is about who pays for placebo only medicine. You wanna do mumbo jumbo alt med all day on your own dime? Knock yourself out.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:16 AM on June 5, 2011


The children that didn't correct their teachers didn't end up on metafilter.

Yeah, I did, which is why I don't have one of these funny stories with a good punchline. I deeply regret that. All I have is stories of passive-aggressive behavior in high school, like the time I used my newly-found skills from an advanced grammar class to make the required one-page essay on a news item in Government class all one sentence. One perfectly grammatical sentence.

And despite having written for the school paper and people constantly saying I was a good writer, never getting better than a B in high school English. Come to think of it, despite a generally good college GPA, the first A I ever got in an English class was a senior level business writing class. Which coincided, come to think of it, with the first time I seriously challenged a teacher about the bullshit way she had graded one of my papers.

No, I'm not bitter.
posted by randomkeystrike at 5:29 AM on June 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


One day as the other kids were working on something or other, she pulled me aside and sat me down and said, "Did you ever notice that when you interrupt me to correct my spelling, it takes me a few minutes after that to get the class back on track?"

I teach first grade, and if it took your teacher minutes to get them back on track after being corrected, she's doing it wrong. She sounds nice and all, but after the first couple of times this happens there should be no reaction at all, because the corrector gets some quick praise and things move on.

This year I have a boy who asked for more challenging words, and I ended up giving him words from the yourdictionary.com 150 Most Misspelled Words list. He usually got 100% on the tests. He got up to onomatopoeia.

I also teach my kids that every time they hear a science or history (or really any) fact, they should ask, "How do we know that's true?" We then look for a primary source document or research or whatever. ScienceDaily.com is a great resource for this. It's not for kids at all, but you can show them how citations work and it links to some journal articles, and the writing is simple enough that you can confirm facts for them. Eating Dirt can be Good for the Belly is one I used recently.

It's amazing how many science books written for kids have no citations at all.

I'm hoping that asking, "How do WE know that's true?" will stop teachers from being offended, but man, this thread is freaking me out.

One last thing, in a certain publisher's (wHo shall remain naMeless) reading series for first grade, there's a story that the teacher reads to the children, a fairy tale about a girl who grows a pumpkin inside a bottle and gets to marry the king. The teacher's manual asks us to explain to the children that it's an Indonesian story, and to show them where it is on the map and so on.

There's also a picture with the story, and, I kid you not, it shows two blonde, blue-eyed people, the king on a horse, with classic fairy tale European clothing, with a big stone castle in the background. I spend enough time with this to ensure that they understand how disrespectful that picture is, and I've had a couple of kids ask if we could write letters about it (including a girl from Indonesia), and we did... got a form letter back.

This year we got new teacher's manuals, AND THE FRIGGING PICTURE IS STILL THERE...! One one hand I'm angry, but it is a great way to teach my kids to question everything.
posted by Huck500 at 6:06 AM on June 5, 2011 [11 favorites]


ON one hand, that is.
posted by Huck500 at 6:12 AM on June 5, 2011


As evidence for my rendering of his thesis statement, I would point out his title "Kids who spot bullshit, and the adults who get upset about it", the fact that 7 of the post's 12 paragraphs consists of detailed anecdotes about children challenging quackery,

There are several possible 'thesis statements' that could be drawn from this. For example, "In contrast to received wisdom, children can be motivated by science" or "Children's lack of preconceptions can make them effective spotters of adults' false beliefs" which are just as close to the article as "Children have a natural interest in science and can readily detect quackery"

However, this is a newspaper column, so it doesn't need a thesis. It can be just a collection of interesting anecdotes, linked by theme, with some tentative conclusions. As for those conclusions, they are not:

"People wring their hands over how to make science relevant and accessible, but...[we have the answer,] evidence based medicine." All schools should teach this, but in the meantime, "we can feel optimistic [because]... A child can know more about evidence than their peers, and more than adults, and more than their own teachers".

That is a distortion of the article's final paragraphs, via cherry-picking and inference-drawing. Here's a more accurate summary (emphasis mine):

"People wring their hands over how to make science relevant and accessible, but... [one answer, based on the area of science that sells newspapers is] evidence based medicine." "If every school taught the basics ... it would help everyone navigate the world" but in the meantime, "we can feel optimistic [because we have unprecedented access to gaining and sharing information and so]... a child can know more about evidence than their peers, and more than adults, and more than their own teachers; they can tell the world what they know, and they can have an impact."

As rhetoric it's decent, as science it's shit, which I'm sure the author is aware.

This seems very close to "A-ha, Mr Scientist! You didn't do a double-blind study to select your WIFE, did you? Hypocrite!" Someone being an enthusiast for the scientific method does not require them to produce peer-reviewed evidence of every belief they hold.

It's unfortunate, because there's a good point there (and one Goldacre has made in previous columns) about our tendency to accept weaker evidence for beliefs we are predisposed to (anecdotes about stupid authority) than beliefs we are not (studies that show that the most effective way to stimulate the economy is corporate tax cuts) and
posted by Busy Old Fool at 9:11 AM on June 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


"It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble, it's what you know for sure that just ain't so."

-Mark Twain
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:03 AM on June 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


Here's a Newsnight feature and interview with the founder of Brain Gym.
posted by homunculus at 11:15 AM on June 5, 2011


Just to show this doesn't have to be a total pile on and people trying to bestow knowledge don't have to suck:

Once upon a time I was taking a class taught by this guy, where he pointed out that as temperature increased so did the paramagnetic effect. I asked how that related to the Currie effect (where magnetic interaction goes away as temperature goes up). He stopped, looked at the graph he just drew for a second or two and said, "Let me get back to you on that."

About three weeks later he did.

Turns out, the issue is that the Currie effect is a ferromagnetism phenomenon, not a paramagnetism phenomenon.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 12:15 PM on June 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


This thread is reinforcing my decision to homeschool.
posted by Jacqueline at 1:12 PM on June 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just don't wear weird costumes.
posted by philip-random at 4:44 PM on June 5, 2011


[ ... he said, forgetting which thread he was in ...]
posted by philip-random at 4:45 PM on June 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think that it's funny to think about all of the smartest-people-in-the-room posting in this thread about how so many people are idiots are probably the people who will (and have, if post history is any indication) absolutely refuse to admit when they're wrong because they're the smartest-people-in-the-room, and most other people are idiots. Maybe some of them are even teachers.
posted by codacorolla at 6:26 PM on June 5, 2011


Being homeschooled is the greatest gift my parents ever gave me. When I got to college and received a low grade for using vocabulary above a tenth grade reading level (yes, the grade level was enumerated), I was sufficiently surprised to escalate to the head of the department. My grade was revised, and the adjunct became a significantly better teacher after the encounter. Homeschooling isn't for the faint of heart, but it can be phenomenal for the right kid. Go boldly!
posted by stoneweaver at 7:56 PM on June 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Another thing to note about all these interactions with teachers at their worst is that they are, as mentioned, at their worst. Everybody can remember the time they cut someone off in their car or accidentally stepped on someone's foot in a line; not everyone remembers to apply the same level of compassion to others when they are the victim of those scenarios S they do with themselves when they are the perpetrators. So it is with teaching, I suspect...
posted by Fraxas at 9:15 PM on June 5, 2011


In first grade I remember the indoctrination of reading from left to right. The chalkboard read, "5-3=?" and Mrs Bentley took a lot of time translating the math into English sentences to reinforce the left to right construction.

It reads "five minus three equals what? There's no way," she said, "it could read three minus five because that's not possible."

Knowing otherwise, I raised my hand because I have older brothers who had gone though all this and my dad is something of a math wiz, "Yeah," I shouted, "you can do that, it's a minus two."

Mrs Bentley was pissed off that I ruined her just-so explanation and I clearly remember her telling me that I need to sit on that negative number wisdom until the third grade.

I never trusted a math lesson again until I had had this guy teach me about multivariabe calculus.
posted by peeedro at 11:00 PM on June 5, 2011


I had a journalism teacher in high school once who had just started teaching at our school. In class one day she was reading aloud an article about the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The article mentioned the film Fat Man and Little Boy, at which point the teacher scoffed and told us that she had "never seen the movie, but with a name like that I can't imagine it's any good".

I politely mentioned that Fat Man and Little Boy were the names of the bombs detonated over Nagasaki and Hiroshima, respectively. Her face went ghost white and her eyes immediately darted to the back of the room, where the director of her department had been sitting, monitoring her performance as a new teacher. He audibly stifled a laugh at my comment, composed himself, and just said "well, he got you there. Proceed."
posted by Riptor at 12:21 PM on June 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Resources are limited. Care must be rationed. What we pay for should be proven to work.

These three sentences are full of assumptions that not everyone shares.

And that is my point about different groups' assumptions about 'legitimate knowledge.' The scientific method may work well in the laboratory--but that's not where all questions of care can be answered. Try to apply quantitative research to humans--human meaning-making in particular--and you lose credibility with average people pretty quickly. There are too many decision points in Research that are not transparent-- made necessary by the dictates of method and feasability.

Take this askmeta for example. You could define "criminals" as anyone who has knowingly committed a crime--but it would be impossible to actually find these people--so you define criminals as "people convicted of a crime"--and advocates of the poor cry foul because technically guilty rich people with better representation are able to escape conviction more often than technically guilty poor people. But you're a researcher, and you have to get on with it, so you leave it up to your colleagues at your peer reviewed journal to cry official foul at your definition of criminal and you proceed, knowing that you're not actually doing research on criminals, but on convicted criminals. Maybe you mention it in your journal article as a limitation of your research--but none of the other published criminologists do, so you probably don't. And when CNN calls and wants to do a piece on your research, they certainly don't care that your generalized "truth" about criminals has this decisional moment in it.

I could easily give you examples from medicine--especially concerning the "empirically supported treatment" movement within mental health. It's famously difficult to differentiate between depression and anxiety in patients-- or to find one without the other-but the dictates of research require isolating and narrowing what youre looking at and research study for Drug A only wants women who have depression and not anxiety in order to prove effectiveness---oh, and no PTSD or personality disorders either--and they have to come to the academic hospital for treatment, so nobody who doesn't have a car or the money for bus fare. There-- now we've proven that Drug A works for depression. But the physician in daily practice doesn't have many patients who fit this profile-- in fact, it's hard to find anyone at my clinic that doesn't have a history of trauma or have a second diagnosis. But the insurance company (or federal govt) will only pay for Drug A because it's been proven to work (in other people) and no one will do complicated studies on complicated patients. My patient is not responding to treatment...

Here's an even bigger problem---the most effective treatment still isn't effective for everyone--but it's the most often effective treatment and no one wants to do research on treatments for the other people--not enough people would buy it, not enough profit (US model, that is)....
posted by vitabellosi at 12:48 PM on June 6, 2011


My english teacher didn't believe in the verb "to get", with all of its conjugations. She called it "slang" and deducted marks for its use. God. Damnit.
posted by tehloki at 5:05 PM on June 6, 2011


Ha, that's appalling!
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 5:23 PM on June 6, 2011


How do these people get work?
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 5:23 PM on June 6, 2011


Because teaching (a) pays poorly (b) is low status (c) is incredibly hard work and (d) is punished in the United States.
posted by Peach at 3:50 AM on June 7, 2011


Mrs Bentley was pissed off that I ruined her just-so explanation and I clearly remember her telling me that I need to sit on that negative number wisdom until the third grade.

God damn, I have kids using negatives in my first grade class every day. What the hell is wrong with people?
posted by Huck500 at 7:12 PM on June 7, 2011


On a similar subject, I had teachers today trying to correct my use of the present subjunctive because apparently they don't know what it is.

I have a fear that eventually I'll be considered stupid or, worse, my students will be considered stupid because we use some grammatical rule that no one knows about anymore.
posted by Huck500 at 7:17 PM on June 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I need to sit on that negative number wisdom until the third grade.

For me it was fractions. New South Wales Year 4? Fractions and decimals. Queensland Year 5? Decimals only. You'll do fractions in high school. (This was 1985.)

Until one day they decided to put fractions on the Australian Mathematics Competition, and I was charged with spending three lunch hours and three hours after school helping everybody else to cram - because my Year 7 teacher didn't know how to do fractions or what a 'nominator' was. Onya, Miss.

I also wasn't allowed to do short division. SHORT DIVISION.

"You must use long division. We need to see your working."
"So you can be sure I know how to subtract two digit numbers?"
'Um...yes."
"But I didn't even use short division. I just know that 15 x 15 is 225. See? I didn't carry a remainder..."
"You're a liar. We only teach you up to your 12x tables."
"...can I go now?"
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:51 AM on June 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


> Related, you kids who corrected the teacher but still didn't get your extra mark for 100%: You didn't need that mark, you are not the kids that test was for.

Oh, I needed that mark. I did not get B grades. Heh. No.
posted by heyho at 12:13 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Crabby Appleton: "This kind of thinking is why space probes blow up on the launch pad or career out toward interstellar space instead of ending up in orbit around Mars or wherever they're supposed to be."

Heh... I'm impressed no one's fallen into the trap of pointing out your ironic-typo-that's-not-actually-a-typo (and wondering if you picked that word on purpose).
posted by Rhaomi at 1:31 AM on June 16, 2011


# verb: rush, run, speed, gallop
posted by Trochanter at 8:38 AM on June 16, 2011


Rhaomi, no, I wasn't setting a trap. But thanks for ascribing more subtlety to me than I was actually demonstrating. Does the usage seem odd or archaic to you? My dictionary says "move swiftly and in an uncontrolled way in a specified direction." It's the word that occurred to me; well, actually, "careen" also occurred to me, but I think "career" is older. I guess I could have used "fly", or "zip", or something.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 4:05 PM on June 18, 2011


« Older Matt Barton's Matt Chat started as a series of dis...  |  Let Children Be Children... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments