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  #1  
Old 08-05-2009, 05:22 PM
Frylock Frylock is online now
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Has there been a formal debunking of this "note home from teacher"?

http://zerooutoffive.blogspot.com/20...gs-around.html

The purported note says

Quote:
You may already know this, but in case Alex has neglected to tell you, I am assigning him to detention for one hour this Friday, April 22nd. The reason is as follows:

Alex consistently defied me. During class he contradicted me numerous times when I insisted that the length of one kilometer was greater than that of one mile. Every other student in class accepted my lesson without argument, but your son refused to believe what I told him, offering such rebuttals as, "You're lying to the class," and commanding other students to challenge my curriculum.

Although he was correct, Alex's actions show a blatant disregard for authority, and a complete lack of respect for his school. In the future, Alex would be better off simply accepting my teachings without resistance.

Please see to it that your son understands this.
My inclination is to immediately reject this note as a fake. However I have been surprised about this kind of thing in the past. I'd like it if someone has somehow taken the trouble to trace this note to its source.
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  #2  
Old 08-05-2009, 05:28 PM
WoodenTaco WoodenTaco is offline
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Snopes calls it undetermined.
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  #3  
Old 08-05-2009, 05:38 PM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
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Well, I got in serious trouble as a sixth grader when the teacher told us that Central America is a country and those little lines on the map are states, you know, like Georgia and Texas are. God, it made me furious. I brought in outside cites, too. Got sent to the principal's office and had a day of in school suspension.
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  #4  
Old 08-05-2009, 05:38 PM
Punoqllads Punoqllads is offline
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Note that the Snopes page has a link to where it first showed up, and it looks like there's some contact information there. No idea if it will turn out to have happened to a friend of a friend, and we know how those things usually pan out.
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  #5  
Old 08-05-2009, 05:40 PM
mswas mswas is offline
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Yeah I've seen that one before. Any school that punishes my kid for correcting the teacher and being correct had better have a lawyer handy.
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  #6  
Old 08-05-2009, 05:40 PM
Bootis Bootis is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WoodenTaco View Post
Snopes calls it undetermined.

Not that it proves anything, but the fact the letter is dated 4/20 puts 1 point to the fake side
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  #7  
Old 08-05-2009, 05:42 PM
Punoqllads Punoqllads is offline
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Right now I'm thinking of the phrase, "Just because it didn't happen doesn't mean it isn't true."
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  #8  
Old 08-05-2009, 06:02 PM
aruvqan aruvqan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mswas View Post
Yeah I've seen that one before. Any school that punishes my kid for correcting the teacher and being correct had better have a lawyer handy.
made my mom decide to run for the school board. I had a spiffy book I got for Christmas, Portraits of Nobel Laureates in Medicine and Physiology. The teacher said that Dr Walter Reid was the only inventor of the yellow fever vaccine. I objected and pointed out he shared the discovery with several other doctors, and showed him the book. I got slammed for correcting the jackass, and yelled at for having a non school book in my desk in class. I got sent to the office and put on detention for a week. My mom was ripping pissed, and she brought in the actual textbook he was supposed to be teaching from, where it even said that it was Dr Reid and a team that discovered the vaccine ... she also pointed out that not only did I have a 4.0 average in the class, I had aced every single test and pop quiz, and submitted every single assignment on time and done correctly. She pointed out that that sort of teacher was why the quality of education was declining, and she told them that I was not going to finish that class with that jerk. I hung out in the library, and handed the questions in the book to the librarian to be graded, and took the NY state testing at the end of the year and still had my 4.0 grade ... and the next year I went back to private school [where I was treated as a person, not a body filling a seat.] She got elected and kicked ass .. a number of teachers got put on probation for the way they were treating the students and the overall test scores improved over the next 5 years.
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  #9  
Old 08-05-2009, 06:30 PM
drachillix drachillix is offline
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Originally Posted by Punoqllads View Post
Right now I'm thinking of the phrase, "Just because it didn't happen doesn't mean it isn't true."
My last job had me interacting with elementary school teachers on a daily basis. I could see about 10% of them babbling something like the OP. I had one wanting to check my math in case I had miscarried adding up her invoice in Excel.

Like the guys at microsoft missed that when they wrote excel.

Right up there with proofreading photocopies.
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  #10  
Old 08-05-2009, 06:58 PM
The Hamster King The Hamster King is online now
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I once initiated a long argument with my high-school physics teacher over a problem he'd worked out on the blackboard. He'd made two major math mistakes which just happened to cancel each other out, so he had the RIGHT answer according to his teacher's textbook, but his methodology was completely broken. As more and more of the class caught on to what the error was he dug in his heels deeper and deeper. After all, the answer was RIGHT! The book said so! It was impossible for him to have made a mistake!
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  #11  
Old 08-05-2009, 07:06 PM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WoodenTaco View Post
Snopes calls it undetermined.
The point about the smart quotes seems pretty convincing to me on first glance. If this is a typewritten letter, which it's supposed to look like, would most people have access to a typewriter that has both left and right quotes?
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  #12  
Old 08-05-2009, 07:09 PM
The Devil's Grandmother The Devil's Grandmother is offline
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Originally Posted by Frylock View Post
My inclination is to immediately reject this note as a fake.
I also think it's a fake, but mostly because the note is too well written for a grade school teacher.
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  #13  
Old 08-05-2009, 07:11 PM
Kimmy_Gibbler Kimmy_Gibbler is offline
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Originally Posted by mswas View Post
Yeah I've seen that one before. Any school that punishes my kid for correcting the teacher and being correct had better have a lawyer handy.
You can search through every volume of your McKinney's, but I'm pretty sure being a shitty teacher is not against the law.

As to the truth of the tale, the letter seems a little too arch to be genuine. I have no doubt that lèse majesté is still punished in the schools, albeit more clandestinely.
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  #14  
Old 08-05-2009, 07:22 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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My mother was my homeroom teacher as well as my science teacher in 5th and 6th grade. I sat in the back of the class but always raised my hand and corrected her when she was obviously wrong and I would prove it to her later. That didn't go over well and still doesn't to this day on those subjects. The note is probably fake but something like that could easily happen somewhere.
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  #15  
Old 08-05-2009, 07:29 PM
Jerseyman Jerseyman is offline
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It's extremes that are wrong - I'm teacher so I'm right and let's discuss this, we maybe stars are holes in the sky. We have to know when to put the foot down, that if you want to dispute this,learn about it first, and when not to, western orchestral music has value, rock and Afro-Asian are primitive.
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  #16  
Old 08-05-2009, 07:41 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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---

Last edited by Shagnasty; 08-05-2009 at 07:42 PM..
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  #17  
Old 08-05-2009, 07:55 PM
Voyager Voyager is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kimmy_Gibbler View Post
You can search through every volume of your McKinney's, but I'm pretty sure being a shitty teacher is not against the law.
He said lawyer, not D.A.

This kind of thing was why we both got very involved in our kids' schools. Much easier to get heard if you have an existing relationship with the principal. But it is also why kids whose parents have a clue do better - because the parents will push back.
However I doubt the letter also. It smells of right wing "support vouchers because all public schools are terrible and teachers are ignorant Nazis" cant - see many Mallard Fillmores for example.
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  #18  
Old 08-05-2009, 08:09 PM
Frylock Frylock is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WoodenTaco View Post
Snopes calls it undetermined.
Thanks, and I promise I did look on Snopes, I just missed it somehow.
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  #19  
Old 08-05-2009, 08:18 PM
Slithy Tove Slithy Tove is offline
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I remember interrupting my 4th grade teacher telling us that Davy Crockett was killed fighting at the Alamo (she'd seen the John Wayne movie - I hadn't but used to browse the encyclopedia), to assert he was killed afterwards. Looking back as an adult, I realize she was just rolling her eyes and thinking to herself "he's wrong, but let him have his moment. Davy Crockett is just as dead anyway."
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  #20  
Old 08-05-2009, 09:04 PM
Kimmy_Gibbler Kimmy_Gibbler is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Voyager View Post
He said lawyer, not D.A.
And I meant lawyer, not D.A. It is neither a crime nor a tort (the courts have repeatedly declined to create such causes of action as "instructional negligence" or "educational malpractice" nor are First Amendment rights implicated in forbidding a student from correcting his teacher mid-lesson nor has due process been violated in penalizing a student for doing so). On the more interesting topic of instructional negligence/educational malpractice, see "Educational Malpractice and Academic Damages".

But, I guess you are right: to the extent that I said "you can search every volume of your McKinney's" I should have said "you can search every volume of your McKinney's and New York Reports" since I was also including the common law of torts. Nice catch.

Last edited by Kimmy_Gibbler; 08-05-2009 at 09:06 PM..
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  #21  
Old 08-05-2009, 09:08 PM
Rigamarole Rigamarole is offline
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Probably 'shopped.

Last edited by Rigamarole; 08-05-2009 at 09:09 PM..
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  #22  
Old 08-05-2009, 09:09 PM
CookingWithGas CookingWithGas is offline
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Just gotta add that when my daughter was in the fourth grade she came home with a flash card that told her that the International Dateline was another name for the Prime Meridian. I sent a note to her teacher to correct the error. Two years later, my son was in the fourth grade and came home with the same flash card. This time I paid her a visit.
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  #23  
Old 08-05-2009, 09:28 PM
RickJay RickJay is offline
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If I am not mistaken, it was Sam Stone who some time ago discovered his child was being taught that beavers are amphibians.
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  #24  
Old 08-05-2009, 09:31 PM
Tamex Tamex is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
The point about the smart quotes seems pretty convincing to me on first glance. If this is a typewritten letter, which it's supposed to look like, would most people have access to a typewriter that has both left and right quotes?
Could have been done on a computer in Courier font, even in 1994. I graduated in '94, and I think that the Macs we played with in high school had smart quotes, too, when using Microsoft Word. (I'm having trouble finding out which version of Word started using smart quotes.)
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  #25  
Old 08-05-2009, 09:57 PM
Frylock Frylock is online now
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Originally Posted by RickJay View Post
If I am not mistaken, it was Sam Stone who some time ago discovered his child was being taught that beavers are amphibians.
Yep, and in that thread I was like "No way!"

Then I actually contacted the school district in question and asked them about it. And they said "Oops, you're right, we'll correct that in the next edition of the curriculum."

That's the kind of thing that makes me not automatically dismiss stories like that related in my OP above.
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  #26  
Old 08-05-2009, 10:19 PM
astro astro is offline
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The letter is reads as fake from every angle. It's concocted BS. It's way too pat a scenario, and the tone of the writing is borderline absurd re demanding the boy "simply accepting my teachings without resistance." It's stupid fake.

Having said that there is BS in some textbooks . About 8 years ago I was helping my son with a 7th grade science assignment, and happened to notice the textbook (Prentice Hall) claimed that you could see proof of window glass "flowing" over time by looking at very old windows, and seeing they were thicker at the bottom where glass had flowed due to the pull of gravity. The book was not that old, and I believe this canard was disproven for some time even at that point. It was surprising to see how little proof reading by knowledgeable scientists is done on these books.

Who does review these books that would let egregious errors like this slip through?

Last edited by astro; 08-05-2009 at 10:24 PM..
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  #27  
Old 08-05-2009, 10:25 PM
Rick Rick is offline
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I had a middle school English teacher send a note home about my conduct once. My mother (former high school English teacher) got out her red pen and corrected the spelling punctuation, and grammar in the note, wrote one in reply and sent it back. For some reason, that teacher never sent another note home to my mother.
My mom rocked!
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  #28  
Old 08-05-2009, 10:36 PM
Blake Blake is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick View Post
My mother (former high school English teacher) got out her red pen and corrected the spelling punctuation, and grammar in the note, wrote one in reply and sent it back.
...corrected the spelling, punctuation and grammar in the note...


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  #29  
Old 08-05-2009, 10:38 PM
Northern Piper Northern Piper is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tamex View Post
Could have been done on a computer in Courier font, even in 1994. I graduated in '94, and I think that the Macs we played with in high school had smart quotes, too, when using Microsoft Word. (I'm having trouble finding out which version of Word started using smart quotes.)
I think Word Perfect also had smart quotes at that time?
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  #30  
Old 08-05-2009, 10:48 PM
beowulff beowulff is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tamex View Post
Could have been done on a computer in Courier font, even in 1994. I graduated in '94, and I think that the Macs we played with in high school had smart quotes, too, when using Microsoft Word. (I'm having trouble finding out which version of Word started using smart quotes.)
I'm pretty sure MacWrite had "smart quotes" in 1984...
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  #31  
Old 08-05-2009, 11:00 PM
Captain Carrot Captain Carrot is offline
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Originally Posted by astro View Post
Who does review these books that would let egregious errors like this slip through?
The Texas State Board of Education.
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  #32  
Old 08-05-2009, 11:29 PM
Do Not Taunt Do Not Taunt is offline
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Originally Posted by Blake View Post
...corrected the spelling, punctuation and grammar in the note...


...corrected the spelling, punctuation, and grammar in the note...

if you believe in the serial comma, that is (as all right-thinking people do..)
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  #33  
Old 08-06-2009, 12:14 AM
bengangmo bengangmo is offline
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Ha, I once argued with my biology teacher about population growth rates. The population size had decreased - which to me meant the growth rate had to have dropped below the x axis. Never did get her to change her mind on that one.
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  #34  
Old 08-06-2009, 01:04 AM
Oslo Ostragoth Oslo Ostragoth is offline
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At the risk of setting myself up for a Pitting:

When I was in college, the Elementary Education majors were generally morons*. I recall spending twenty minutes trying to explain to an El Ed major how and why the sun always rose in the east.

Without success.

Who knows what they were taught there, or how they were accepted to a major university in the first place?




*I except those Dopers, their relatives, friends and casual acquaintances who do not fit this profile.
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  #35  
Old 08-06-2009, 01:17 AM
ivn1188 ivn1188 is offline
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The best textbook mistake I saw was our marketing textbook. To drive home the moral of the story, to wit, that one should do their research before conducting a marketing campaign in another country due to "lost in translation" errors, the textbook included the well-known story of the Chevy Nova's failure to sell in Latin America.
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  #36  
Old 08-06-2009, 01:48 AM
Zoe Zoe is offline
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From the note:

Quote:
...but your son refused to believe what I told him, offering such rebuttals as, "You're lying to the class," and commanding other students to challenge my curriculum.
It doesn't sound natural for a student to tell other students to challenge a curriculum. That wouldn't be natural jargon for a student. And in this particular situation, it would be a misuse of the word curriculum on the teacher's part.

Teachers can often be challenged on details. They should make the students feel comfortable in challenging and use that as a basis for encouraging a little research. Friendly wagers (not involving money) can make the class more fun.

I say that it's possible but not probable that it's real.
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  #37  
Old 08-06-2009, 03:22 AM
Mosier Mosier is offline
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Everyone has had a bad teacher, just like everyone has been in a badly designed building. Not everyone is a genius, and teachers are no exception.

That said, I think the note is fake.
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  #38  
Old 08-06-2009, 03:38 AM
Cisco Cisco is offline
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Originally Posted by Oslo Ostragoth View Post
At the risk of setting myself up for a Pitting:

When I was in college, the Elementary Education majors were generally morons.
I've had more than one college professor tell me this, unsolicited. And, though my mother-in-law whom I love dearly is an elementary school teacher, I have to generally agree. The ones I've known seem like they're almost scared of learning. Not the kind of personality I want teaching my kids.
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  #39  
Old 08-06-2009, 04:34 AM
SmashTheState SmashTheState is offline
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I remember my 10th grade math teacher, Mrs. Korn, telling everyone in the class that our behaviour was determined by the phases of the moon. As proof she stated that the tides were caused by the Moon, and therefore, since we're mostly water, the Moon affects us as strongly as the oceans are affected by tides. I contradicted her and said that was ridiculous, that if the Moon affected us that way, we'd wake up with half our bodies swollen and bloated and the other half dessicated like an old stick. Or we'd be dragged down the street by the inescapable pull of the Moon, not psychologically altered.

She turned my desk backwards and pushed it to the back of the blassroom, pointing out the window, and forced me to spend the rest of the year sitting that way, refused to answer any of my questions (or acknowledge my existence) and called my parents to tell them I was "disrupting" the class. And of course she flunked me. She told me in advance she was going to flunk me, but I've always been stubborn and anti-authoritarian, so I attended the class religiously and forced her to "run amok" against me, as Thoreau put it:
Wherever a man goes, men will pursue and paw him with their dirty institutions, and, if they can, constrain him to belong to their desperate odd-fellow society. It is true, I might have resisted forcibly with more or less effect, might have run "amok" against society; but I preferred that society should run "amok" against me, it being the desperate party.
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  #40  
Old 08-06-2009, 08:56 AM
ftg ftg is online now
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A typical science textbook is riddled with hundreds of errors. They are sloppily compiled by people with only a folk-science background. Even errors, once corrected and found, are likely to re-appear in future editions due to the writers liking the myth better than the reality.

The typical ElHi teacher's view of instilling respect for authority is to insist that authority is always right. And many kids are smart enough to know teachers aren't always right and so this backfires big time. It's not authority if it's wrong.

I was always correcting teachers in school, which sometimes got me into trouble. It was a big change in college when I found that many (but not all) profs welcomed corrections. Strangely, when I was a prof myself, I never ran into a student that was as nearly as active as me in finding and pointing out errors. I had expected to run across several. Too many students I think were cowed into accepting whatever the teacher said and not thinking for themselves.

E.g., I would notice that an equation that's been on the board for 5 minutes had an error. It should be "n-1" instead of "n+1" in the summation. I would ask why no one had noticed it and would get the "We just assumed that you right regardless of it looking off."
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  #41  
Old 08-06-2009, 09:27 AM
chrisk chrisk is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ftg View Post
The typical ElHi teacher's view of instilling respect for authority is to insist that authority is always right. And many kids are smart enough to know teachers aren't always right and so this backfires big time. It's not authority if it's wrong."
I would tend to say that it's still authority, but the proper way to show respect in this instance is "With respect, I think that's not right, and here's the reason why."

Last edited by chrisk; 08-06-2009 at 09:28 AM..
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  #42  
Old 08-06-2009, 10:05 AM
Malleus, Incus, Stapes! Malleus, Incus, Stapes! is offline
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The note itself is probably fake. But I can believe something like that happening. My brother (who goes to a "special" school) got in trouble for insisting that a) the sun is not in fact the largest star in the solar system, and b) for using the word "teetotaler" instead of "sober".
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  #43  
Old 08-06-2009, 10:17 AM
SuntanTigerTamer SuntanTigerTamer is offline
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Try being in 5th grade at a private Christian school and, while learning about Adam and Eve and whatnot (in History class), asking about cave-men. They do not like that at all...
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  #44  
Old 08-06-2009, 10:22 AM
Shodan Shodan is online now
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Quote:
the sun is not in fact the largest star in the solar system
I hope he meant "the galaxy" or something like that.

Regards,
Shodan
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  #45  
Old 08-06-2009, 10:23 AM
phreesh phreesh is offline
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I don't want to jump on teachers who, in my experience, have been gracious, hard-working, and interested in knowledge. However, the only teacher who I know well has almost zero intellectual curiousity. She only reads magazines and I was unsuccessful in convincing her that, in addition to wasps, bees also have stingers.

Very depressing to think of her teaching children.
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  #46  
Old 08-06-2009, 10:25 AM
zut zut is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Malleus, Incus, Stapes! View Post
The note itself is probably fake. But I can believe something like that happening. My brother (who goes to a "special" school) got in trouble for insisting that a) the sun is not in fact the largest star in the solar system, and b) for using the word "teetotaler" instead of "sober".
a) The sun is, in fact, the largest star in the solar system. It's the only star in the solar system. b) "Teetotaler" is a noun. "Sober" is an adjective or a verb. They are not equivalent. I'm not sure if your bother should have gotten in trouble for insisting the sun isn't the largest star in the solar system and "teetotaler" = "sober," but he should at least have been gently corrected.
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  #47  
Old 08-06-2009, 10:25 AM
MagicXylophone MagicXylophone is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Malleus, Incus, Stapes! View Post
The note itself is probably fake. But I can believe something like that happening. My brother (who goes to a "special" school) got in trouble for insisting that a) the sun is not in fact the largest star in the solar system, and b) for using the word "teetotaler" instead of "sober".
Bolding mine.

How was he right to insist that the sun isn't the biggest star in the solar system?

ETA: What zut said.

Last edited by MagicXylophone; 08-06-2009 at 10:26 AM..
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  #48  
Old 08-06-2009, 10:25 AM
Diogenes the Cynic Diogenes the Cynic is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Malleus, Incus, Stapes! View Post
The note itself is probably fake. But I can believe something like that happening. My brother (who goes to a "special" school) got in trouble for insisting that a) the sun is not in fact the largest star in the solar system, and b) for using the word "teetotaler" instead of "sober".
The sun actually iS the biggest star in the solar system, and oddly enough, it's also the smallest.
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  #49  
Old 08-06-2009, 10:29 AM
astorian astorian is offline
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The note itself is almost certainly a fake, probably an attempt at satire.

I'm sorry, but the people we think are jerks or hypocrites or tyrants are NEVER considerate enough to state explicitly in writing that they're jerks, hypocrites or tyrants. They may say or write things from which we can justly INFER that they are, but that's about it.

Have there been countless REAL incidents that resemble the scenario described in the letter? Sure! Are there countless REAL teachers who believe children should just shut up, do as they're told, and uncritically parrot whatever they're taught? Sure- but none who SAY that explicitly in a letter.
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  #50  
Old 08-06-2009, 10:31 AM
control-z control-z is online now
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I got sent to the office in high school for correcting the computer teacher one too many times. The lady only half knew the material, I couldn't help it. Why teach incorrect facts? I don't remember if she or the office sent a note home, but I don't remember getting in trouble with my parents.

And speaking of incorrect textbooks, the Virginia SOL (standards of learning) test materials have many grammatical errors.
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