Stupidest thing one of your teachers ever said or did?

Back when I was 11 or 12 or so, I had a teacher who lectured us on the habits of the Jyla monster of the deserts of the American Southwest.

One day this same teacher had us read a poem on sand in English class. The author of the poem starts by talking about all the possible indications that summer is coming, and then states that the real sign of summer for her is sand. She then goes on to talk about how horrible sand is, because it gets into her clothes and all the nooks and crannies of her house and is impossible to clean out. Bear in mind, all the signs that summer is coming are bad- “Not by the cry of the whippoorwill/Nor by the prickling of my thumbs/But by sand.” Now, I was only a kid, but I had read enough Bradbury to know that the whippoorwill is a portent of doom (for Pete’s sake, the bird is a member of the goatsucker family! La Chupacabra!) and I for darn sure knew “By the prickling of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.” I told my teacher that the poem contained an allusion to Shakespeare, and she rolled her eyes exaggeratedly and pedantically told me that prickling of the thumbs was obviously a good thing, and she listed a number of explanations for why this would be the case (the poet was pruning roses, for example.) And the whippoorwill? She likes seeing the beautiful whippoorwills at the beach, and hearing their beautiful song. The truly frightening thing about this is that she was reading straight out of the teacher’s manual, which put an aggressively positive spin on all the non-sand signs of summer. Sunburn? She loves lying out in the sun. Oppressive heat? Nothing like a glass of lemonade on a hot day. At least they figured out that the sand was a bad thing!

-Ben

The worst thing a teacher ever did to me? In third grade my teacher told me, in front of the whole class, that I was stupid when I failed to get a long division problem right on the blackboard.

Marc

Cruel, yes, but stupid?

You know, I forgot to mention the world history teacher who told us that the Philosopher’s Stone was just some magic rock that turned lead into gold, and that all the alchemists were after it because they wanted to get rich. Not stupid, really (most people don’t know that the PS wasn’t necessarily a rock, and that it was connected to ideas of spiritual growth and the cure for all diseases) but silly nonetheless, especially since he went on about how alchemy was anti-Christian because it was motivated purely by greed. His discussion of Gnosticism was on the same level- his sources were basically all early anti-Gnostic propaganda, so he taught us that Gnosticism was all about buying the secret password that would let you into heaven.

-Ben

I once had a teacher who taught us that if the South had won the civil war, Hitler would have won world war II.

'nuff said

My high school English teacher once insisted that humans were not mammals. Even when we explained it to her she insisted that we were a different species.

She thought that when started referreing to her as “M’am” it was a sign of respect. Mam was just short for mammal.

One of my teachers said “If you don’t stop messing about, I’ll … get upset.”

(Short pause by class of delinquents) - we’d like to see that - let’s carry on messing about!

Fast forward 30 years to me as teacher:
“If you don’t stop messing about, I’ll give you an essay.”
No problem!

I had a very clueless 5th grade teacher. Lazy too, she used to send kids to go get her coffee for her. I taught her math class when I was in 6th grade and taking pre-algebra at the junior high, I adored it but now that I look back on it, she was a sorry excuse for a teacher. The event that really sticks out is the day I got sick. I’ve always been the sickliest kid in my family, prone to fevers, infections, colds, and all sorts of other nasty bugs. Now when I get fevers it’s not some silly 101 degrees I feel warm fever, it’s a 103-104 my body’s so hot I’m freezing type fever. I still get them. I went up to the teacher after being miserable for a while and I asked if I could go to the nurse. She told me to go put my head down on my desk. Fastforward fifteen minutes later, I go up to her desk again flushed and miserable-looking, she sends me to my seat again. that happened about 3 or 4 times before she got sick of me and sent me to the nurse. The nurse took one look at him, stuck a thermometer in my mouth and then sent me home. My parents saw me, called the doctor, told him my temperature and the doctor told them to take me to the ER if I got any worse. Luckily I didn’t and I just saw the doctor the nextt morning for meds. Stupid teacher.

Kitty

My fourth grade teacher was drawing a bunch of stuff on the board for thanksgiving (pilgrims and corn and such).

She gave it four legs.

We reminded her that turkeys only have two legs, but she INSISTED they had four.

Five minutes later, in the middle of reading something, she blurted out “OHHH!” and erased two of the legs.

:smiley:

One of my favorite teachers at art school (he still teaches there, BTW) was quite open about his illicit drug use. Now, I am strongly anti-drug, but also strongly opposed to turning anyone in for it unless they are being a danger. So he was safe with me in the class. But still - it’s pretty stupid to go on AND ON about which drug is good for which mood you’re in, etc. When you really don’t know the backgrounds of your students, their personal philosophy about drugs, etc., you could easily get a straight-laced student who will tattle on you. Stupid stupid stupid.

The climax to his stupidity was when he invited the whole class on a “field trip” to his art studio. With the whole class congregated in his studio, he offered all his students pot. I declined while most of my fellow students smoked away. But, as always, I kept my mouth shut. On the way back from the “field trip”, another student and I got a ride with this teacher. He was still rattling on about drugs - which was good for this, when to take it, etc. I finally had enough, and merely said, “I can’t believe you’re talking about this”. And finally the teacher got the hint. He said “Never mind. Never mind what I said, I was kidding about all of it.” And that was it. I don’t recall him getting onto pharmacutical tangents during class again.

He WAS a favorite teacher, and I never would have told the college about his discussions of drugs. But I was frankly worried that his days at that school would be numbered if he didn’t SHUT UP about it! Apparently it’s worked out, because he’s still there.

My third grade teacher told me that “girls aren’t supposed to be good at math and science.”

I always use that as an excuse when I don’t do well on math tests.

My senior high school English teacher once told us that the word “transitory” meant “permanent and long-lasting”, because its root was the word “transcendental”. I tried to disagree and in a very condescending way he basically told me to shut up because he was right and I was wrong, because he was the English teacher.

OK, let’s break this down step by step, shall we?

First of all, the root of a word is typically SHORTER than the actual word. Second, any idiot knows that “transcendental” is not the root of “transitory”. Third, how can a high school English teacher not know the meaning of the word “transitory” in the first place? It’s not like it’s a word you never run across in everyday speech. Maybe a little uncommon, but not THAT much. And fourth, why the hell would he make up the definition to a word when he didn’t know it? Would it be so hard to pick up a dictionary and leaf through it?

The next day before class I brought in my paperback dictionary from home and left it open on his desk to the page that had “transitory” on it, with “transitory” highlighted. He looked at it but didn’t say a word. Jerk.

U.S. History, 1945-Present Teacher: …Roosevelt had just died and the new president was…um…
Me: Truman.
Teacher: Truman. Thanks.

(I won’t even get started on my ninth-grade World History teacher, a nun who only taught “positive contributions to the development of civilization.” She thought the development of secular humanism was the worst thing that had ever happened…)

Seventh grade math was a nightmare for me. The first day of class the teacher announced that all rumors about her being mean and hard on anyone who couldn’t “cut the mustard” were true. Said she didn’t care what we told her parents because she had a good teaching record blah blah blah. That we would be told how to do the math one time, have five minutes for questions and then be expected to get the answers. PERIOD.

To make things worse we had a young math wizz in the class and if anyone made a mistake working a problem on the board this teacher would call this smarty pants teachers pet to the front of the room and read off a long list of numbers for him to add, subtract, multiply, and divide in his head. He always got the answer right too. Then she’d say now if Jacob can stand here and do that in his head without using paper or pencil then why couldn’t you see that you should have…

I spent the entire year a nervous wreck. Now and then I sit and fantasize about just how I would have liked to get her alone in the cloak room. Just me, her, and a front fork from a Harley I keep next to the door for protection. Old Bitch is what she was.

My social studies teacher in 10th grade gave an essay of mine (initially) an F. Because he was certain it was plagiarized because it was “so well written” and used vocabulary that surely no 15 year old would know. Like “psyche”. People gave me a wide berth the rest of the day, and I would have welcomed any excuse to get into a fight. My folks were more stunned than angry, but I told them let me handle this first.

I went back to the library, located the couple books used as sources, stalked into his office the following morning, slammed them onto his desk, and demanded he locate any single portion that was lifted from them, and he’d better find them fast, as he stared at me with a sort of deer-in-headlights glazed look of “oh shit.”

The grade was changed, he stammered some apology I paid zero attention to, and all in all I’m pretty sure he felt stupid.

This one actually came from a substitute teacher I had once in the fourth grade. She was calling the roll; I’ll use phonetic spelling here.

“Steffen? Steffen Hunter?”

“STEVEN Hunter. Here.”

"No, it’s spelled “S-T-E-P-H-E-N. That’s Steffen, not Steven.”

(Right. A fourth grader doesn’t know how to pronounce his own name. He really ought to go correct those idiot parents of his who have obviously been deluded the past 9 years.)

Fourth grade also brought me one of the most insensitive teacher moments I ever experienced. Our regular teacher was calling the roll the roll this time. She got to my name, and then said “Oh, was that your sister that died this weekend?” Yes, it was. Thanks for your compassion in asking me in front of the entire class, bitch.

Drastic: A similar thing happened to a friend of mine in 9th grade Health and PE. We had to do an anti-drug poster. She was a very gifted poet, and had written a poem about someone throwing away his life on drugs. The teacher flunked her because OBVIOUSLY she couldn’t have written that herself.

I don’t know if this would be classified as “stupid” or simply “frustrating,” but the fact that it was committed by my favorite English teacher in 8th grade made it worse.

This teacher was always coming up with cool stuff to do in class, and usually I loved all her ideas. This time there was a play based on the movie “Captains Courageous,” which was going to be on TV shortly, in one of those magazines they used to give out to school kids (I think it was called “Read.”)

Anyway, I was one of the best readers in the class, especially out loud. I made an effort to put some emotion into the part instead of just reading it in a leaden monotone like most of the kids. The teacher took volunteers to read the various parts, and I volunteered for one of the larger ones. Her reply? “No, you can’t play that part. That’s a boy’s part. Only boys can play boys’ parts.”

Problem: ALL the parts in the play were boys’ parts. I’m not a boy.

So all the girls in the class (which, at the time, included a large percentage of the good readers) had to sit on the sidelines and listen to a cool play that they couldn’t be part of because they were girls.

That was around 23 years ago and I still remember it–it was the only example of her stupidity. I think she must have been possessed by aliens that day, because the rest of the time she was a fantastic teacher.

(This’un’s long, kids.)

The stupidest thing I ever got from a teacher was in 5th grade.

I was one of the top students in the class, and in fact I was one of those bland “teacher’s pet” types. My 5th grade teacher was one of those idiots who felt that discipline was much, much more important than any actual learning, because the most important thing of all was for her not to have to exert herself. I say this now, but I hardly realized it at the time.

So: one day, she announces that she’s going to be gone for a day (I can’t recall why), and that we will have a substitute. She then shows us a sheet of paper and explains that she’s going to ask the sub to record the names of anyone who “makes trouble”, and that they’ll be punished when she comes back, by having to copy out a sentence 500 times.

Now, when the sub comes in, the first thing he says is that we are not to talk. At all. All day. He then hands out a bunch of worksheets and tells us to get to doing them. (Classroom discussion? What’s that?) We break fo lunch, and he specifically tells people that there will be no talking there, either (idiot :mad: ). Nonetheless, while we’re sitting down for lunch, a friend of mine says “Hi” to me, and I respond to him withanother “Hi”, which, anywhere but in my fifth grade class, is the polite, decent, correct thing to do. The sub hears it; my name goes on the list, although he never informs anyone that he’s putting them on there, let alone why.

Now, as soon as our regular teacher gets back, she makes a big point of announcing everyone who went on the list. I’s more than half the class, which is a sure sign that discipline was not the problem. I’m on the list; I’m expected to accept wrist-cramping punishment for the crime of responding politely to a friend’s greeting.

For the first time in my life, my moral sense starts grinding away, calculating what’s going on here. I was pretty much a drone back then, so I almost couldn’t fathom any course except blind obedience.

“But wait,” said my brain. “If punishments are intended for people who act badly, and you haven’t acted at all badly, then the punishment is wrong.” I was 10, and I honestly hadn’t considered that before. I ended up simply not doing anything. I never wrote it out, never submitted it, and never brought attention to the fact that I hadn’t completed my assigned punishment.

Fast forward four months, and it’s almost the end of the school year. Next year, I’m not just out of this stupid teacher’s class, I’m out of that school entirely. Except…
My teacher calls to talk to her after class. She tells me that she knows I never completed my “writing exercise” from four months ago. Despite the fact that I’m passing by a very large margin, she tells me that if I don’t complete the punishment, she’ll fail me for the year, and I’ll have to repeat. When I get pissed, she arranges a meeting between my mother, herself, and the principal, and the principal essentially backs her up! Mom comes home and tells me that I had better go ahead and do it.

When I do, my stupid, stupid fifth grade teacher tells me she’s rejecting about half of my copied sentences for "bad penmanship. I have to copy them over.

believe it or not, I’m somewhat grateful to my fifth grade teacher. She taught me, through direct experience and philosophical deduction (and at 10 years old!) that arbitrary authority is a horrible thing. I’ve kept that lesson ever since.

Plus, I have deliberately horrible penmanship :stuck_out_tongue:

My fourth grade science teacher was nothing short of a miracle. On a daily basis, she’d blurt out some idiocy or the other that was patently wrong, even to a bunch of ten-year-olds in a very small town in eastern Arkansas.

The ones that have stayed with me for 25+ years include:
[list]
[li]Her insistence that everyone in the class pronounce the word “characteristics” as she did, which was “cass-ter-ist-iss”; she actually hectored kids who tried to pronounce it correctly. She had similar feelings about “capillaries” and several other scientific terms.[/li][li]One day at the beginning of class, she began by asking a student to define “model”. He replied with a fumbling defintion that nonetheless would probably have been accepted by most teachers. Not her. She went to the next kid, then the next, then the next, and once she got to the last she started all over again. She got plenty of answers that couldn’t have been improved on by Noah Webster or Samuel Johnson, but she dismissed them all and plowed on ahead. The better part of the entire hour was taken up with her attempts to get someone to utter the exact phrase she had in mind, which was “something that stands for something else” (which was far from the best definition anyone offered during that time).[/li][list]

Otherwise, I was pretty fortunate in not having many blithering idiots for teachers. A few of them pissed me off, but not from stupidity. Though there was my ninth-grade science teacher, a fairly attractive, youngish woman who did far too little to discourage the sexual innuendo that flies in any room full of hormonal early adolescents. One day she was late for school, and explained that she’d been in a car accident on the way. Little damage, nobody hurt. She went to explain that she’d been hit by a man who, instead of watching where he was going, had been looking down at something in his lap. We made the most of it the rest of the day.

Well how’s not teaching part of the curriculum and then getting your ass fired? My Latin II teacher did that last year, damn bastard. It was the last couple of chapters in the book, which our this year Latin III teacher had to do. Last year’s teacher had no clue what he was doing- I don’t have any one shocking story like you guys, but he could not teach for a damn.

The Steffen/Stephen one is impressively stupifyingly…well, stupid on the part of that sub.

I can’t pick just one…

Sophmore year of high school I went home and cried because I was getting the teacher I had for pre-alegbra for alegbra. I’d asked him at the end of the year if he taught alegbra, and he said no. I tried, with my mother’s help, to get into another class, but wasn’t allowed to.

Anyway, this teacher had the novel idea that he wasn’t going to use the book that year. There were books, but he didn’t want to use them. So instead he handed out worksheets with problems on it every day.

This is how the class worked: for the first five minutes he’d tell people to shut up and pay attention. Then we’d go over the homework, and people would ask about the problems we were correcting. Since every problem was asked about, this would take about 40 minutes. Then, the last 5-10 minutes he would “teach” us what was going to be on the homework that night and hand it out.

What takes the cake is when one of the boys asked if we could slow down, since no one understood. He said " It’s too bad that there are people who are struggling, but it wouldn’t be fair to the better students if we took more time to go over things." @#$% you, Mr -----.

However, my Alegbra 2 teacher told those of us who had him not to feel bad if we didn’t do well, since we “were taught absolutely nothing we need to know to be prepared for this class” by him.


Junior year of high school I took a class in children’s lit. One of our assignments was to write a fairytale (not one of the ones mentioned in the pit!) So I wrote one about a little boy.

For some stupid reason or other, we were required that semester to “confence” with another English teacher about our writing. To my great displeasure, I had to conference with a teacher whose classes I never signed up for, because I, along with most of the other students, thought was an idiot.

The confence is going ok, considering the teacher, until she says " Shannon, the cat talks. You can’t have a story with a talking animal without explaining * exactly * why the animal in question can talk."

I’m sorry, I guess I skimmed over the detailed explainations for why the animals in every other fairytale I’ve ever read could talk!


I took an intro to psych class freshman year of college. During one class my “professor” (actually a grad student) feels the need to point out that most of the people in the class are about 18 years old. Then, about 15 minutes later, she starts to talk about Jonestown, which she said happened in 78’. She ends her talk by asking us how well we remember it. Oh, I don’t know, how well do you think we remember something that happened 17 years earlier, when you already pointed out we are all 18? You do the math, lady.