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The Project Fell Down A Black Hole

, , , | Learning | April 12, 2018

(Due to a diagnosis of a math disability, I am held back in math classes throughout school. Because of math prerequisites, I’m only able to take the “soft” science classes in high school. One of these is astronomy. You would not expect this to be an easy, math-light class, but it is the way this teacher teaches it.)

Teacher: *at the beginning of the year* “There’s going to be a big project you design yourself, which will account for half of your grade. You need to work up a project proposal and have me approve it. Some work time will be given during class, but also expect to be working on this project outside of class, independently. There are certain requirements the project needs to meet, but I’ll outline those at a later date.”

(He gives us research time in the library, and I write up a proposal for a big research paper on black holes and get his signed approval. Throughout the semester, he gives us research time and study periods, but does not give us the mysterious requirements the project needs to meet, despite my pestering him repeatedly. After borrowing a friend’s physics textbook and reading up texts our own library doesn’t provide, I write a very long and intensive report that I finish within a few weeks of the end of the semester. It’s a thick research paper, and it includes my own illustrations of physics principles, with detailed explanations of math I supposedly should not be able to deal with. The work is entirely my own. Nervous that it will not meet the arbitrary guidelines the teacher never gave, I approach him with my half-inch thick paper in hand.)

Me: “We’re almost at the deadline, and I finished my project, but I wanted to make sure it fit the requirements. Did I miss where you gave those?”

Teacher: “Oh. Well. Since I never really got around to it, and we didn’t talk in class about the project, I just kind of decided to drop it, so you guys don’t need to do that.”

Me: “But you said it was worth half our grade! I spent all semester working on this!”

Teacher: “That’s… You really didn’t need to…”

Me: “You will accept this research project for some kind of grade.”

(I glared at him, and with barely 100 pounds of fury, I pushed the thick paper at him. He meekly accepted it. He took it as extra credit, and I got an A+ in the class, but to this day I’m not sure he actually read it. These kinds of incidents killed my faith in the American education system.)

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