A Likely Story, Teach

, , , , , | Learning | April 22, 2019

(I’m in the fifth grade. I turn in a math assignment. A week later, I get it back, torn up. This is what is written on it, paraphrased.)

Teacher: “You did a good job. My dog thought so, too.”

(That was the first time I’ve ever heard about a teacher’s dog eating homework!)

The Score Is Not As High As A Kite

, , , , , , , , | Learning | April 5, 2019

In high school, in a freshman geometry class, we were given a weekend assignment to build a tetrahedral kite. We were instructed to gather our own supplies and we had a day of class time to build the kite itself. The instructions went into some detail about building a kite out of popsicle sticks, glue, and tissue paper.

Having been interested in kites and model building for a while, I promptly decided the instructions were basically useless. Entirely on my own, I came up with a design for the tetrahedral kite in the same dimensions that the instructions called for.

I used cut-to-length fast food drink straws as the structural members, tied into tetrahedrons with fishing line. Each straw had fishing line strung through it, and then fishing line was strung along the straws on the outside instead of inside, and the tension was then set by tying the strings loose but then drawing them to the center with a fishing line knot. It worked marvelously. I then very carefully glued squares of garbage bag to the straws with superglue. I tried plastic glue first, but superglue worked better. I ruined a few tetrahedrons before figuring out how to properly set good tension on the square of garbage bag — by taping the bag to a stick, I could draw it flat and tight on my tetrahedron while the glue set — and then cut with an Exacto knife to trim back once the glue was done.

A final round of stringing together was done with fishing line, and then more fishing line was used to make an anchor for the kite string.

I proudly brought my kite into school on kite flying day. Some students called my kite ugly. We went to fly our kites. The second best kite was owned by one of the girls, and she was flying it about as high as the flagpole. My kite was flying over the roof of the gymnasium. I wanted to see about going higher and or longer, but I ran out of kite string.

I was given a C — 75%. Teacher’s note said, “Did not follow directions.”

Harriet Tubman Got Up To A Lot More Than You Realize

, , , , , | Learning | December 29, 2018

(I’m a teacher. My sophomore students are writing cause/effect essays about incidents of civil disobedience. The following are comments I’ve had to make on various rough drafts.)

Me, in response to Student #1: “I’m afraid Susan B. Anthony did not vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016, because Anthony had been dead for over a century.”

Me, in response to Student #2: “Even though President and Mrs. Obama don’t live in the White House anymore, that doesn’t mean they are dead.”

Me, in response to Student #3: “While slaves were abused in horrific ways, they were not sprayed from above with chemicals, because airplanes didn’t exist before or during the Civil War.”

Student #3: “Harriet Tubman ended slavery because she caused global warming, starting back in the ninth century with the fall of the Roman Empire…”

Me: “I don’t even know where to begin… Just… No.”

Dogs Actually Do That?

, , , , , , , | Learning | November 24, 2018

In the UK, mandatory schooling finishes after the completion of GCSE exams, which are taken after two years of study. When my brother was picking his options for the GCSEs, my family had adopted a puppy from a specialist rescue charity for a particular breed of dog.

This puppy was teething when he came to our family. One day, my brother left his options paperwork on the dining table, and the dog got a hold of it. We came into the dining room one day to find it had been used as a chew toy; the largest part left had distinct bite marks, and paper was everywhere.

My mother told my brother to fetch his homework diary so she could write a note to the school to say that the dog chewed it and he needed a new one. Feeling silly I told my brother, “At least it wasn’t your homework.”

He didn’t get it until our mother told him that the dog eating your homework was the oldest excuse in the book.

Student Failed Assignment For Not Knowing The Dictionary Definition Of A Dictionary Definition

, , , , , | Learning | November 9, 2018

(English has never been my best subject, since I’m a very literal person and assignments often require us to recognize and understand foreshadowing, symbolism, dramatic irony, and so on. However, I do have a large vocabulary, so when our homework one day is to define a list of words, I complete it before class ends. Much to my shock, when the sheets are handed back, all of them are marked wrong. Despite being generally timid — and even cowardly — overall, I can’t accept this, and confront my teacher.)

Me: “Why did you mark all of these wrong?”

Teacher: “Because they are all wrong.”

Me: *offended* “I know what all these words mean! Everything I wrote down is right!

Teacher: “Yes, but the assignment was to look them up, to show that you know how to use a dictionary.”

Me: “It didn’t say that, though. It just said to define them, and I did.”

Teacher: “You should have known.”

Me: “How?!”


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