Destroying The Scientific Method

, , , , , , , | Learning | August 30, 2019

(I’m visiting my sister and we’re picking her kid up from school. While we’re there, I learn that the students are learning about biology. I’m a microbiology PhD student, and the teacher excitedly tells the students that I’m a scientist. When considering their questions — and my answers — please bear in mind that I’ve studied two classes of bacterial genes for the past three years and just about nothing else.)

Child #1: “Ms. [My Name], if lily pads were blue, would frogs be blue?”

Me: “I, uh, maybe, but frogs spend time with other plants, too, so–”

Child #2: “Ms. [Almost My Name], if I fed a tadpole a little bit of salt every day, could I make a frog that lives in the ocean?”

Me: “Not right away, but if you kept feeding lots of tadpoles a little bit of salt over hundreds of years, maybe!”

Child #3: “Ms. [Definitely Not My Name], what’s ‘serviette’ mean?” 

Me: “Oh, that’s just a fancy word for a napkin.”

Child #1: “Ms. [My Name], when there were dinosaurs, were the frogs really big?”

Me: “Well, they wouldn’t be frogs, but they might be ancestors of frogs that–”

Child #3: “So, why did they used call Russia the serviette union?”

Me: “–ancestors of frogs… that… They used to call it the Soviet Union. ‘Soviet’ is a Russian word for… farmer, I think.”

(It’s not. But I couldn’t remember what it did mean, because…)

Child #2: “Only I have a bucket of tadpoles, and I gave then a little salt, and they’re all okay, except the ones Henry ate.”

Me: “Henry… ate..?”

Child #2: “Like this!” *baring her teeth* “Raar raar raar!”

Children #1 and #3: “Raar raar!”

(A bell rings, and they disappear. I go talk to the teacher.)

Me: “So… biology. Lot about frogs, I guess?”

Teacher: “Oh, no. We’ve been talking about trees. But I brought a frog to class and it jumped onto a student’s head, and they still haven’t stopped trying to make it happen again.”

Me: “Also, this might be important. Who’s Henry?”

(The teacher points to a small boy who’s hitting a pencil with another pencil.)

Teacher: “Oh, also, that’s the name of the principals’ cat. Why do you ask?”

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Another Day In The Hogwarts Janitorial Department

, , , , , | Learning | August 29, 2019

(I am a resident assistant in a building that was constructed on the site of an orphanage that burned down during WWI. Unexplainable incidents are not unusual, but this is one of the stranger ones.)

Student: “So, uh… A cross just fell off my wall and flew across the room.”

Me: “Put in a work order?”

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The Star Pupil

, , , , , , | Learning | August 29, 2019

(I’ve gotten the results back from a quiz in my geography class. I notice an answer marked wrong, and I am convinced I answered correctly. In my righteous indignation, I grab two different encyclopedia volumes and do research to back me up before confronting the teacher. As I’m winding up for my big conclusion with him…)

Me: “I went and looked this up — twice! — and both sources said the same thing: at 4.2 light-years away, Proxima Centauri is the closest star to the Earth, except for the–”

(I’ve added the last part by simple rote, but I realize that it’s entirely correct and has completely undermined my argument; the question asked for the closest star to Earth. The teacher simply gives me a calm, patient smile, nodding.)

Me: “…I’ll just go sit down now.”

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School Can’t Prepare You For This Kind Of Life

, , , , | Learning | August 28, 2019

(I work at an elementary school. I am talking to one of my students at recess and the conversation turns to the local hockey team.)

Student: “My grandma’s boyfriend used to play for [Local Hockey Team].” 

Me: “Really? That’s so cool!”

Student: “Yeah, except now he plays for [Different Team]. Well, he’s not really her boyfriend. They’re dating, but they’re not official. They’re waiting until he leaves his wife. He doesn’t want to divorce her yet because they have two daughters and he wants to wait until they’re eighteen. If he breaks up with her now then she’ll go crazy and blame it on him. So they’re not official yet.”

Me: “Um… That’s nice.”

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You Can’t Teach A New Dog Old Tricks

, , , , | Learning | August 28, 2019

(I’m thirteen. I get home from school, dump my book-bag on the hallway floor under the coat rack — as usual and like my dad has told me at least a dozen times not to — have a snack, and leave again for a friend’s house. Dad’s out running errands. When I get back for dinner, Dad tells me that, when he came home from his errands, he found that I hadn’t closed the door between the living room and the hallway properly, so our dog got into the hallway. Apparently, the dog decided the contents of my book-bag would make for good toys, specifically my French homework. It is almost completely destroyed. There are some shreds left, but I obviously can’t work with it anymore. Dad is laughing. I am halfway between annoyance and laughter until Dad pulls me over the edge by saying that tomorrow, I’ll have to tell the teacher my dog ate my homework. Realizing the stereotypical comedy excuse has come true for once is pretty funny. The next day, I bring the shredded remains of my homework to school, because no way is anyone going to believe me without proof. I’m also determined to have as much fun with this as I can, especially since my French teacher is an old sourpuss that nobody likes. When she goes around collecting the homework, I deliberately don’t have anything on my table and wait for her to ask me the inevitable.)

Teacher: “[My Name], where’s your homework?”

Me: *suppressing a grin* “Well, ma’am, you’re probably not going to believe me, but my dog ate my homework.”

Teacher: *looking decidedly not amused* “You’re right; I don’t believe you.”

(I pull the shredded remains of my homework out of my bag to show her.)

Me: “How about now?”

(The class starts sniggering, and the teacher looks at me like I just grew an extra head or something.)

Teacher: “Well… I suppose I’ll let it slide this time.” *sour again* “But I expect you to take better care of your homework in the future, [My Name].”

Me: “Of course, ma’am.”

(I did, by the way. I finally stopped dumping my bag on the hallway floor, to my dad’s delight. He joked afterward that maybe he should let the dog into my bedroom, so maybe I’d finally learn to clear that disaster zone, as well. I decided not to risk it.)

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