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View Full Version : Theres an elephant in the way



Rappa
03-01-2007, 08:45 PM
im sorry lol, this made me laugh uncontrolably and i thought you guys may get a kick out of it also:
(actuall exam answer btw)

http://img164.imageshack.us/img164/4927/elephantrj9.jpg

Roelf
03-01-2007, 09:24 PM
When i was a physics teacher, there was a girl who desperately needed some points to get to the next year in school. She wasn't taking physics anymore but she needed some grade to pass the year. I made a test for her. She tried to make it, but she couldn't give any answer. Instead of answering the questions, she wrote down the recipe for a chocolate cake (a rather good one too). I gave her the grade she needed. She went on with the next year and is studying now (very succesfull). We were both happy, she could move on in school and i did not have to try to teach her physics another year. Some students will never get it, even after trying for another year. So i decided to do that.

Armondo
03-01-2007, 11:56 PM
lol your good a physics.

daniel_g
03-02-2007, 11:58 PM
hmmm wonder why the teacher took the time to underline the word elephant

phoenixshade
03-09-2007, 12:45 AM
When i was a physics teacher, there was a girl who desperately needed some points to get to the next year in school. She wasn't taking physics anymore but she needed some grade to pass the year. I made a test for her. She tried to make it, but she couldn't give any answer. Instead of answering the questions, she wrote down the recipe for a chocolate cake (a rather good one too). I gave her the grade she needed. She went on with the next year and is studying now (very succesfull). We were both happy, she could move on in school and i did not have to try to teach her physics another year. Some students will never get it, even after trying for another year. So i decided to do that.
WTF??? That seems to me to be slightly unethical. Makes me wonder if "chocolate cake" is a euphamism for something ... else. And if that's why she's still "successful."

VIPStephan
03-09-2007, 01:15 AM
Why is that unethical? Does it hurt anybody? OK, it's not usual practice (and shouldn't be) but unethical?
What's the point of restraining someone's potential career in a business where this knowledge will be absolutely not needed just because of a physics test? I mean OK, not everybody should get spoon-fed but if you, as teacher, know that a student has real potential somewhere else and would be better off by achieving class goal instead of repeating another year just because physics ain't her forte then for me such an exception (and that should still be an exception) is certainly justifiable.

_Aerospace_Eng_
03-09-2007, 01:18 AM
BTW the student in the above image was close to the answer all they had to do was solve for x. With no friction mechanical energy is conserved.

phoenixshade
03-09-2007, 01:28 AM
Why is that unethical? Does it hurt anybody? OK, it's not usual practice (and shouldn't be) but unethical?
What's the point of restraining someone's potential career in a business where this knowledge will be absolutely not needed just because of a physics test? I mean OK, not everybody should get spoon-fed but if you, as teacher, know that a student has real potential somewhere else and would be better off by achieving class goal instead of repeating another year just because physics ain't her forte then for me such an exception (and that should still be an exception) is certainly justifiable.
If it "ain't her forte" then she should be encouraged to find what is her forte (perhaps culinary arts?), not just passed on because she has potential somewhere else. Stuff like this is why you have no guarantee that someone actually has an aptitude just because they hold a degree, and the American educational system produces lots of these graduates.

Roelf
03-09-2007, 09:02 AM
WTF??? That seems to me to be slightly unethical. Makes me wonder if "chocolate cake" is a euphamism for something ... else. And if that's why she's still "successful."

No, chocolate cake was not a euphemism for something else. A colleague had the offer of sending all the other students away, lock the classroom door and then he was allowed to do everything he wished to do with a (female) student (these were her own words, literally), in exchange for a better grade. But this was different.
This girl did not get a grip on physics, she was doing fine in other classes, she would drop the physics in her next year. So she should never be bothered with physics again, probably in her whole life. Taking the class another year would not improve her skills (my professional understanding), but would probably remove her motivation for all other classes she would have to take again for another year, which might lead to a decrease in performance. So i decided it was in everyones best interest to let her pass, move on with her education without physics and live happily ever after.

I did that sort of thing twice in my career as a teacher. I have absolutely no regret about it at all, i still think i was a good teacher, even with these events happening.

KevinG
03-09-2007, 04:10 PM
i'd have thought taking a cookery class would have been more appropiate for her. still, i think it was a decent thing to do (as long as your not a 400Ib cake eating behemouth!).

chocolate anything usually paves the way for me at home.

jkd
03-09-2007, 07:15 PM
If it "ain't her forte" then she should be encouraged to find what is her forte (perhaps culinary arts?), not just passed on because she has potential somewhere else. Stuff like this is why you have no guarantee that someone actually has an aptitude just because they hold a degree, and the American educational system produces lots of these graduates.

I would suggest working in a school before criticizing Roelf's techniques. Being a student means nothing, despite whatever you think your apprenticeship of observation brought you. In the very least, read some research and lose the assumption that your prototypical, ideal classroom experience is not actually the best thing for the students, as an ideal classroom requires ideal students, which you will never have. (What has been demonstrably good and bad can be surprising at times, and unlikely to be implemented in any public school.)

Roelf
03-12-2007, 08:53 AM
i'd have thought taking a cookery class would have been more appropiate for her. still, i think it was a decent thing to do (as long as your not a 400Ib cake eating behemouth!).

chocolate anything usually paves the way for me at home.

Yeah, but unfortunately, physics is mandatory in 2nd and 3rd grade in the dutch educational system, so taking another class instead of physics was not an option.

phoenixshade
03-12-2007, 11:49 AM
I would suggest working in a school before criticizing Roelf's techniques. Being a student means nothing, despite whatever you think your apprenticeship of observation brought you. In the very least, read some research and lose the assumption that your prototypical, ideal classroom experience is not actually the best thing for the students, as an ideal classroom requires ideal students, which you will never have. (What has been demonstrably good and bad can be surprising at times, and unlikely to be implemented in any public school.)
??

Try English next tme, and maybe some concrete examples. And you can leave your presumptions at the door, please:

Presumption #1: that I've never worked in a school. False. As a matter of fact, I have taught several classes as an adjunct at a local community college. I'm all in favor of alternative teaching methods, but I'm not in favor of passing students on anything other than demonstrable acquisition of the curriculum. In my experience, there are almost no students who can't be taught something that they really want to learn. And if they don't really want it, why give it to them for nothing?

Presumption #2: that your personal return from your "apprenticeship of observation" has any bearing whatsoever on anyone else's. If a student has any passion at all for what they're studying, the return can be great. It was for me. If you aren't experiencing that, I'd have to assume that you're studying something that gives you no joy. Perhaps you should change majors.

Presumption #3: that there is such a thing as a "prototypical" classroom situation. Mainstream teaching methods almost always rely on several methods in combination, such as lecture, demonstration, case study, simulation, discussion, group work, and individual instruction. Far too many teachers rely heavily on the first three (the lazy way). Since the students are involved only passively, the teacher needs to make the fewest adjustments and least preparation. On the other hand, a few teachers rely too much on the last three in which students participate actively, but factual information is harder to convey. A good balance between the two is needed to teach effectively.

Some examples of techniques that are "demonstrably good and bad" (especially the surprising ones) might have supported your argument. As it stands now, it's one presumption after another.

Aradon
03-12-2007, 10:43 PM
Ha, I sent this picture to all my CS friends.

jkd
03-13-2007, 02:21 AM
I'm sorry for being argumentative, education is something I am passionate about and something far too many people get wrong, but I want to tackle the first two of my so-called presumptions:

1. Working at a community college is not working in a high school; there is a drastic difference in student mindset when they want to be there versus forced to go there via compulsory attendance laws. Being a professor is a completely different experience than being a teacher.

2. "Apprenticeship of Observation" is the idea that being a student for 12 years+ implies an intimate knowledge of the teaching profession. Politicians and people who have no actual clue about education implicitly assume apprenticeship of observation and use it to pass harmful educational policies.

To touch on 3, it's well known that what works for one group can be detrimental for another. A quick example, authoritarian structures in Asian schools and families (which produce some of the world's best math students), compared to authoritarian structures in American schools (which statistically serve the African-American population very well, but are detrimental to European-American students, who do better with authoritative structures). I admit it is unrelated specifically to passing a student along, but it was probably the quickest example I could come up with.

If a student honestly tries their best (really puts in the effort), and are still unable to do well, the need to punish (e.g. fail) isn't clear to me. There is also credence to the idea that grades create stress which detrimentally affect academic achievement (as it shifts priorities from learning to what Margaret Metzger called "playing school"), so the very concept of passing/failing may not even be important in the grand scheme of things.

Pomegrenade
03-13-2007, 06:08 AM
Hello. Forgive my intrusion, but I was searching for the funny "elephant in the way" picture when I stumbled on this topic. I signed up on the forum to post this reply. While I think all of you make valid points about the student in the question, as a high school student currently taking physics, I have some strong opinions on the matter.

Because of my personal experience, I don't feel comfortable with the idea of teachers passing students even if the student did not put in the work. Personally, mathematical logic does not come easily to me and physics is definitely not my forte. I have no plan on pursuing physics and I do not see how it can be useful to me at all in any of my future career plans. However, because I am taking the course in high school, I have pushed myself extremely hard to do decently at the subject.

At the beginning of this year, I was very much like the girl in your story--almost failing physics. I scored D's and F's on a string of tests because I could not understand the logic of the problems. I studied for the tests as much as I studied for other science tests in the past, but physics was just a whole other level of thinking for me. I was highly distressed by the grades I was getting because I had never scored this low on any tests in my life. Meanwhile, all my classmates excelled. However, I agreed with phoenixshade's statement that "there are almost no students who can't be taught something that they really want to learn." I thought I could still do okay if I really wanted to to. I reminded myself of the equation "speed x time = distance." Even if I wasn't speedy at physics, I could invest more time in the subject.

From then on, I studied harder for physics than any other subjects (beginning almost a week in advance of the tests and studying many hours). Though my other grades did suffer somewhat, my hard work paid off. I became a B/B+ student in the class and came to understand the subject more. Physics is now my favorite class because I feel good every time I walk through the door. This doesn't mean that I don't struggle with it anymore--I do, but I have learned to fight back. What is more important than passing physics, though, is the fact that I learned I can really do anything I put my mind to.

To me, being passed in a subject without putting in the work is the easy (and wrong) way out. I could easily have dropped physics, gone on with my life and never touched the subject again. But deep down, I would know that I had failed myself. I pushed myself precisely because I knew that the grade represented something valuable (work). If I knew another student was being passed without trying as hard as I did, I would completely lose motivation and probably give up. I think it is the wrong lesson to teach that it is okay to move on as long as you put in some effort. Later on, these lessons catch up to you.

Whew! Long post. :o

Roelf
03-13-2007, 09:11 AM
Uhm, where in my posts did i mention this girl didn't try to do her best to understand the things she had to learn? She did her best, but sometimes i doesn't work for someone. You guys keep saying that she should have not chosen or should drop the subject, but in the dutch educational system, physics is mandatory in 2nd and 3rd grade. If you fail, you have to take all classes of that year again. You don't choose physics, you have to take it, you cannot drop it. You have to endure it. If you like it, and you're good enough at it, you can choose it in 4th grade. But if you don't like it, don't need it or are bad at it, you can drop it in 4th grade. This girl did that. Dropped it when she started 4th grade. We still talk about it sometimes when i meet her in town. She is successful in her study at this moment, so i don't regret that decision i made.

Karen S. Garvin
03-13-2007, 04:11 PM
Pomegrenade -


What is more important than passing physics, though, is the fact that I learned I can really do anything I put my mind to.


If you never take physics again, this alone will take you through many problems in life. :thumbsup:

As a victim of public schools, and yes, I do mean victim (I spent two and a half years of lunch time going hungry because I had to hide in the library to avoid being beaten up -- really great for a growing kid, yes?) I know that you get out of your classes what you put into them. While hiding in the library, I read and gave myself the education I wasn't getting in the classrooms, where 50 minutes out of the 55 minute class-time was spent on trying to get the bad students to sit down.

If you want to learn, NOTHING will get in your way. And if you don't want to learn, the fastest computers, newest textbooks, and best teachers in the world won't do you one bit of good.



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