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{ Category Archives } Teaching

theory and practice, anecdotes, and my ongoing education in education

Okay, Okay! Jeez.

The kids were rotten today in class. Not positively confrontational or destructive or any of the various infractions that can earn a trip to the principal’s office. They aren’t stupid enough for that! No, they were just entirely uncooperative, unwilling to do anything at all. Individuals might answer questions, or work very, very briefly on […]

Ask a Silly Question…

There’s a small book, practically a booklet, titled F for Effort. It’s sort of a case study in stupid test answers. Or is it? To be sure, some of the answers betray ignorance, or are simply lazy. Doodling over the cylinder illustrated on your geometry test to make it resemble a section of a sushi […]

Until Morale Improves

My classes at MSU included some perfunctory discussion of morale in the school. Bad morale is an insidious problem; it moves easily from teachers to students, or from students to teachers, or from the general community to the school. Because it can start at and spread from any level of a working school community, it’s […]

Voice of America

I came to this rather circuitously. First a fellow math teacher tweeted a link to the YouTube video “Should Math be Taught in Our Schools?” It’s tongue-in-cheek—I say this because not everyone is sure it’s a joke—but it is disturbingly similar to the YouTube video it satirizes, reporting Miss USA contestents’ thoughts on whether evolution […]


Eileene drew my attention to this morning. She first learned of the site through a news article describing it in the most glowing terms. I’m always suspicious of wondrous new teaching systems, because the reportage on such successes typically suffers from a systemic error: failing to observe that spectacularly successful new (or, more often, […]


First day of actual vacation. Yes, school ended Friday, but I’d have Saturday and Sunday off, anyway. This is real vacation, and I’m going to take the day for myself. I’m not gonna write, and you can’t make me.

Lessons High and Low

School is out at long last. Gargantuan confetti in the form of notebook paper litters the halls, grades are being withheld from students who haven’t returned their textbooks, and nobody’s bothering to take attendance. I’d say it’s time to take stock of my kids’ grades, and what that says about my performance, but honestly I’ve […]

All They Need is a Miracle

I was warned that some people have unrealistic expectations of teachers, but I wasn’t given all the specifics. Parents’ unrealistic expectations usually involve better grades. Some of them take the genius of their children on faith and can’t understand why little Billy doesn’t get straight A’s. Some of them have been ruined by a generation […]

Learning Environment

Class was very unpleasant today, due to the heat—a whopping 99°, the morning news predicted. School closed early because some school buildings get dangerously hot in the afternoon sun, but I still had my morning classes, and they were exhausting, for both me and the kids. Hard to pay attention to sums of infinite series, […]

Sorry, Home-Schoolers

Mike Birbiglia tells a very funny story about his encounter with a bear. The tale meanders a bit, drifting at one point to a claim that, if Birbiglia were a fish, he’d want to leap from the water too, and grow arms and become human, “which is what happened, over time.” To which he adds, […]