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Note: Greatly edited in 2017 to remove details, some personal, most merely pointless and boring.

Last time I updated, it seems, was in January. Well. I, uh, I guess I don’t really have an excuse to give you. I mean, I could think one up, but–well, actually…

After school all days of the week until late at night I had to go to my special apprenticeship to Trent Lott. I was thus unable to update my blog.

Today in math we were working on probability; we were doing a problem about phone numbers. It had to do with how many possibilities there are for each group of numbers ((aaa) bbb-cccc) when figuring in given restrictions (such as: in the area code the first digit can’t be 1 or 0, and the second digit has to be either 1 or 0). Well, for the last four digits, the restriction was that at least one of them has to be something other than 0. How many possible four-digit combinations are there in that system? The way the class has learned to work it, you multiply 10 × 10 × 10 × 9 and get 9000, because one of them has to be restricted to nine digits. If you’re a thinking person, this will immediately jump out at you as incorrect. The correct way to figure it is to realize that by requiring that at least one digit not be zero, the only combination they have excluded is 0000, which is one of 10,000 possibilities. This leaves 9999 viable combinations, which is considerably more than 9000. However, Mrs Otten didn’t object at all when someone wrote it on the board the other way, and neither did anyone else in the class. Just having realized they were doing this problem at the board (I’m prone to bouts of apathy in math, wherein I just doodle on a sheet of paper), I raised my hand to tell her the way I did it, but, because I had made a comment about just excluding 0000 earlier while I was only listening and not watching—a comment that apparently went unheard except by Mrs Otten—she told me, “I knew you were going to say that,” and then gave me the “wait a second” sign, meaning she’d come back to it later. She didn’t; she just kept on doing the problem until it was done, wrong, with the answers all about ten percent off. I raised my hand again. She came over and squatted down next to my desk and told me in a confidential voice that, yes, technically that was the correct way, but the simple way gave an answer that wasn’t all that far off and anyhow this kind of situation didn’t come up that often, so she had made a decision that she wasn’t going to bother teaching the right way to get the answer. Then she walked away and I chewed on that for a while. Gradually I started getting more and more righteously incensed by this deliberate miseducation. Toward the end of class I raised my hand again. I came over and told her, “I’ve been thinking about this—”, but she instantly cut me off and started getting defensive and angry and told me that she had made the decision to let this mistake ride because it didn’t really come up that often and if I wanted to debate her on it we could do it in private. I started to make the argument that none of the other stuff we learned in math class came up that often, or, indeed, ever, and the fact that there was even a real-life example of this should give it some special consideration, but she wouldn’t give me the chance. It was the end of the bell, so I stopped arguing and got ready to leave. Later I realized that I shouldn’t have given in to her: I was clearly in the right; in fact, I was mathematically proven to be in the right, so I should have kept on arguing it with her until she was forced to concede, and not just let her change reality because she gets paid to illuminate it to us! I realized this while I was walking to my next class. Later, I thought: how much has Mrs Otten been miseducating us about? Who else has been lying to us? Why now should I trust any of the faculty? I’ve had my feelings that the staff around here was a bit dubious: problems with discipline, unquestioning acceptance of totalitarian regulations. Usually I’ve been able to overlook it and figure that I simply misunderstood or didn’t well enough understand the situation. Perhaps that guy’s swearing and slurring wasn’t actually against the rules severely enough to warrant action, even though it seemed to be. Or, maybe there’s a good reason that the main entrance to the high school is still blocked by mud and construction fence more than four months after the water main was replaced. Dr Tracy was willing to give reasons for things that seemed illogical. I figured usually these reasons at least had a hint of reason in them, somewhere, or he wouldn’t give them. (There were exceptions to this, such as when I noted, “Isn’t it funny how the cheerleaders’ uniforms are so against the dress code?” and he said, “I don’t know which parts of the dress code you would be talking about…”.) But now I’m disillusioned. If there’s corruption that’s this outright, then I really have no reason to trust anything a staff member says again. I’m now thrilled by the revelation that this school is a place where lying is commonplace and not really frowned on at all! It explains so much! Why do we have to tuck in our shirts? No reason; they’re just lying because they thought it would create “common decency” and they don’t want to admit it did nothing but seriously make students mad at them. Why is that construction project still unfinished? When I asked Dr Tracy, he said it was because the winter wasn’t a good time of the year to plant grass, and they wanted to do the whole thing at once. At first I thought that was just a true reason that happened to be absolutely ridiculous; now I realize that it was total bull. The thing it doesn’t explain is: Why am I letting this group of people take charge of my learning, my intellect, and my future?

That’s a rant.

File under: high school, Not a Real School

Note: comments are temporarily disabled because Google’s spam-blocking software cannot withstand spammers’ resolve.



Hear hear. One reason I’m letting you complete things at Finneytown is because you have a good group of kids there. I’m not at all impressed by the staff. However, I did think the high school staff were a bit better than the middle school. My assumption was clearly wrong, especially as evidenced by your math teacher.
I’m copying your dad on this, too. This is getting more insane every day. Unreal. Unfortunately even the best universities will have a good degree of incompetence and incompetents as well. I came across many in my education at Miami.
Your math teacher clearly went to the Al Gore School of Higher Arithmetic (aka “fuzzy math”) if that’s the way things are being taught. Wasn’t she working for Enron at one time? (sigh)


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Actually we’re sticking with National Emblem as well because we have to start working on D.C. music starting on Thursday.

If it’s any consolation, I know that the school board is trying to get that construction area around front fixed up. Dr. Tracy is also retiring so it’s possible that his replacement may be more inclined to give students the full story behind what often seem like random policies.

There will always be a few bad teachers at any school. What you have to do is actively seek out the good ones. It is your education so make it what you want as best you can. Most teacher’s really do want to teach. This is part of the reason that discipline is like it is. They are frankly just tired of spending their time and energy trying to enforce the rules on people who don’t care and then having to neglect teaching those who are doing it right.

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