Students don’t learn because teachers don’t teach. The reason for this is that the teachers who try to teach get screwed over and either burn out or get fired when students and parents complain that classes are too hard. So the good teachers either leave or give up and phone it in. I discovered this the hard way.

After I retired, I took a couple of years off before becoming a teacher, which I did part time for two years, and then full time for the next five years. I taught high school science classes during all of that time. For the first couple of years that I was full time, I taught advanced courses like Chemistry and Physics. The courses I taught allowed a student to take an exam after it concluded, and if they scored high enough on that exam, they would receive college credit for the course. In other words, a college level class being taught at the high school level. Students hated the fact that my course was difficult and constantly complained. Meanwhile, school administrators wanted my course to be both more rigorous and easier for students to receive an A.

During that first full time year, I was physically attacked in my classroom by a student because I took his cell phone and told him he would have to get it from the office. I wound up quitting that job and changing school districts.

The second year saw me teaching physics in my new school district. Students were constantly complaining that I was destroying their GPA because my class was too hard. They just didn’t have the math or study skills to be successful. I spent far too much of my time trying to teach things like calculating uncertainty, which isn’t that mathematically difficult.

A quiz in this class would look something like this (you will find the answers at the end of this post, for those of you geeky enough to want to solve them):

  1. A man in a tree stand 5 meters above the ground fires a rifle perfectly parallel to the ground. At the instant the 4 gram bullet leaves the muzzle of his rifle, his 125 gram watch falls off. If the bullet’s muzzle velocity is 1,000 meters per second, which will hit the ground first: the bullet or the watch? (You may ignore air resistance and the curvature of the Earth)
  2. NY Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge hits a baseball. It leaves his bat at a 22 degree angle while travelling at 40 meters per second. The outfield wall is 370 feet away. Does he score a home run? (You may ignore air resistance, the initial height of the ball when it was struck, and the height of the outfield wall.)
  3. You specify that a metal shop cut you a metal plate with the following specifications and margins of error: 32.0mm +/- 0.5mm x 30.0 mm +/- 0.5mm x 1.0 mm +/- 0.05 mm. If the density of this metal is 2700 g/cm3, what will the plate’s mass be (in grams)?(Significant figures count)

They began circulating a petition to get me fired. I caught them cheating. It was a tough year. The average grade for the class of 20 students was an 84, with 3 students getting an A, and two getting a D. The rest got B’s and C’s. When the college exams came around, four of them managed to score high enough for college credit.

So in year three, they gave me standard track Biology to be taught to the students that they euphemistically referred to as “underperforming.” This paper, written by a 15 year old who was in the 10th grade, is what I had to work with. Yes, this is a scan of an actual paper that was turned in to me, and no, he is not retarded:

At the beginning of year four, I was pulled aside by the principal and asked if I wanted to go back to teaching physics to the smart kids. It seems that the teacher that they had given that class to gave 3/4 of the class an A, but every one of them failed the college credit exam, even though the class average was a 92. I told them that the only way I would teach it was if I would not have to catch any static from administrators when students complained about their grades. The reply that I got was “We were hoping that you would agree to find a way to make your class more fun.” I declined and was sentenced to teach Biology to the dumbasses again. Hey, at least the lovable little morons weren’t trying to get me fired.

COVID hit at the end of that year. Teachers were instructed to hold class by Zoom meetings, we were required to give and grade assignments, and were told to enforce it rigorously. So I did. I would up doing quite a bit of effort and work, holding class. Only a quarter of my students did the work. At the end of the school year, the school district gave everyone at least a C. To think I could have done nothing for three months and gotten paid.

My fifth year as a full time teacher was to teach physical science. At the halfway point of the year, we were told that, due to the stress of COVID, we would have to give every student a passing grade. More than a half of my students were chronically absent. Then we were told that our students’ performance on end of the year exams would not affect their grades, but would affect our pay raises. I quit a week later and went back to health care.


  1. Since the acceleration of gravity is the same (~9.80 m/s2) for all objects on Earth, the watch and the bullet would strike the Earth at the same time, but the bullet will be some distance away in the horizontal plane.
  2. Yes, he will score a home run because the ball will land 372 feet away.
  3. The plate will have a volume of 0.883-1.04 cm3. That will cause it to have a mass of between 2,380-2,800 grams. (three significant figures) This last problem gave them fits. They couldn’t understand how tolerances could give you an uncertain result.
Categories: Failure of Education


DMLMD · October 6, 2022 at 5:59 am

Just waiting for SMOD or an early death. My future geriatrician might excel at asking me my preferred pronouns, but not confident he/she/xe will excel at medicine.

Can involvement in school boards and etc turn the schools around from their current course guided by the woke teachers union? Or will colleges start offering a major in Internet Influencer?

darthlaurel · October 6, 2022 at 11:03 am

IMO-One reason students don’t learn is that many teachers (the majority, I’d say from my experience) don’t know anything. They can’t teach (in the classical sense of the word) because they are ignorant (being generous here in my use of language). They are surrounded by the ignorant and so they often don’t even realize how ignorant they are. They also have almost no humility and less intellectual curiosity. They are able to transmit to the students a few things however (largely their own ignorance), and they seem to enjoy propagandizing them (they know lots of factoids and are easily duped into teaching lies because of their depth of ignorance). American public schools ends up being an exercise of the unintelligent leading the ignorant. The entire thing needs to be dismantled. It can not be fixed.

    Baron von Cut-n-Paste · October 6, 2022 at 2:18 pm

    Yeah. Without having any sort of rigorous data to back it up, I blame Education Degrees. The focus is entirely on knowing how to teach and not what you actually are teaching.

    I also think, again without any backing data, that the how has been borked by an emphasis on theory over practice. Does the latest hip new pedagogical method actually work? Who knows, but it’s been endorsed by ivory tower theoreticians who wouldn’t recognize an actual classroom if it smacked them in the face, so full steam ahead!

      Divemedic · October 6, 2022 at 5:53 pm

      Ask Marzano. Most of the schools follow his teaching methods, and he never taught in a single classroom. That didn’t stop him from writing a series of books detailing how teachers should teach. It’s such a pain in the ass. We had constant training, meetings, and emails on how we should follow [insert here] as recommended by Marzano. It seems almost like a religious tablet inscribed upon a stone tablet by a god. It’s a constant thing that teachers get beaten over the head with.

      Henry · October 6, 2022 at 9:02 pm

      My uncle taught various public high school math courses in a solidly middle class, suburban district for 30 years and he had nothing but contempt for “curriculum coordinators” and other seemingly endless flavors of administrators, along with teachers who were all armed with the Education degrees you correctly disparage. He felt strongly about having degrees in actual subjects (History, English, Math, Physics, etc.) as a requirement for any formal involvement in education. Education majors were, in one sense, the easy-to-obtain equivalent of * Studies degrees in contemporary times.

      darthlaurel · October 6, 2022 at 10:57 pm

      This is done on purpose to prevent accountability. If you change methodologies (and textbooks) on a regular basis, you can never be held to any standard. It’s a moving target and they know it. They know exactly what they are doing. It’s also why states change standardized tests regularly.

        Divemedic · October 7, 2022 at 6:27 am

        I think that many on the right are incorrect in using standardized testing as a way to measure teacher performance. Standardized testing tests the student, but poor student performance doesn’t necessarily reflect the competence of the teacher.
        Teach a room full of kids who have a stable home life, parents who value their child’s education and are involved in helping them learn, then teach a room full of kids whose parents don’t care: Dad is missing, mom is a druggie, and the kid is being raised by grandma- who also spends her nights at the bar. Oh, and the kids are absent most of the time. Guess which one has better test scores?

Big Ruckus D · October 6, 2022 at 11:23 am

We ae so totally fucked. Getting nuked by Vlad may be the more merciful and graceful exit from the “future” that awaits us with – ot without – a mass culling. So much dead weight, what the hell is possibly going to povide the carrying capacity for so many useless morons? Yes, it’s a rhetorical question. Indoor plumbing sure was nice while it lasted.

Aesop · October 6, 2022 at 12:09 pm

Stop teaching in public schools. They’re training academies for prison, which is where most of them will graduate to in due course.

    Divemedic · October 6, 2022 at 5:56 pm

    Why do you think that I chose to leave teaching and return to health care, even in the middle of a pandemic?

Chipmunk · October 6, 2022 at 5:28 pm

Your exam questions look fun and interesting to me. I had a high school calculus teacher who gave similarly interesting questions (e.g. the rate of a dripping ice cream cone).
Fast forward 30-some years. I was working as a mobile pet groomer for a teacher who tutors middle school students. She needed my help to assist one in algebra. I was not impressed with her ability to teach.

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