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Chemistry is a subject that has greatly interested me since I was a child. My elementary school curriculum didn't cover it to my satisfaction, so I looked forward to studying it in high school.
My first high school was an exceptionally bad school, and my grade nine science teacher was one of the worst teachers I ever had. She verbally abused students who questioned her, and openly demonstrated favouritism toward her sycophants. Her divisiveness generated heated animosity between her clique and her outcasts, occasionally to the point where people expected physical violence to erupt. Extremely self-centred, she routinely prioritized trivial matters from her personal life over her job as an educator.
When I learned that she taught chemistry, I made it very clear to the school that I didn't want her as my chemistry teacher. Signing up for classes one year, I emphasized -- in person, in writing, and on the course selection form -- that I mustn't be placed in her room again. Looking at my list of classes at the start of the next school year, I saw that the school had ignored my plea.
I demanded that the school transfer me to the other chemistry class, which had a different teacher, fewer students, empty seats, and took place at the same time. Again, the terrible school ignored me.
The days that I spent in her chemistry class were torturous. Our disdain for each other roiled like it did in grade nine.
Being more accustomed to her than I was in grade nine, I noticed something about her that I hadn't realized before: she was kind of dumb. As the days went on, I discovered that she was actually alarmingly unintelligent.
I questioned my assessment of her intellect, so I consulted students she'd alienated to ask for their opinions. Unanimously, they all agreed that she was remarkably stupid.
Her stupidity became distracting. I began documenting her idiocy, and on this page, I posted some anecdotes. I've never publicized her name or her place of employment, but a few of my peers knew that I'd made this page about her, and they were eager to contribute chronicles of their own experiences. Ultimately, I decided to include my own findings exclusively.
Yelling hatefully at each other one day, I decided that I wasn't going to tolerate her any longer. The school wouldn't let me switch to the other chemistry class, so I switched to something else.
Unfortunately, that was my only chemistry class in high school. The chemistry teachers at my second high school were probably quite competent, but by then, there were other subjects that interested me more, so I didn't pursue it. Fortunately, ample knowledge of the subject can be found in libraries, on the Internet, at post-secondary schools, and elsewhere, so at least I can try again if I ever find the time to do so.
So, why do I say that my chemistry teacher was stupid? Included below is my data from the few days that I spent in her class.
We were discussing properties of metals. The student who sat in front of me put up their hand and said, "Most metals are good at reflecting light.".
The chemistry teacher was baffled by this statement. She stared off into the distance, wondering what this meant. She responded with "I'm... not... quite sure what you're talking about... But they're shiny!".
Thanks to dastardly former Ontario Premier Mike Harris, students enrolled in the local education district had to attend school on days that were traditionally non-school days.
Many students in the classroom were wondering when the school year would end. The chemistry teacher responded to our queries with "I haven't got the notice about that yet. From what I've heard, it sounds like teachers are getting off on July 2nd. For you guys, I think it's June 31st that you're getting off. Actually, I'm very sure that you're getting off on June 31st.".
I was reminded of the elementary school poem "Thirty Days".
The chemistry teacher taught us about uncertain digits. For the population of the world minus the number of people she has taught, I will explain -- according to her -- what are uncertain digits.
When we do anything in math, we never know for certain that the last digit in a number is correct. After all, when doing anything in math, the only digit with which we ever make a mistake is the last one. The last digits must be replaced by 0s, and then underlined.
For example, in the equation 16 + 16 = 32, the 6s and the 2 are uncertain. 16 + 16 = 32 becomes 10 + 10 = 30. Clearly, all possible errors have been removed, and the answer must be correct. 10 + 10 = 30.
Using this system that she taught us, we will never make a mistake in math.
On our second test, question number two read "What is an example of a model?". I answered "Kate Moss".
When I got the test back after submitting it, I saw that my answer to question number two was marked as incorrect. I asked some of the people around me, "Is Kate Moss a model?", and everyone I asked responded the same way: "Yes.".
I approached the teacher the next day and asked her the same question. She responded the same as everyone else.
Not understanding how I made a mistake, I asked her why she marked my answer as incorrect. She told me that I "[wasn't reading] the question in the right context.".
I read it in the correct context! Nowhere did it say of what type of model to give as an example. I could have put down "car", "home", "train", or "citizen", and still should have answered the question correctly.
I was very displeased.
She gave us questions on tests that were never discussed in class, in our assignments, designated reading material, or prerequisite courses.
Were we supposed to have a thorough understanding of everything taught in a course before signing up to learn the content?
She spent more time talking about her children than she did about the subject.
Maybe there were secret messages about the subject hidden in her stories. If so, they were subliminal, not metaphorical.
She laughed almost constantly, and there was never any indication of what she found humorous.
Could she have been mentally ill? I know of a local mental hospital where she could have sought asylum.
A small shipment of periodic tables was supposed to arrive, and we could "purchase copies for 30 cents each". A year before, the teacher ordered the same thing through the same courier service. She forgot how great was the cost of the shipment, but decided to order them again anyway.
She told us, "It seems you're going to have to pay 40 cents for each copy instead of the 35 cents you would have had to pay before.". Correcting herself, she amended, "Sorry, I meant to say 'you would have had to pay 25 cents before'.".
Should someone who's numerically dyslexic be trusted with reading measurements of volatile substances?
During the discussion of properties of metals, she said that all metals are very hard.
Before that lesson, we thought mercury was a liquid in our environment. Apparently, we were wrong.
It's okay if she didn't know how to spell "continuum". After all, she had been teaching chemistry at that school for only a decade when I was there.
"Why does the heart pump blood? No one knows! It just does."
On the chalkboard, she wrote: 2.0 - 3.2 = 1.2.
I think there was a reason why she refused to divulge her qualifications.