Fired for doing the job the right way

Last Halloween, I dressed up like a teacher — not exactly an alter ego; I have a certificate — went to the local high school, and substituted in Family & Consumer Science.

There was a small ruction in third period; the principal and I discussed it amicably, and I barely gave it second thought. However, a couple weeks later, I received a letter informing me he was removing me from the sub list! Explanation (from said letter): he “visited with the class,” and the “interactions between yourself and the students were not such as meet our expectations for substitutes.”

A parent reported that a student had videotaped me on his cell phone. So, no doubt if there were a hint of unethical practice — singling a child out for ridicule, touching anyone, or making unreasonable demands — either on the video or in student testimony, my infraction would have been fully detailed.

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9 Responses to Fired for doing the job the right way

  1. Paulie says:

    Great commentary. As they say across the pond: “Hear-Hear!” (and that’s correct, btw; not ‘here-here’)

    • Unclezip says:

      Interesting. I always heard it as “Beer-Beer”. Gotta get my ears and liver checked.

  2. Paulo says:

    While I am a carpenter by trade, I also taught school for 17 years. On my first job early ’90s I was teaching math and I had a kid in the class that just dicked around and wasted everyone’s time. I took him outside and actually threatened him to smarten him up. I told him after I failed him I would kick his fucking ass when he was around town. I said if he complained about what I said I would just deny it then kick his fuckin ass for it. It worked and he passed. But hey, I taught shop classes and ran them like job sites….lots of fun for the most part and good workers. Phone records? Ban them from schools. Now.

  3. Jstwaiting says:

    Sad but exists almost everywhere I am afraid.

  4. Unclezip says:

    During the last ten years of my latest career, I’ll bet I handed out twenty copies of Strunk and White The Elements of Style. The spelling and grammatical errors coming from [intelligent] degree holders just blew my mind. As the senior engineer, one of my tasks was to extirpate most of the bad habits picked up in college. Think of the guy writing software to operate an aircraft, or even an elevator. Spelling mistakes are thinking mistakes, and at times can be quite revealing – or disastrous.

    The first thing I would tell a new hire was “when you write something, read it and throw out half. Repeat once more, and check spelling and grammar before releasing it.”. This is advice right out of the book. You don’t have to be a perfectionist, or anal – but at least try to not look mentally lazy.

    • Wirecutter says:

      When I write a story I never ever publish it right away. I’ll finish it, sit on it for a couple days, re-read it, proofread it, and then go through the process at least a couple more times.
      Even after I post it I’ll find myself going back and editing it. I don’t care how good I think it might be, there’s going to be mistakes in it.

    • Mike_C says:

      Spelling mistakes are thinking mistakes, and at times can be quite revealing – or disastrous.

      Strongly agree. I really hate the response of “but you know what I meant” with the implication that they don’t need to fix their mistakes. Imagine directions for, oh I dunno, say the proper temperature to heat baby formula, where it says “Heat to about body temperature, 98.6 deg C.” Obviously it should have said deg F, but you could see some idiot heating the formula to near boiling (100 deg C), as the instructions say, and burning the fuck out of some poor baby. “But the reader should’ve known it was supposed to be Fahrenheit!” whines the sloppy writer. No, asshole, if they knew, they wouldn’t have needed your instructions. Plus, show some pride in your work and just get it right.

      I run into the dealing with bad writing problems all the time as well, from people with MDs (and/or PhDs) on top of their Ivy League undergrad degrees. I spend a VERY nontrivial proportion of my time while wearing the “research supervisor hat” editing what other people have written. If the time expended was for actual scientific stuff (hypothesis, experimental design, statistical plan, etc) that’d be fine, but much of the time is spent correcting deficiencies in writing. It’s not only the stylistic ABC’s (accuracy, brevity [1], clarity), but spelling and grammar as well. And this from American-borns with prestigious colleges on their CV. Hell, the Pretty Korean Girl writes better than many of these folks, and she grew up in Korea and English is her third language.

      But for maximum editorial masochism, review scientific manuscripts written by confused non-English speakers. Last night I spent about 3h reviewing a medical imaging paper from China for a radiology journal [2]. Half the time there is spent trying to figure out what the authors were freaking trying to say. (Not having a hypothesis is a bad sign. Putting key technique information at the end of the Discussion instead of up front in Methods where it belong is another bad sign.) Anyhoo, I purely dread receiving papers from China to review, because it takes so much more effort. Indian English tends to the idiosyncratic, but is more readable. Nordic [3] countries, Germany, not a problem as a rule. Often their English is better than most Americans (bear in mind these are highly educated Germans and Nordics I’m talking about).

      In the last few years the proportion of papers-to-review coming from China has gone up. I had a moment of paranoia that the editors were deliberately sending papers from China to the Chinese guy (I’ve never even been to China, but still), but apparently that’s not the case. It’s just that China is asserting itself not just economically and militarily, but also on the scientific front, so they’re pumping out scientific/medical papers at a furious rate. So far the US and Western Europe still have a strong lead overall, and in Asia the PRC lags behind Japan and the ROK (South Korea) I’d say, but the Chinese are charging hard.

      [1] I know I am basically the opposite of brevity here (and thanks for letting me use so many of your electrons, Kenny), but here I’m mostly spouting off on the fly; this is NOT how I write professionally.

      [2] No, we do NOT get paid to serve as peer reviewers for scientific journals. It’s “service” and we’re all dumb enough to do it for free because it’s supposed to be prestigious. It actually goes on your academic CV (editorial board memberships, and being an ad hoc peer reviewer). Being a reviewer can also help you get an “O” visa (“alien of extraordinary ability”) I am told, since it implies a level of competence that you are reviewing other people’s scientific work. I probably spend 1-2 days/month just reviewing papers. (Again, for FREE. Dammit.) Bigger fish than me also review funding grants (I’ve done a few grant reviews, but not regularly) which is even more time consuming.

      [3] Nordics. Sheesh. The Swedish Disaster is fluent in Swedish, Danish, English and French (admittedly all with an accent, including her rural-Scanian hick Swedish). Finnish Lady speaks Finnish, English, German, and Swedish; plus she reads Spanish at college level on top of that. And they’re not entirely atypical. For that matter, PKG is fluent in Korean, Japanese and English.

  5. Old Gray Wolf says:

    To see how fucked Amercan education(and by extension, the nation) is, look up the 8th grade exam from Bullitt County school circa 1912. There is likely not 500 people in America today who could pass the test, and most who could, probably could not ace it. I was home schooled by a certified teacher with a vested interest(thanks, Mom) in my success, made a 4.0 average in college(STEM degree) and have an IQ in the mid 130’s. I believe I would fail that eighth grade exam. I am in my 40’s. Where do you think people under thirty who went to public schools are?

    I remember having to read and critique classmates' theses in English 101. It was painful. Kids who did well in high school could not form a coherent sentence reliably, used completely wrong words, and could not point me to the thesis in their paper- because there wasn't one. In clinical science classes, I had to repeatedly work with classmates who were also A students to get them pronouncing words like larynx and sphenoid correctly. By the way, it is not just students who cannot pronounce such words, I have also heard experienced "professionals" pronounce such words incorrectly.

    We now have multiple generations of educators who are nearly illiterate themselves, and I fail to see how we are to improve the quality of education using illiterate teachers. We are facing a future that is a mix of 1984 and Idiocracy. Realize, that opinion is not entirely born of education. An acquaintance loaned me Idiocracy and told me to watch it, that it was funny. I lasted less than five minutes. That movie made my head hurt. Going to Walmart !has the same effect, these days.

    I am moving as far from the masses as is possible, as soon as I work out the logistics. Something will eventually break that no one is smart enough to fix, and the cascade of crises and resulting panic that follows will not be safe to be in the middle of.

    • lineman says:

      Amen Brother…A Community that has everything needed to survive and be able to handle whatever comes will be the place to be…

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