"Okay, class, write down the color and texture of the four objects, then find the density of the objects. And please, don't scrape the wax off of the wax block."
This would have been an acceptable assignment in 3rd grade. Or 4th. Or 5th. Heck, 6th was pushing it, but if we were using interesting objects, it'd be fine with me and at least it'd be curriculum-related and we'd be learning something.
But this was 8th grade. 8th grade, in a high-capability class, the year with a huge standardized science test at the end of it and we were finding the texture of acrylic and candle wax, or something.
Because this was new stuff and we needed to spend a week figuring this out. Uh-huh. Oh no, I don't know how to find the texture of this object! Oh dear, I can't see the colors of this and I'm not colorblind!
Just, no. No.
And the worst thing about it was that the teacher gave us things that we didn't even know the names of but were obviously commonplace and not really academic at all. Nope, she wouldn't have us figure out the physical properties of elements and compounds that we should be learning about. Nope, that would be too academic, wouldn't it?
Yeah, it would.
So we're stuck feeling wax and metal and hooking it up to a thing that tests conductivity (which is interesting and new the first two times, maybe, then starts being really stupid) and- oh dear- finding the density.
Because, sadly, nobody in the room apparently knows how to do that.
Except for me and my partner, and a handful of others. So much for the high-capability. Apparently America has different standards than me.
Because its super impossible to figure out that density equals mass over volume. Especially since we've learned it every. Single. Year.
So me and my partner finish feeling, inspecting, and poking the materials, and all we have to do is find the density. Simple. They're all cubes, and all I have to do is weigh it on a scale that's right in front of me to find the mass, and then measure the base, width and height of the cube and multiply those to find the volume, then divide the two.
Turns out the teacher is either deaf or really really confused. We ask her if density is indeed mass over volume, and she answers,
"Nope, you just figure out the mass."
Last time I checked, density was mass over VOLUME, not just mass? Hello?
Well, there was no questioning the teacher, smart as she was. So we find the mass (no volume), and then we show it to her.
She says that's not correct.
"Um, the numbers shouldn't be that." Teacher looks pretty disappointed.
"Yeah, but we kinda found the mass like you told us to. But shouldn't it be mass divided by the volume?" We reply.
And then she walks away. By now, everyone's like "what the heck is density", and she's not paying any attention. When the whole class gets to asking her what the heck it is, she replies with this,
"Look it up online. You have phones, use them!"
The rest of the class goes to do just that. Not me. I was, um, preoccupied with the way she said that- the tone wasn't really a pleasant one. Because I'm just standing there, mouth open partially in a small o, hand frozen in midair, blinking like crazy. Then an eyebrow goes up. Then the other. Then the hand that was up bangs against the table as I growl and mutter things that I don't even understand.
"What?" That's my partner.
"Props for being such a great teacher. Teaching us everything we need to know! Seriously," I mutter, "I might as well be homeschooled! And I don't have a phone that can use the Internet. And we'd need it, if the formula we have isn't correct."
And so we go ahead and draw fraction marks and then add the volumes that were missing for the cubes, so we have the correct mass/volume. We get done in about two minutes. And we're certain that the numbers are correct, and the teacher comes around, and she'd better-
"Nope, those numbers aren't right."
I'm tempted to swear. I really am. But the good part of me stops me, only allowing me to say a simple, "what" and scowl.
"Well, then why-" I start to say, but she's already left. Again, props for being such a great teacher.
And we're just stuck looking at our work and not knowing what went wrong.
We try. We weigh some of the materials again. Measure again. Make sure everything is right. We ask someone across the table (who has Internet) for the formula. It's mass over volume. Someone at our table found it in the books, too, and it's -guess what- mass over volume.
"Nope, it's not right." Again. And again. No reason why when we ask, it's always, "Well, I don't know, but the numbers aren't right." And when I ask why, why in the world are our answers not correct, she replies with a, "Geez, no need to get so worked up."
I don't really get worked up when I'm actually being taught, excusez-moi.
And we kinda just roll our eyes and sit down.
And then the teacher comes around again, and we ask very clearly, "Why. Are. Our. Numbers. Not. Correct. We. Used. The. Formula. Density. Equals. Mass. Over. Volume. And. Here. Are. Our. Fractions. Why. Are. They. Not. Correc-"
"You said fractions? Oh, well, you were supposed to use decimals."
Oh. My. Gosh. She did not-
And WHY did she not notice that it was in fraction form?! I suppose that it must have not been clearly marked, or something, so I look at the paper. It looks pretty clear to me, but I mean, it could have not been to someone else, so I guess it was simply a misunderstanding, so.
One more question, though. Just to clarify things for the future.
"So, uh, why didn't you say anything about it not being in fraction form?"
Because there was no mention whatsoever of it being in fraction form, and it was natural for us to use it, as we used it last year, and the year before that (unless we were talking about something that wasn't irrational, like 3/2, which could easily be translated to the ending decimal 1.5), and we were kinda taught in math that we should use fractions. And, you know, it's good to know if you need to use fractions or decimals for a class so you know how-
"Well, why didn't you do it correctly first?"
No reason as to why she didn't tell us to not use fractions. No reason as to why fractions weren't to be used. Just... that.
Why didn't you do it correctly.
What, oh, am I supposed to read your mind and magically know what you're thinking? Just like how I'm supposed to have a phone that had the Internet on it and how I'm supposed to-
Well, I'm sorry, but we kinda just came out from a Geometry class an hour ago that was just talking about how you should use fractions and radicals that still was in a radical sign instead of using approximate numbers, oh, and by the way, might I add, you're very polite.
Because what you say is right, and we're little students who are puppies you can bash, and because you can easily tame us by having us watch a funny YouTube video and putting puns up on your front door.
Thanks for the offer, but I'd rather learn something than be entertained by watching people letting ducks swim for the first time.
Because I kinda want to learn here? So, you know, if you could actually teach me...
Then maybe I wouldn't be as frustrated, huh.