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News from the Plains. All this Red can make you Blue

The Hale is going on?
by Barry Friedman

A substitute math teacher at Tulsa's Nathan Hale High School, a few weeks before the end of the semester, was suspended after assigning a series of offending questions, including these two gems:

"Serial killer Ted Bundy has a 20-foot ladder leaning against his favorite tree. The ladder makes a 64-degree angle with the ground. What distance up the tree does the ladder reach?"

Answer: 17.975880925983339855645913533915707098599468276368437 feet. (Sin(64)=x/20)

"Creepy John watches his neighbors with a telescope. Their apartment is 12ft from the ground. John's is 36 ft. If the angle of depression from John's apartment is 47 degrees, how far apart are the two apartment buildings?"
Answer: Not far enough apart.

Some of the parents were justifiably upset.

"The first thing that popped into my mind was just it's creepy," said Mattaliano. "I don't know if (the substitute's) trying to be humorous, if maybe that's some of his personal interest. He could have just got to the same root of the problem with just a simple name."
Yeah, you say that, but the Creepy kind of lets you know John's not kicking right, if you know what I'm saying. Scrupulous John would send the kids in a different mathematical direction.

The principal of the school, Caleb Starr (and is there a better name anywhere in education?) said the teacher in question liked to engage his students with colorful examples ...

Starr said another question, for example, refers to Godzilla.
He then took about 4.3 milliseconds to fire him.

Specifically, as to the Ted Bundy question, one parent said her son didn't even know who the serial murderer was until she told him.

"He's a teenager. He wasn't really too worried about it," she said.
Even after you told him? Damn, this is one tough kid to impress.

And, yet, another student, when asked the teacher's name, said the man went by--wait for it--Mr. Rogers.

One more thing: Bundy had a favorite tree?

Fred Rogers, Ted Bundy, Creepy Johnny

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Comment Preferences

  •  For once, Oklahoma schools and I agree (4+ / 0-)

    The freak was strong with this one. I mean, come on dude - show a little common sense.

    It has to start somewhere. It has to start sometime. What better place than here, what better time than now? - Guerilla Radio, Rage Against The Machine.

    by Fordmandalay on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 09:01:22 PM PDT

  •  Honestly, I loved my algebra teacher, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ZenTrainer, happymisanthropy

    but questions like these would have gotten me to pay far more attention in class.

    Dude needs to use some more common sense, but asking sophomoric math questions and doing infotainment is hardly dangerous to children.

    An Fhirinn an aghaidh an t'Saoghail. (The truth against the world.) Is treasa tuath na tighearna. (The common people are mightier than the lords.)

    by OllieGarkey on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 09:04:18 PM PDT

    •  Go to Guys (0+ / 0-)

      Creepy Johnny and Ted Bundy? Nobody else in your rhetorical bag?

      •  Godzilla apparently. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ZenTrainer

        I agree, but still.

        This is letter of concern territory, not fire the guy territory.

        And who is creepy John? John Lithgow? John Waters? John Edwards?

        Am I wrong, though? He mentioned Ted Bundy in an odd word problem. I really don't think that's firing territory.

        An Fhirinn an aghaidh an t'Saoghail. (The truth against the world.) Is treasa tuath na tighearna. (The common people are mightier than the lords.)

        by OllieGarkey on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 09:17:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  John Edwards? Nice (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          OllieGarkey

          To be fair, you don't really "fire" a substitute--it's more a matter of telling the central office, you don't want him or her in your school. Will the guy teach elsewhere? By next school year, it may be forgotten--or he may decided he doesn't really need the $60/day

          •  I clicked your link, and John Edwards was one (0+ / 0-)

            of the faces that popped up. Along with John Waters and John Lithgow.

            An Fhirinn an aghaidh an t'Saoghail. (The truth against the world.) Is treasa tuath na tighearna. (The common people are mightier than the lords.)

            by OllieGarkey on Wed Jun 05, 2013 at 02:55:24 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  The TV show NUMB3RS worked with schools (3+ / 0-)

      when it was on. The show was on the weekend and the teachers could download relevant math questions for Monday.

      It was a pretty gruesome show but come on, these are high school kids. They're watching all kinds of horror shows. I don't see anything wrong in asking them to mathematically analyze the blood spatter of a dead zombie.

      Or use other interesting ways to engage kids. I once heard the Car Talk brothers tell a trucker with a broken fuel gauge how to use math to figure out how much gas was left in the tank.

      As a society I think we are maybe getting way too politically correct (in imaginary ways). Why not just tell the teacher to use less gory, real examples? But to still have fun with it.  It's not like good math teachers are easy to find.

      Tracy B Ann - technically that is my signature.

      by ZenTrainer on Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 09:25:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  and in a world full of media images of violence, (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ZenTrainer, OllieGarkey

        it is important to teach the children actual history. I recently read The Stranger Beside Me, and I would recommend that all these young people read not that but this: The Gift of Fear.
             The substitute may have done something a little outside the box (How many nails does your average coffin need...?) but now everyone remembers math, and some people learned some history.
             These young people were born into a shrink-wrapped world. Up until 1982 if you wanted an aspirin you bought the bottle off the shelf (sometimes in a loose cardboard box) and unscrewed the cap and took out the cotton. New math question: how many times must a thing be sealed in plastic to prove that it's pure? Tylenol regained their reputation by their aggressive safe-packaging campaign and a single crazy murderer changed the course of public direction.
             So I think the guy probably realized that this is what gets people's attention and ran with it. And granted, in person maybe the guy's a weirdo. I could be totally wrong. But on the surface Ted Bundy was being groomed to run for office and was charming and smooth enough to pick up and kill two girls in one afternoon on the summer's most crowded day at a state public beach.
            ...And many more...

        •  Very funny comment! (2+ / 0-)

          I often curse my sinus capsules! Why must they be kept in bullet proof packaging?

          And I like the coffin question. In a story problem you would have to add a persons weight and height I suppose.

          High math would be how to predict how big a pile of ashes would be from cremating a person of a certain size. (Sadly, I know a bit about this one, having had many pets cremated as they died of old age. Not as they died, after they died!))

          Tracy B Ann - technically that is my signature.

          by ZenTrainer on Wed Jun 05, 2013 at 09:46:01 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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