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Verbiage: Kids challenge teacher saying fact is opinion

Chacham (981) writes | more than 10 years ago

User Journal 7

Via a writeup on Fox News, i found this little thing.

Via a writeup on Fox News, i found this little thing.

Just this week I had a number of 12th grade students (who had all attended the same elementary school) insist that a 40x30 rectangle was, in fact, a square. In fact, the only thing they wanted to call a rectangle was a right-angled quadrilateral with dramatically different heights and widths, like a door or a chalkboard. If the height was close to the width (like a 4:3 TV screen ratio, or even an 8.5x11 sheet of paper) they insisted it was a square.

But here's the kicker: when I tried to actually teach the correct definition of a square, students refused to listen, because they acted like it was just my opinion.

That is actually a life lesson. Though, Ps and Js will get different things out of it.

7 comments

It's worse than just opinion--it's just language (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 10 years ago | (#8627988)

"square", as a word, can easily apply to anything that's sufficiently "squarish". Like a PC monitor or a CD case. (Or a slightly-even-sided clearing in the middle of a town, often called a "square")

OTOH, "perfect square" is a precise term--and people are just abusing language if they try and say that a "perfect square" is anything but perfect-angle perfectly-equal sides.

This kind of language shift also happens with colors, though even if we were to erroneously assume that "language is set in stone" we'd still run up with the vagarities of how people perceive color.

Re:It's worse than just opinion--it's just languag (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8628757)

If the topic where what's more a square than a circle, then sure, a tv screen is "square" (as in "squarish").

But this was a high school math class, and the lesson was a review of the formula for the permiteter of a square versus the perimeter of a rectangle. While the latter can be represented P=2(L+W) the former is simply P=4L.

Cheers!

ReformK12.com [reformk12.com] Because education reform is not rocket science!

Re:It's worse than just opinion--it's just languag (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630271)

"square", as a word, can easily apply to anything that's sufficiently "squarish".

And the context of a geometry lesson doesn't change this?

Re:It's worse than just opinion--it's just languag (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 10 years ago | (#8630974)

What makes you think it was a geometry lesson?

Or, more to the point--once you're dealing with high school students, the only time that you care that squares are equal-sided is in a word problem and they only define one of the sides of the square.

Re:It's worse than just opinion--it's just languag (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 10 years ago | (#8633859)

What makes you think it was a geometry lesson?

Because they were specifically discussing shapes. Or so it seemed.

Re:It's worse than just opinion--it's just languag (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 10 years ago | (#8634015)

Because they were specifically discussing shapes. Or so it seemed.

Could be. Or, it could be that the teacher (a substitute probably, based on their unfamiliarity with the students) was discussing a different lesson (or just filling time--especially likely for a sub), and somehow the topic came up.

My high school experience ended geometry at 10th grade, not 12th--and senior year was mostly empty time, to be spent deciding what the next step in life is. If this was a remedial algebraic geometry class, then it would make sense--but it could just as easily be a "senior prank" on a teacher.

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