Teachers are in the position where they can tell you things that are supposed to be truthful, factual, good, and non-offensive. While some teachers say the funniest experiences to us, others misuse their position and say (or do) outrageous things that we will never forget. Here we have gathered stories from Quora community who shared both good and bad experience with their teachers.
Comments have been edited for clarity. The source can be found the end of the article.
Not untrue, not cruel, and not stupid, but sometimes silly beyond belief,
Professor Mark Wise of Ph125, Junior Quantum Mechanics at Caltech said some royally awesome things. Documented at
- “Oh I thought you were Pizza”
- “When you’re doing cosmology, your standards have to drop.” (on the 10^149 fold discrepancy between a theory and an experiment)
- “You could also interpret that as me being lazy, but I prefer if you interpret it as me respecting you.”
- (In reference to another professor) “He’s very tall; he’ll do a great job!”
- There’s a bazillion ways to write this, actually there’s three but that’s the approximation in this field; we assume 3 is infinity.
- “Other faculty are probably going to make sure that everything makes sense but this is MY CLASS and we’re going to do it MY WAY!
- “So you know how they use QED or whatever in math? In this class we use Woohoo!”
- Much much more
Final note: I have the highest regard for this guy. He is epic.
I did my graduation in Business Administration. Irrespective of our majors, we were all required to take up a certain economics course titled “Socio Economic Profiles of Bangladesh”. The topic was quite interesting, but the teacher made it one of the most torturous and boring classes I’ve ever had to endure.
His teaching style was simple. He loved the old fashioned stuff. Every day, he’d bring in some hand written notes and display them to us using an OHP (Overhead Projector). I am not too confident that too many future Quora members would even recognize what an OHP is! This was in 2001 or 2002 when most teachers discarded OHP and moved on to Powerpoint presentations, but this guy didn’t.
After displaying his “stuff” (no pun intended), he’d just ask us to copy everything that was written on screen. And that’s it. He expected us to stay silent and write, using pen and paper, whatever that was displayed on screen for 75 minutes at a stretch, two times a week. After a regular interval, he’d change the slides.
Funnily enough, his entire lecture (photocopy of his scribbles) was obtainable from a photocopy shop stationed near our campus. And he never changed the material. If you can grab a copy from a 4th year student, you could do well with it.
So the smart guys would buy that and pretend to stay busy and copy his writings while doing other stuff in the classroom.
On a rare occasion, he’d stop showing us the OHP and start some sort of discussion on the subject.
On a day like that, he tried explaining the difficult topic of government borrowing. Naturally, it was like a festival day for us, as well as people who were doing a major in Economics. One person asked, If the government is stealing from the people, why do they need to borrow from banks?” Another guy followed up with, “Why the government takes up money when they can’t even pay off the past debts?”
Question after question followed, and he couldn’t really cope with the pressure. Suddenly, he got very agitated and mentioned, “I cannot answer anymore of your questions. I am an economics adviser working for the government, and I am deeply connected with the policy making. Answering your questions puts me under a role conflict”.
And, the OHPs came back and stayed till the end of the semester.
My sixth grade teacher was in her 50’s, gray haired, very proper, self-assured, and exacting.
One day she made a statement that I knew to be incorrect. I immediately raised my hand and gleefully corrected her.
She looked right at me with a stern look in her eye and replied in an icy-cold manner, “I may be mistaken,” and, after a brief pause for emphasis, she continued, “but I am never wrong.”
I can hear those words ring in my ears fifty years later.
This actually happened to my brotherHe had a junior high English teacher (when we lived in Tucson, AZ) who kept asking him if he was part “white.” Kaiser was the most brilliant student she’d ever taught and she couldn’t accept the fact that he was ethnic Chinese, and not at least part white… he challenged her white supremacist view of the world. I believe the year was 1979…
I studied in Indias most premier institute – Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. I was attending a sort of advance mathematics lecture (MAL 110) in a highly packed Seminar Hall.
The grey haired professor was cruising through the lecture with singular focus on board. He was taking small break in between to explain to students, although his explanation where nothing more than blabbering to the class.
Suddenly, one student interjected – I didnt get the last point about Taylor series!
That innocent soul was expecting an answer, may be a standard response talk to me after the class, or in worst case a mild ridicule from the class. But it seems his imagination betrayed him that time.
Professor – Sit down. I cant help if you dont understand. I have to complete the course.
Now, this is ridiculous! A teacher is supposed to teach not race through some random course content which he decides.
That guy never asked a question in class again. He probably completed graduation with some 5 point GPA (out of 10).
I would like to share a story about Prof. Robert (Bob) Ternansky of UC San Diego. He is one of the best-rated and well-known professors of the Dept. of Chemistry and Biochemistry here. According to me too, he is one of the best professors I have met. He is very passionate towards teaching and has extraordinary ability to make the class enjoyable for both the smart and weak students. However he also has a reputation for being ultra-disciplinarian, arrogant and bad tempered. He would have done just as well if he had joined military!
I was Teaching Assistant for him for two courses. His exams are very hard and the grading is also super strict. (The exam averages are typically 30-35%.). So, in the final, he gives some bonus questions to make the students feel better. However, those are not just easy freebies too.
This time he gave a bonus question – What is unique about dodecahedrane?
(Actually dodecahedrane is a very beautiful molecule synthesized by Ternansky himself during his PhD.)
While grading, I found that someone wrote a perfectly chemically correct answer describing dodecahedrane as a highly symmetric Platonic hydrocarbon.
But the grading key strictly said that credits would be given if and only if someone wrote Dr. Bob made it.
I was still impressed by the answer and asked Prof. Ternansky if I could give any credit.
He gave a cunning smile and said: No credits if there is no mention of Dr Bob. This question was actually meant for satisfying my ego!!
Note: If you are reading this Dr. Bob, please don’t be offended. You are one of the best professors I know and I have learnt a lot from you. This story just shows a funnier side of you!
Itsthe eighth-grade version.
In middle-schoolEnglish, we were reading The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe. The teacher handed usthe packets and we began reading it out loud as a class.
At first, it wasgreat. Every stanza the same length, perfect rhythm, perfect rhyme scheme. Wegot to the bottom of the first page, and since there were only two or threelines, I assumed that, once the page was flipped, the rest of the stanza wouldbe on the second page. I turned the paper over. A new stanza began.
Huh, thats funny. That must have been a short stanza. Not sure why Poe would write it that way—not to mention that the punctuation seems somewhat off and there was virtually no transition between this stanza and the last. We kept reading the poem, and I found it to be very confusing overall. Something just didnt seem to add up. Oh, well. What do I know about poetry? Ill just have to figure out the meaning later.
Orso I thought. We were given an assignment for homework and I started to go overthe poem again, and the more I looked at it, the more I realized that itdidnt make sense at all. Remember the short stanza at the bottom of thefirst page? Well, I noticed that there was another short stanza a several pageslater. And if I put those two short stanzas together . . .
I rushed to thecomputer, did a Google search of The Raven, clicked on one of the results.And sure enough, my suspicions were confirmed.
The copy that myteacher gave us was completely out of order.
Not only that,but there were two stanzas that were omitted from my teachers handoutaltogether. And we had read through the whole thing out loud. In class. Withthe teacher. And she hadnt said a word.
Ibrought this issue up to her the following day, and her reasoning? Itsthe eighth-grade version.
Itwasnt a mistake that occurred in the copy center. It wasnt an error she madewhen copying and pasting the poem. The poem was like that because apparentlytheres a separate version of The Raven specifically designed for theeighth-grade honors English curriculum.
Um, no. Theresno eighth-grade version. Even if there were, it wouldnt be so jumbled and outof order that no one could understand it. The whole situation made me and myparents so angry that it still puts our entire family in a badmood whenever its brought up.
I hated Englishthat year.
Geography class 5th grade
Teaher: The river Nile originates in the Lake Mediterranean
(After a brief pause)
Me: Ummm… I think it originates in Lake Victoria and ends in the Mediterranean Sea.
Teacher(annoyed): Water flows from top to bottom, so the Nile River originates in the Mediterranean and ends in Lake Victoria. A river never runs from south to north…duh
I never asked any questions thereafter in her class.
A professor in Structural Engineering department during his introductory lecture: I will speak in Hindi because it echoes more when I speak in English.
In sixth grade, our math teacher was out sick and we had a substitute. He was an older man, very gentle, but clearly not much of an instructor.
At one point, he spoke and said pi was 3.41. Naturally, being bratty 12-year-olds, we all clamored to correct him. His whole manner changed immediately.
“You don’t tell your teacher he’s wrong!” he hollered. “Your teacher could tell you pi is the deep blue sea and you agree!” We all just looked at each other incredulously and kept our mouths shut for the rest of the class.
I had a history teacher who hated military history.
He tried to explain the defeat of British and French armies in WW2 during Battle of France.
He first dropped out that British army was included in the affair and then he explained the matter as such:
“After WWI the French built a massive defensive line called the Maginot Line so that they’d get a head start for the next great war of the trenches.
The only problem was that they forgot to build it all the way and then Germans simply went past it”
1) While the Maginot Line didn’t reach all the way north, it wasn’t really an issue. The combined doctrine of France and UK was that of a shield and a sword. The Maginot Line was their shield, the northern sector was their sword arm. The southern section of front would be kept by garrison troops while the best forces would be concentrated to the North along with the British army. This was a formidable force and according to von Tippelskirch etc. the northern sector actually had better defenses due to higher quality of troops combined with non-static field defenses that were ultimately superior to static concrete bunkers which proved to be far less effective than their planners hoped for:
2) The French and British never forgot about the northern sector. It was their strongest sector.
What really happened:
The Germans didn’t just “go around” the Maginot Line. The Allies made a blunder of historical proportions: they abandoned their dug-in positions in northern France and set marching into Belgium and Netherlands “to stop the Germans as far to the east as possible”.
While the Allied army was on the move they encountered three things:
#1 They encountered the tactical bombers of Luftwaffe that wreaked absolute havoc upon their marching columns of tightly packed troops. If the narrow roads caused massive confusion and chaos for Germans even without being bombed the effects were that much more severe for the Allies. In short the Allies woke up to the dawn of effective tactical air support and its effects on moving forces.
#2 Their main doctrine was based on first making contact with the enemy and then forming a line of battle in order to execute large scale operations much in the way of WWI. Essentially, they wanted to find the enemy, take their time to gather everyone into positions and then after waiting for all the troops to form up properly they’d think of what to do with the enemy. The Germans on the other hand had switched to Blitzkrieg, the initial contact would often be part of the actual offensive. They didn’t feel the need to first draw a line on the map and form everyone around it and advance as a line.
To further elaborate, the Allied doctrine was to enter the ring, shake hands, go back to your corner and talk to your coach, watch some videos of the other guy’s past fights and then get back to the center, touch the other guy’s glove and wait for the referee to shout “start!” German doctrine meant that you ran into the ring and then you ran into the opponent and immediately punched him in the face as hard as you could.
Essentially the Germans begin their battles by hitting hard and committing to the initial hit, hoping to punch through so they could push more forces through an opening in the enemy front while utilising armour and highly mobile motorised and mechanised infantry.
#3 Allied had spread most of their tanks to infantry units to support the infantry. This made much of their armor as slow as the infantry units. Germans created specialized tank units that would fight as concentrated armored formations supported by mechanized infantry that were able to keep up with them.
So all in all, Allied forces were shocked and partially crippled by unforeseen aerial attacks that they did not know to anticipate or take into account in their planning. These aerial attacks took place while the majority of the Allied army was on the move, out of cover and packed tightly on narrow roads.
Their already suffering formations were completely surprised by the rate at which battles developed and they were caught by surprise – they were still trying to move into formations and positions set for them by some grand plan while the enemy was already launching a full scale committed armored and mechanized assault upon them, penetrating their hastily prepared defenses that were made up of units that were in complete chaos with parts of some units mixed into the wrong units etc.
They really should have waited it out instead of set racing into Belgium and Netherlands.
But the Germans also never just walked around the Maginot Line. The whole episode in the north cost Germans 160,000 casualties and the Allies 360,000 casualties, reflecting the fact that Allies left heavily fortified positions and placed their best troops on a “platter” for the German tactical bombers and tanks.
Those numbers could have been reversed if the Germans were assaulting the best forces of Allies executing a defense in depth strategy with all of their armor and troops in carefully planned and heavily fortified positions.
The Allies were overly confident because they could match and often surpass German numbers in everything but aircraft. For instance, they had 50% more (1,000) tanks and 89% more (6,596) artillery.
Even with these ideal conditions Germans ended up losing 795 tanks of their total of 2,445. I really implore anyone to consider those casualties if the Allied artillery and tanks were dug-in in positions prepared over months with overlaying fields of fire, pre-determined artillery firing solutions and sectors etc. with all the appropriate anti-tank defenses such as anti-tank ditches, minefields and so.
Note: the same history teacher also claimed that WWI tanks each had just one machine gun and no cannons and refused to alter this view even after being shown Mark V
He also once noted (after coming under criticism for his countless mistakes) that “I do not care about military history and I am disgusted by all the military-fantasising!”
I personally don’t expect a history teacher to be excited about military history but if one is teaching military history subjects one might consider getting the facts right. I mean, he did go through the whole masters degree thing majoring in history at some university at some point which leaves the question of whether he got passed on too light grounds or if the university in question doesn’t really care for getting the facts right and accepts that you teach internet memes as official history.
IMHO teachers have a certain responsibility. Not really concerned about the subject you’re teaching is a lousy excuse.
Geography teacher explaining time zones:
Teacher: If a plane takes off at noon and travels at the speed of the planet rotation synchronized with the sun, the time zones will keep the time the same and teh plane will finally land at the same time after completing one full round over the Earth.
Me: Same time, the day after.
Teacher: No, same time.
Me: Yes, one day later… after traveling 24 hours.
Teacher: No, exactly the same time of the same day
Me: So time wouldnt pass?
Me: Ok, so the plane will crash with itself at the landing time?
Me: …. ok ….
There was no point in trying to convince her that time travelling hadnt still been invented… Next year we didnt see her at school, it was rumored that she was interned in a neuropsychiatric hospital.
When I was in 5th grade, my Social Studies teacher was teaching us about the Indi… Native Americans, and told us that awas the same thing as a . Being a big fan of Native American culture, and having just read a book about that very thing, I was very insistent that no, in fact, a travois was something that might be used to carry a teepee, but was not, in fact, the same thing as a teepee. She had no actual sources to back her up, just the worksheet she herself had made.
I didn’t know, at that young age, how to handle an authority figure telling me something that I knew to be false, and she didn’t know how to handle a 10-year-old basically calling her a liar. So, she sent me to the principal’s office, and they called my mother to come get me. There was some discussion, and we went home. I was obviously pretty upset, as was my mother.
And then, we looked it up — in the two books I had, and the encyclopedia. I was right, of course.
The next day, we went in and met with that teacher, and the principal, and showed her our sources. She apologized, reluctantly. I stayed in her class and finished out the year, but the relationship was strained, to say the least.
Point is, teachers aren’t always right, and it’s OK for them to admit that possibility. That exact scenario wouldn’t happen today, because someone’s just going to whip out their phone and go to Wikipedia, but that attitude is still common, and shows up on issues that can’t easily be Googled.
My daughter was particularly smart. Her 3rd grade teacher really pissed me off.
The teacher had a conference with me to tell me my daughter, Melinda, wasn’t applying herself. I was confused, and asked the teacher if there was a problem with her not completing her work. She answered, no Melinda was completing her assignments and she completes everything before the other students finish. I asked the teacher how then, was she not applying herself and the teacher responded with;
“Well she doesn’t take the initiative to help the other students to complete their work, when she has completed hers”.
I was shocked!
This was in my sophomore year in college during a programming lab session (Each course which involved programming would have a corresponding lab session so that everyone could code together). We had this teacher whose bookish knowledge of C++ was beyond the charts but who hadn’t done any real programming in his life.
Since, we had just started learning C++, our task was to type out the examples from the text and learn the language. I started experimenting and got stuck at a point and had no clue why my code wasn’t working.
Teacher: “Who asked you to experiment? Just type out the code as it is from the text”.Me: “I will, but can you tell me why am I getting this error”Teacher: Looks at my screen for a couple of minutes, brows frowned and then looks back at me. “Just do as I say, don’t act smart.” Needless to say, I did the opposite of what he asked me to and tried many ways to make my code run and I did. I showed it to him and asked him how it was running now as I just made some random changes to which he replied,” Don’t ask stupid questions. This is the magic of C++” #facepalm
On the night of my graduation my high school principal told my father that it was a shame I wasn’t a boy instead of a girl.
He meant it as a compliment, that I’d have fewer obstacles in my path if I were male. Which was undoubtedly correct. He was a nice man. Just … older.