Funny story


As I was posting in another thread, I just remembered a funny story that recently happened and I thought I’d share because I got a kick out of it and you might too.

So my son, Devlin, who is a Junior this year, is super smart and is interested in going into Physics in college, which I’ve previously discussed here. The thing is, though, that all of the knowledge he currently has all been self-taught because he’s not taken a Physics class yet. He’s in a rigorous program at his school (all AP BC courses), but Physics isn’t offered until the Senior year.

So anyway, last summer, he was old enough to get a summer job and he elected to be a tutor instead of doing what I did (flipping burgers) when I was his age. He’s done quite well and has regular kids he now tutors and it’s a great way for him to save money. So, one of his regulars referred him to other parents looking for a tutor for their daughter, another Junior, who was in another school and taking Physics this year. Devlin said OK.

He went there and told the girl and her parents that he’d help her for free because he hasn’t officially taken Physics yet so doesn’t want to charge since he’s not “officially” educated in the topic. Her parents sat there as Devlin was able to answer every question she had (without even looking at her textbooks), and blew the parents away so much that they insisted on not only paying him for this session but also asked Devlin if he could tutor their daughter twice per week from now on, on Physics, a subject he’s still not taken officially and won’t take until next year.


Erin and I got a kick out of that. I wish I were 1/10th as smart as my kids are, when I was their ages.


Wow, so impressive! :grinning:

I liked the theoretical physics class I took in highschool, but once I got to college and had to take a couple of calculus-based physics classes I had a BAD time haha.

I think it just points to how much I belong in a biology based program though… I’m great at memorization and figuring out the flow of “how things work”, as long as I don’t have to do too much hard math :stuck_out_tongue:

My respect to anyone who’s into that type of thing though, very cool!


Calculus has been tough for him this year, but his B+ was the best grade in the class so he and the other students agree that the teacher is just insanely hard. The next highest grade in his class (and these are all smart kids…this is “AP Calculus BC”) was a C+. I took calculus in college, got an A (although I’m not sure how), and tossed it out of my memory banks as soon as the course ended.


I don’t understand, as a teacher, how you can teach an entire class full of people and have no one get an A. Because to me, you’re not doing your job if no one is capable of getting an A.

( I am putting my trashcan lid hat on now so when the fire of public ire and opinion rains down upon my head, I won’t be injured.)


I agree. We’ve talked to the teacher and he says he likes to push and challenge the kids, but to us it’s a massive injustice. Besides Calculus, Devlin has straight A’s. Second year in a row where the only B was in this teachers Calculus course.

He does things like add more to a test than he possibly knows can be completed within the time limit. No kid ever finishes his tests (especially, as you know, the sheer number of steps involved in each calculus problem). We’ve brought it up to the Principal as well but this teach seems to still continue giving too much and pushing the kids too hard. The good thing, though, is that kids who have taken this particular teachers courses who have gone on to graduate college, they all have wonderful things to say about this teacher and appreciate how hard they were pushed because they said after taking this teachers classes, college was easy.


Have you considered talking to the superintendent?

Although, I am heartened to read that the former students have found college easy because of the experience that they had in his class.

Still, I think that it is possible to push the crap out of people and have incredibly high expectations, and reward them in the end with a grade that reflects their abilities and work in the course.

EH and I went to the same high school and we took the same AP English classes, in sophomore and junior year. That was over 20 years ago, and those teachers are fondly remembered at least once a month in our home. We really believe that the fact they pushed us very hard to learn to write and read and dissect literature helped both of us as adults.


I just talked to Devlin and here were his words.

“The seniors and past graduates all say that although he screws the GPA, he ensures you get a “5” on the AP exam.” These AP exams are graded by college professors and the course is college credit."

So, he says he doesn’t mind so much the lowering of the GPA (because his B+ still works out to a 4.5 GPA at this level of course) because the amount of knowledge they get enables them to make 5’s on the Exam and the Seniors and past graduates all say they are happy to sacrifice that small lowering of the GPA to ensure they get 5’s on that AP exam.


Okay, I feel better. I just know that kids are scrapping for every little point of GPA, and how much it unfortunately matters to get into your desired university at this point. But I’m glad that the AP tests override that tiny deficit. :slight_smile:


People who graduate from the program that he is in come back and repeat time after time how easy college is after they’ve gone through this school. We couldn’t be happier for the most part. But it is tough…it’s always tough when your kids are taking subjects you’re no longer able to even help them with.


how many of the kids go on to take the AP test and what fraction score 5s, 4s or 3s? To me, that’s the most relevant indicator of whether he’s teaching well or not. He may be a tough teacher and rough on their GPA, but to me that’s secondary to learning the material really well.

The teachers I hated in college for being too tough or dragging my GPA down are the ones I now appreciate for pushing me past my comfort level and to the next level of understanding.


Yep, that’s the sentiment of the students above him. He’s ridiculously hard, but his instruction yields 5’s on the AP exam for a large majority of his students. So they’re OK to sacrifice the GPA. Again, for this level course, it’s still over a 4.0 as compared to basic courses.


Honestly that is all that really matters. Getting into school with a 4.0 (unweighted) is quite over emphasized, when in actuality if you have a rocking GPA i.e. 3.9 unweighted or above and knock the crap out of the SAT or ACT, and take a bunch of AP’s and get 4’s and 5’s you will be just fine. And as the kids say prepared for college which is the most important.

I say this because we have a friend whose son took a less than challenging curriculum, got a 4.0, went to college and got creamed, and had to drop out of engineering to take a business curriculum because they weren’t prepared. Better to be prepared than to look like a prima donna and fail.


There’s this one, notorious professor in my department who actually has a policy against giving out As. An A-, maybe, if you bend over backward and go far beyond the (already very difficult) requirements for every possible project of this class, but realistically you might do all that and still get a B+ if your technical writing isn’t impeccable by his very specific standards. I think only one person has actually ever received an A- from him. And everyone in the department has a minimum of 2 (consecutive) classes with him, where every project you have a different partner to work with… it was the worst 6 months of my life, easily :grin:

For high school kids though, absolutely… pretty awful to grade so harshly. I think if you have a decent shot at passing the AP test you deserve an A in high school calculus, personally.


Funny story. In college I had to take premed physics,which was calculus based. I had never taken a calculus course before.

So I purchased the calculus book the school was using, and I just kept a little ahead of what they were doing in physics.

I didn’t get an A, but the B+ was good enough I guess.

How I ever made it through college so fast still mystefies me.


Too much emphasis is put on grades when it should be put into learning.

My college organic chemistry teacher was famous for his final exam. 20 questions. He told you what he wanted to end up with, and each question was a reaction to get there. Miss the eighteenth reaction, you could not possibly get the right answer. He called it “the railroad test”.

I got the answer and got an A, but I sure learned a lot in his class.