We had planned to not write about this one, dearly hoping it would quietly fade away. That was never going to happen, however, and, having made The Washington Post and the like, there’s now no purpose in not writing about it.

A few days ago, an American schoolteacher went through what was apparently her standard trigonometry routine, donning a fake Indian headdress and chanting SOHCAHTOA as a war dance, or whatever. Yes, the schoolteacher is from another era and, quite possibly, another planet. This year, however, a Native American kid in the class filmed her and then gave permission for the video to be posted on Instagram, where it appeared complete with a campaign speech, and school name and contacts. The snowball then did what snowballs do, the teacher has been suspended and so forth.

It is interesting times when a member of the Hitlerjugend is almost universally portrayed as the victim.

29 Replies to “SOCK-IT-TO-YA”

  1. Ideally, the student should have gone to the principal to ask that the teacher be made aware of offensive nature of her presentation. Teachers are human, make mistakes, and need to learn from them.

      1. I agree that it would be better to just go to the teacher first. As far as forgetting it, times change. I was confronted quite angrily by a woman after a workshop presentation about 25 years ago when I stupidly repeated Martin Gardner’s example of choosing women from a harem to teach combinations. I’m glad that she came to me rather than going to the conference leadership. If she hadn’t confronted me, I might have repeated the error.

        1. So … a workshop on concubinatorials. The angry woman obviously had her head buried in the sand (of the Middle East variety).

          While we’re at it, let’s ban TV shows whose lead female character calls the lead male character Master … What an error that show was. I wonder if the angry woman wrote letters of complaint to the television networks.

  2. Here is my question (not expecting an answer btw): if the routine was “standard” why was the teacher only disciplined once a video was made public?

    Also, what is meant by “campaign speech” in this instance? Was the teacher’s job sacrificed to get someone else elected?

    1. It was reported that the teacher has done the routine for about ten years. I would guess that the teacher was only disciplined now because no one had formally complained before. “Campaign speech” was my term for the Instagram poster launching a campaign to have the teacher tarred and feathered.

  3. I assume the teacher was filmed by the student without giving informed consent to the student …? In which case an illegal act has occurred, as opposed to a politically incorrect act.

      1. Immoral is an understatement.
        A good lawyer would make mincemeat of the school, the Instagram campaign (and the kid). For instance:
        1) The teacher was filmed without informed consent.
        2) There is evidence that the teacher has performed this act for at least 10 years (it was remarked upon in a 2012 Yearbook) – it beggars belief that the school was unaware of it. The teacher is a victim. If anyone is to be punished, it should be the school, not the teacher. (Personal opinion: The school and its decision makers are gutless cowards trying to cover their own arses at the expense of the teacher).
        3) The Instagram account may have got consent from the kid, but it did not get consent from the teacher. Furthermore, the Instagram account has deliberately incited hatred and vilification.
        4) What the teacher did was an historically accurate representation, whether or not all those woke wanker agitators like it or not. The whole
        “actions were marginalizing, especially to Native Americans. School counselors [sic] will work with students “to restore their trust in our team,”” and
        “the teacher’s actions [are] “incredibly harmful to Native youth.””
        is so much over-the-top histrionics from people and groups with agendas.

        Yes, there are details to be filled in. But I have no doubt that a good lawyer would rip to shreds the school, the Instagram campaign, and the kid.

        By the way, I haven’t heard too many people sticking up for poor old Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, who was assimilated a while ago by Homo sapiens (whose descendants are leading this Instagram witch-hunt). Not woke enough, I guess.

          1. True. We’re talking about a country where everyone has the legal right to keep and bear arms, protected by the second amendment, and shoot people when they feel like it.

  4. That was horrendous. No one who behaves like that in a classroom deserves to be allowed to teach. Whoever has been encouraging her to keep on doing it over the years is complicit too. It was inappropriate on so many levels. If the offensive racial-caricature element were removed, it would still not be okay, even in front of kindergarten kids, where some silly dancing and chanting may sometimes be called for.

    1. Mel, as I said, it was a correctable mistake. It could have been handled quietly. If every teacher was fired for making mistakes, we wouldn’t have any teachers. We all make ’em.
      As it is, principals have ways of getting rid of teachers that need to need to leave a school.
      This teacher may be worth saving.

      1. Why handle something quietly (and much more effectively) when you can publicly crucify someone and be seen as a powerful agent for cultural change? These are the woke times we live in, Marc.

        I hope the teacher sues and wins. Not because I agree with what she did, but because I disagree with how it was handled.

    2. I think the treatment of indigenous peoples by white settlers was deplorable. But are you saying that we can have re-enactments of some historical events but not others? Who gets to decide? Where’s the thin edge of the wedge? You don’t get to pick and choose the parts of history you’d like to keep and the parts you want deleted. Are you saying that what happened was a “racial-caricature” that has *no* basis in historical fact?

      Can you give clear, factual, cogent, rational arguments why the teacher should lose her job over this? Why her life should be destroyed, and all done in the media spotlight? Or does your emotional outrage at this “horrendous” act by someone who never “deserves to be allowed to teach” get in the way?

      None of the ‘outraged’ and ‘offended’ people quoted in the media could. The ‘best’ ‘reason’ given was to say how sad that this is what’s taught about Native Americans in the classroom. So the teacher gets hanged because of discontent with the broader curriculum.

      As a previous poster quite rightly remarked, we all make mistakes. I’ll bet you’ve made plenty. Or are you perfect? ‘Perfect’ people are the biggest hypocrites of all. Always happy to kill a fly with an elephant gun instead of a swatter. Under the holier-than-thou banner of indignant outrage that “The fly deserved it”.

      The teacher is, at worst, guilty of poor taste and political incorrectness. And you want to destroy that teachers life (and probably her family) for this? I find that woke-at-all-costs attitude “horrendous”. This whole thing is a storm in a teacup agitated by people with personal agendas who want to make an example of this teacher and damn the consequences to her life.

      And the gutless school goes into ‘damage control’ by crucifying this teacher simply to appease these agitators.

      Are you outraged on behalf Homo sapiens neanderthalensis (gone but not forgotten), who was assimilated a while ago by Homo sapiens ?

      On a related note, this is what happens when teachers get too carried away with using bullshit teaching techniques advocated by bullshit educational experts. Less theatrics and more drill would have worked out better for everyone (except for those woke wankers, who would have then needed to look elsewhere for their scape goat).

      1. >this is what happens when teachers get too carried away with using bullshit teaching techniques advocated by bullshit educational experts. Less theatrics and more drill would have worked out better for everyone

        Yes. I really don’t understand how acting like an Indian would have helped kids understand trigonometry better. And do you really need any sort of help to remember an acronym like SOHCAHTOA?

        Also, a bit of unrelated rant: I don’t like the way common core does arithmetic. The fact is, forcing everybody to compute 37 – 23 like (37 – 23 = 17 -3 = 14) is totally useless. I do arithmetic that way in my head, but explicitly forcing everybody to think like that would be harmful. Most people feel more comfortable writing everything down and doing computations the standard way, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

        1. Yep, given her poor teaching technique it made perfect sense to wallop her from West Coast to East Coast and back again. The only real question is whether should she have been executed on the spot.

      1. Yes it was! What’s been done to this teacher is very horrendous.

        Oh … You mean what the teacher did wasn’t horrendous. Of course it wasn’t. But that won’t stop these faux woke wankers with their histrionic hyperbole from being judge, jury and executioner.

  5. Quite a novel way of incorporating indigenous perspectives into the mathematics curriculum… Perhaps the only ‘crime’ that this teacher committed was that of naivety? Altogether, a storm in a wigwam, but a contrived and overblown storm that will damage/destroy a person’s career. And that is the real crime.

    1. Sir H, it is obviously insanely overblown but I don’t think it is contrived. This is the way a sizeable proportion of America (and Australia) thinks about things.

  6. A gentle reminder, that everyone should play nice. Commenters should be attacking arguments, not each other. Of course there is an exception for me: people can say pretty much whatever they want about me, and that is fine.

    1. If only there \displaystyle were rational arguments that could be ‘attacked’, rather than over-blown, histrionic hyperbole. The only thing I saw that came close to an argument were statements along the lines of how sad that this is all that’s taught about Native Americans in the classroom. Which is an argument against something completely different, although it seems that the teacher is to blame for curriculum faults. They’d probably try to blame her for COVID-19 (if they believed it existed, that is).

      What sane teacher would use any ATSI elaboration from the ACARA Daft curriculum in their classroom when a single naive and innocent misstep could lead to this?? I might have to stop role-playing the Salem witch trials when teaching Archimedes Principle. Much safer to run naked around the classroom shouting Eureka. (Another good reason why phones aren’t allowed in the classroom anymore).

      1. Thanks JF for mentioning this (I was thinking about this very story in relation to such elaborations today but couldn’t find a succinct way of wording it without revealing just how little I know about a lot of things…)

        I doubt this will be a reason for teachers to not attempt the ATSI links (lack of knowledge will be the main reason, as with many things such as what it means for two fractions to be equal…) but it will give fuel to those who may want such matters completely excluded from the curriculum for reasons other than education.

        Or it will all disappear when the video goes viral when taken out of context. There is a predictable behavior with a lot of these matters.

        1. Hi RF. I agree, but personally I think a teacher would need to be very careful in their attempt at the ATSI links. Very, very careful. Because the woke brigade is ever-vigilant for new crusades where they can try and crucify some poor bastard. And don’t expect any support from the school (or the Union), which would probably grovel like a yellow-bellowed, lily-livered candy-ass in a cowardly, snivelling and contemptible attempt to appease the woke brigade. And imagine the VIT getting it’s grubby little hands on it …

          The way I see it, there are several good reasons NOT to attempt the current ACARA ATSI elaborations, including:

          1) A single innocent or naive mis-step and the woke brigade is on you like a pit bull on a poodle.

          2) Lack of knowledge. This is like walking into a minefield without a mine detector. See 1) …

          3) Most of the ATSI links are forced and contrived bullshit. Very few are authentic. I don’t teach contrived bullshit, unless I call it out as contrived bullshit from the get-go (as I do with many of the VCAA exam questions). Now, imagine using a typical ACARA required ATSI link and making an off-the-cuff remark that it was bullshit … (For those who can’t join the dots, see 1))

          Maybe ACARA can sign a legally binding document saying that it accepts full legal liability for how the ATSI elaborations are used by every teacher. Or … it can go back to the drawing and do the job properly.

          1. I can imagine the auditor who dares mention that the school didn’t appropriately deal with said elaborations…

            One problem I have with what you call the “woke brigade” is that I’m never quite sure what it is they actually want from schools.

            Perhaps, fundamentally, neither are they.

            1. Would schools \displaystyle really be audited for compliance with ACARA prescribed ATSI elaborations …? I don’t think they would. But if they were, you’d do what the accountants do – have two sets of books.

              Actually, I think a very good argument could be made that the elaborations were not done in mathematics due to concern that they might be interpreted as demeaning or insulting to such cultures. A little bit of “blow-back woke”. But if ACARA could kindly sign this legal waiver …

              As for the “woke brigade” – what they want (or what they want to create, more precisely) is the latest cause célèbre. And what you can be certain of is that they are totally ignorant of anything outside of their narrow-minded little woke bubble.

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