A parable of misteaching.

Teacher: “Now Johnny, how many in your family?”

Johnny: “One, two.” (That’s Mum and Dad. I wonder if she means Gran and Pop too?) Um, do you want me to count Gran and Pop? (They live with us at home.)

Teacher: No just your family, your parents and sisters and brothers!

Johnny: “Oh.” (But dad calls Uncle Benny Bro. and he sometimes come to stay, does this mean he is a brother? I think she means just Mum’s children, which means I don’t count Milly and Josie.) “Well that’s one two and …” (Now do I start with Paul the oldest brother, after all he is older than Gertrude my oldest sister, or do I start with me? Come to think of it do I give myself a number and if so which number?) “Hang on, ah … one two and ….” (Now if I ask the teacher if I count Paul, or me, or Gertrude; the teacher will call me stupid; I don’t know why, but that is what will happen.)

Teacher: “Come on what comes after two?”

Johnny: (Oh so they want to know about my, European style, brothers and sisters.) “Well there is Mum and Dad and my sisters and brothers, so …”

Teacher: (I thought so, another typical case of primitive thinking, this child is unable to count past two.) “Look Johnny tell me who is in your family at home.”

Johnny: (Ah, at last, this is easy.) “Well there’s Mum and Dad and Gran and Pop and Paul and Gertrude and Me and Jenny and Kerry and little Bill.”

Teacher: (At last I have an opportunity to teach something.) “Right now leave out Gran and Pop and tell me how many people there are?”

Johnny: (Ah, Oh, this sounds like a ‘take away’; I think I take two away from some number, but I don’t know what.) “Um one, two and … (leave out Gran and Pop) Paul…” Grabs two fingers and then one more. (This finger is for Paul, and I am holding one, two, three fingers.)

Teacher: Hurry up!

Johnny: “Well I know it is more than two, hang on a bit.” Starts again. “One, two … three…” tentatively.

Teacher: “Look just tell me their names again.”

Johnny: ‘Mum and Dad and Gran and Pop and Paul and Gertrude and Me and Jenny and Kerry and little Bill.”

Teacher: who has counted each name. “I told you to leave Gran and Pop out, so that is eight isn’t it?”

Johnny: (Great the teacher has done it for me. You learn some thing odd from these educated teachers every day. I can’t see what use it is knowing that your family has a number ‘eight’; after all, if you only counted seven you wouldn’t know who is missing.)

Teacher: (He still doesn’t get it at all.) Now how many sisters do you have?

Johnny: (Is the teacher stupid or something? Haven’t I already told them about Gertrude, Jenny and Kerry, twice?) “Um, I have already told you how many sisters I have.” Teacher: “No you haven’t. Don’t get rude with me boy or I will punish you again.” (Typical of these stupid people who I am supposed to teach.)

Return to the index here.