Monday, March 21, 2011

Vowel, What's That?

Teacher:  What is the probability of choosing a vowel from the letters "MATHEMATICS?

Student 1:  What is a vowel?

Teacher (to the entire class):  Vowels are A E I O U.

Student 2:   What is a vowel?

Teacher:  A E I O U

Student 3:  What is a vowel?

Teacher:   VOWELS ARE A E I O U.

But I am accountable for their passing the regents.

(The students who asked were American born.)


untilnextstop said...

haha. Sad but true: I think native-born Americans have a poorer grasp of grammatical constructs than us first-generation immigrants who grew up in the States and had to learn English as a second language.

Case in point: I'm now living in El Salvador and I take Spanish classes with 3 other Americans. All of them, including one Spanish minor from college, have trouble understanding basic Spanish tenses that are actually grammatical forms that are common to all romance languages -- such as the past participle! "he tomado" means "I have taken" ... exactly like in English! But, they don't get it because they've never had to learn / process the English constructs consciously or explicitly.

Unknown said...

Yep, and Newsweek is shocked that 38% of the population failed their U.S. Citizenship quiz.....Do they not understand these same people are in classes everyday, and ALL the information on the quiz has been covered in my ( and most other ) U.S. Government classes in this nation.
I am sorry folks, there are a bunch of idiots in this country.

Ricochet said...

I am seeing such passivity that I am really getting worried.

Anonymous said...

I hope that this is creative writing, and not a real story.

Pissedoffteacher said...

Real, if you saw my class you would swear it was a figment of someone's imagination.

Anonymous said...

I addressed the same question during Saturday tutoring! I too couldn't believe what I had to repeat to the class! I'm done!

Anonymous said...

When we went to whole language, I would also sneak phonic lessons in.
My classes knew their vowels, but would still tell me North America was a consonant.

Next time ask them if they ever watched Wheel of Fortune.

Anonymous said...

When I do this problem with my sixth graders I actually work vowels into the mini-lesson portion. It gets a few puzzled comments, but then my students usually give me some latitude. Even with all that I KNOW I will see a hand and hear "Misssta? Whats a Vow-el?" I am glad to know that it is not just me. I did a similar problem with the days of the week and had a young man try to convince me (on a Friday no less) that the weekend was three days long; Friday counts as a weekend day I guess.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible that the kids were asking about what they are in terms of what they do, what makes them different from other letters, or why should they bother knowing them (aside from the math problem posed)? I made the mistake several times during my time teaching of not understanding the question being asked, a lot of the time because their English was so weak, but often times, like in this case, the real question that they were asking did not occur to me.