Bad example

Sometimes, motivating students with real-world problems is a mistake.

About Joanne


  1. When I was in Jr HIgh our teacher taught us this mnemonic to remember how to calculate sine, cosine, etc


    I still remember it 25 years later. It worked!

  2. Oscar Had A Heap Of Apples works too.

  3. Roy W. Wright says:

    Bahaha, Ozzy.

  4. Walter Wallis says:

    I refuse to tell how I remember the resister color code.

  5. Walter, my husband tells me the same thing.

  6. I think there’s a signficant difference in using an mnemonic that may be inappropriate, and designing story problems around criminal acts… After all, a mnemonic is what it is… You’re somewhat restricted in what you can do to change it to somehting G-rated… (Especially if you want to retain it’s “easy-to-remember-ness”…)

    However, there’s no reason to give inmates recipes for creating drugs when quizzing them on math… The only reason I could come up with is that inmates may have interest in drug manufacturing… Of course, half the point of prisons is to rehabilitate the prisoners, and that would include breaking them of their interest in said activities…

    But it’s a prison… What do you do..? I would be much more concerned if this were a high school…

  7. Hm.

    The strings on the violin are God Damn All Engineers.

    Is there a better one? I don’t like being so negative.

    Now the bass clef. All Cows Eat Grass is pretty tame, but I sometimes slip when saying Good Boys Don’t Fool Around.

    We’re too politically correct to learn A Red Indian Thought He May Eat Tomatoes In Church. Tom’s rat wasn’t quite so memorable.

  8. Mark Odell says:

    Walter Wallis wrote: I refuse to tell how I remember the resister color code.

    Oh, I don’t.

    BAD ======= BLACK
    BOYS ====== BROWN
    RAPE ====== RED
    OUR ======= ORANGE
    YOUNG ===== YELLOW
    GIRLS ===== GREEN
    BUT ======= BLUE
    GIVES ===== GREY

    Mr. Wallis, by any chance did you learn this as “BLACK boys,” etc.?

  9. Air Force tech school had a long, politically correct rhyme for the resistor color code. (This was 1978, so PC has been around longer than most of you think.) It included the full names of the colors, so you didn’t have to remember which B’s were Black, Brown, and Blue, but it was so long no one could remember it. The “Bad boys” one was discreetly spread between students.

  10. PJ/Maryland says:

    I’m of two minds about this. The teacher was obviously trying to make the math questions more interesting (and probably not telling anyone anything they didn’t already know; after all, you can find anything on the Internet).

    On the other hand, talking about crack and crystal meth in a prison-sanctioned class is a bit much. But the prison doesn’t seem to have over-reacted, just reprimanded the teacher.

    BTW, what’s with all the misspellings in the article? Ammonia has two Ms, and “Sudafedrine” seems to be some odd mangling of “Sudafed” and its active ingredient “Pseudoephedrine”. I’m assuming these errors were in the actual math problems, so maybe the prison should be checking their teachers’ spelling abilities, too. Though the article says “rocks of cocaine”, which I think is also incorrect. (Cocaine is a powder, right? It’s crack that comes in rocks.)

    In fact, if you Google on “Sudafedrine”, 5 [of 25] hits relate to this same AP story, which was also picked up by USA Today and Newsday, and appears in Portuguese in a Brazilian paper here. They all give the answer to the first question, which is 738.5 rocks; apparently Joanne was trying to keep this info from us by linking to the Canoe story…

    P.S. I’m not recommending anyone try that method of making crystal meth. For all I know, the guy made up the whole process, or deliberately lied about the ingredients or their ratios.

  11. Wacky Hermit says:

    I tell my trig and calculus classes a sordid little story to help them remember their reciprocal trig identities, how Sine and his wife Cosine were secretly having affairs with Cosecant and her husband Secant respectively, so that Secant has “won over” the Cosine… etc…. but Tangent and Cotangent were faithful. Of course, my classes are all adults.

  12. It might be fun to teach the convicts a formula for meth that makes nothing but a long-lasting stink…

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