I found myself in a conversation with a man who insisted that female students get better grades all the way up through high school. This, he explained, was because what REALLY determines a student’s grade is whether the teacher “likes them.”
You see, female teachers hate boys and give preferential treatment to girls. Male teachers also give preferential treatment to girls because they are attracted to them and therefore everything they do looks more appealing.
He offered this as the reason he was forced to drop out of high school—because all his teachers “failed him” because they did not like him.
As a woman with a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education, I felt qualified to give him many reasons why this was deeply flawed as a hypothesis. I pointed out that teachers take entire classes on how to write tests (and grade authentically), and how to allow for different learning styles, as well as being required to take a course that examines theory of education (which, in part, discusses how demographics and prejudice can affect the student/teacher relationship, bringing awareness to its existence partially so teachers can avoid reinforcing problematic situations).
My conversation partner clung to his anecdotal evidence, insisting that none of his teachers ever liked him and lo and behold he always got bad grades too. I figured I’d counter with anecdotal evidence myself (since facts hadn’t worked), and told him about a teacher I’d had who didn’t like me but nevertheless was forced to give me good grades because of my performance in his class.
This teacher and I had a personality conflict right from the beginning, because he had a “rule” that students taking his music classes for the first time could not be in his advanced class. I made an enemy of him when I argued that I should be an exception because I had taken a similar introductory class last year at my old school, but was promoted halfway through the year to their most advanced class after excelling in the program and getting the highest scores in my school at the All State auditions. The teacher nevertheless forced me to take the beginners’ course (“that or nothing”), tried to block me from auditioning that year for the All-State chorus (“I only give that info to my advanced classes, so if you want to register you’re on your own”), and was always short with me despite being personable with others, like he just wanted me out of his hair. Despite that, he did assign me nearly every solo I auditioned for since it was clear I was more than qualified, and I received the highest possible marks in the class every semester. Finishing up my anecdote, I told my conversation partner that this teacher might not have liked me, but he didn’t punish me academically because of it, and that teachers who do otherwise are the exception, not the rule.
“Sorry to have to break it to you, honey,” he said—I swear he said “honey”!—“but that teacher DID like you.”
When I reminded him that he had no proof of that, he sputtered, “In situations like this, I’m right 60% of the time.”
(No, I don’t know either.)
Somehow the conversation devolved from there into him insisting that it was “bad grammar” to start a sentence with a coordinating conjunction (despite the fact that a good tenth of the sentences in the most celebrated English works of fiction do so, and despite the fact that the Chicago Manual of Style laughs at the notion of there being any such rule). Pointing this out and reminding him that I’ve been an editor for more than ten years didn’t stop him from trying to “explain” to me why coordinating conjunctions “can’t” start sentences if you think about it LOGICALLY. So I gave up.