Thursday, November 17, 2011

Long Suffering Spouse doesn't think this is funny

(Today's installment of Pardon My Planet, by Vic Lee, which
appears locally in the Chicago Sun-Times -- although this image
was obtained from the Chicago Tribune "Comics Kingdom.")

I showed this to my wife first thing this morning, when she asked me why I had just guffawed.

Note to those who still use the expression "LOL": When people really do laugh out loud, and the cause of their amusement is not immediately apparent to those in the vicinity, people in the vicinity are apt to become concerned. Or scared.

Long Suffering Spouse doesn't think this is funny because she believes some teachers actually think like the gentleman in the cartoon above. On the other hand, I think the cartoon is funny... because I also believe that far too many teachers actually think like the the gentleman in the cartoon above.

Note, too, that the cartoon is set inside a teachers' lounge.

The cartoon reminded me of a passage I'd seen in an article in the current Wilson Quarterly ("Teach to the Test?" by Richard P. Phelps, Autumn 2011, pp. 38-42). From Phelps' article (p. 40):
... John J. Cannell, a medical resident working in rural Flat Top, West Virginia, read about the claims of local school officials that their children scored above the average on standardized tests. Skeptical, he investigated further and ultimately discovered that every state that administered nationally normed tests made the same claim, a statistical impossibility.
In other words, administrators claimed that, out of all the children who took the tests, more than half were above average. This was dubbed, for reasons obvious to those familiar with Garrison Kellior's work, the "Lake Wobegon Effect." In other words, as Mark Twain apparently did not say, "Figures do not lie, but liars figure."

But, now, I'm starting to explain why I think something is funny. Bitterly funny. Laugh-so-I-don't-get-red-in-the-face-angry funny.

And the surest way to kill a joke is to explain it. So I'll stop now. I'll save the education reform lecture for another day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's not funny. There is nothing wrong with having more than half the kids higher than the average.

For example, a class has nine kids and a hamster. Not wanting to leave the hamster out, everyone takes the test. The test is so easy everyone gets 10 out of 10 except the hamster who gets zero. The average score is nine and 90% got higher than the average. Everyone's a winner - I can believe this is happening in schools!

The joke underlines our incompetence at math not the teacher's.