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What if a teacher told your DC she was wrong, when really, she was right?

post #1 of 129
Thread Starter 
If your child's teacher told your child he/she was wrong about something when your child was right, what would you do? Would you just tell your child he/she was right and leave it, or would you want your child to let the teacher know, too?

The answer probably depends for you on the scenario, so here's one that happened today.

DD's (age 6, in 2nd grade) class was discussing matter. The teacher asked the class what matter was and the students said things like, "What's the matter?" DD said "energy." I don't exactly know what the teacher said in response, but DD said, "The teacher told me I was wrong."

My DD knows a lot more than I do, but had I heard her response, I probably would have thought she was wrong, too. Apparently DD read a science book that explained (in simple terms) E=MC2, and DD remembered that it said that matter was energy and energy was matter.

I was planning on having DD bring in her book tomorrow . . .not to prove the teacher wrong and DD right, but more so that the teacher sees where DD is coming from and maybe have a cool book for discussion at some point. Is that wrong? Would that be really offensive to a teacher? It wouldn't be to me but I fear I have poor judgment in this . . .I am used people knowing more than I!
post #2 of 129
I probably wouldn't send the book in or have DD say anything to the teacher. I'm in school right now and currently dealing with an instructor who seems to have a big grudge against me because I've corrected/questioned some of the things she has said. It's not a fun situation to be in and I wouldn't want your DD's teacher to hold a grudge against her for the whole school year.
post #3 of 129
I'd send the book in with her.

In 1st grade, don't quite remember how this lead up - but a teacher mentioned that money (US currency) was paper. I told her it was mostly cotton. She told me I was wrong.

The next day in class, she apologized to me, and said she went home and looked it up.

If your daughters teacher is a quality teacher, it'll just roll off her back, and will be a 'learning experience' for everyone.
post #4 of 129
Quote:
"What's the matter?"
Wow, you know that question has no real answer since matter must both take up space and have mass, and for quantum reasons the notion of taking up space has to be ill-defined. Matter is best discussed in it parts, enegry, particals and mass.

Matter is everything that is composed of elementary fermions.
post #5 of 129
Matter is not the same as energy. The teacher was correct. Physics study energy, while chemistry studies matter.

Matter has four forms: solid, gas, liquid, or plasma. Matter stores energy, but it's not energy. You can tell how much space matter takes up (volume), or how much "matter" it has (finding mass). You can't do that with energy.

Energy, on the other hand, is ability/capacity to do work, i.e. ability to change existing conditions. Examples of energy would be electricity, light, sound, etc. You can't measure energy in terms of volume or mass, as you are able to do with matter... kwim?

These concepts are connected, but they are not the same.
post #6 of 129
Its been my experience that people in authority positions do not take kindly to being questioned, let alone being proven wrong. But I would take the lead from my dd, and support her in whatever she wanted to do.
post #7 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by MonkeyPrincess View Post
Its been my experience that people in authority positions do not take kindly to being questioned, let alone being proven wrong.

I'd just validate my dd and explore the idea more at home.
That's my vote, too. I'd probably subvert the whole system by telling DC that there are often answers for teachers and answers for life.
post #8 of 129
I think the real issue is in using the labels "right" and "wrong" for answers that are oversimplifications of complex subjects. Since I really don't want to get into realativity and other aspects of theoretical physics I only have and vague knowledge of, I'm going to use Katfka's example since I happen to have worked in a papermaking studio for many years.

First off the teacher was absolutely correct when she said US currency is made from paper, though it isn't run of the mill ordinary paper, it is paper. Katfka might be correct in say it is "mostly cotton," but isn't 100 percent accurate. Also what Katfka said was not a correction of what the teacher had said, it was an elaboration, one that would have been hard to fully address in an elementary school class.

Many fine quality papers are made of mostly or even fully of cotton. However, the actual formulation of US currency is a closely guarded secret, and saying it is mostly cotton is a meer speculation by those who put it out there as "fact." IMO (which is a pretty darn good one for reasons I won't bore y'all with) linen is actually a larger part of the formula than cotton.


Basically I'm saying that while your DD wasn't "wrong" asying matter is energy, without getting into some extremely complex theoretical physics isn't exactly accurate. Your DD heard her teach say she was "wrong," but is that what her teacher actually said? Or, did her teacher actually say something more along the lines of "I just want a simple answer" or "well, it's more complicated than that."
post #9 of 129
Having gone through a degree in Biology as well as a degree in elementary ed...

It's appalling to me how little (most) elementary teachers really understand about the science they teach. She probably really doesn't know what e=mc2 means... other than that it was somehow related to Einstein (if that). Generally people who are "good at science" and become teachers head toward high school science teaching rather than elementary ed. In my time observing, I heard sooooo many scientific fallacies taught as fact by elementary teachers. Definitely tell your daughter to take it with a grain of salt.

That said... pp are right that authority figures tend not to take well to being questioned. I think it would depend on how well I knew the teacher whether I could mention it or not. I don't think I'd send my kid into that possible wasp nest, though.
post #10 of 129
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing on both ends of this one... but that's grade two for you.

6 is usually a really literal age, so this is a tough one. But I think you could probably explain that context is important too, and in the context of the lesson the teacher was teaching, the teacher was right. Then she could take the book into class in that spirit.

I hope it goes well.
post #11 of 129
E=MC2 doesn't mean that energy equals matter.

It means that energy equals.....matter times the speed of light squared. (It's not just E=M. It's E=MC2.)

But "speed of light squared" is a tough concept for a 6 yo, so I can see how she got mixed up.
post #12 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by supervee View Post
That's my vote, too. I'd probably subvert the whole system by telling DC that there are often answers for teachers and answers for life.

Yikes! Why would you want to set your child up to distrust teachers if you have chosen to send them out of the home for school? maybe distrust is not quite right, but jeez. I knwo there are bad teachers out there, but there are many many more good ones busting their butts for classes of kids everyday.


As a teacher, I always invite kids to let me know if they think something I said or taught was not exactly right, or to share more information. Could the teacher have said something like "That's not quite what I was looking for." or something like that, and all your daughter took from it was teacher siad she was wrong?

Matter is not energy though, from my understanding (I teach Language arts though, not Science) Matter and Energy make up everything in the universe, and the amount of energy IN matter detemines the form it takes (solid, liquid, gas, plasma)
http://web.jjay.cuny.edu/~acarpi/NSC/2-matter.htm

Also, the complexity of science understandings is built upon each year by grade level. The items taught at a simple level in K, 1st, 2nd, and so on, will be added to each year. A full explanation will not always occur, and in the elementary grades, where a teacher is expected to have cross curricular knowledge, they really may not fully understand more complex levels because if it is not their interest and they do not have to teach it, really why should they?

Have you requested a copy of the standards for 2nd grade for your state? This will help you to know the level of understanding expected at your child's grade level.
post #13 of 129
Thread Starter 
I will make absolutely no attempt to debate science with anyone.

However, my daughter DID read in her Magic School Bus book (obviously not the ultimate reference book for an adult . . .but let's remember, she is 6), and I quote:
Quote:
E=mc2 explains that matter and energy are really forms of the same thing. Matter can change to energy, and energy can change to matter.
So, she read this. She answers the question "What is matter?" based on this information. According to her (I asked her again . . .what did the teacher say, did she just say "Well, almost" or something like that) and she said:

The teacher said I was wrong-- in front of the whole class.

I thought that was interesting that DD noted that her teacher said it in front of the whole class.
post #14 of 129
"Forms" of the same thing. But NOT "the same thing." Big difference. Matter can change to energy. But it isn't energy already. And energy can change to matter. But it isn't matter already.

If the teacher said "almost," that's not saying "you're wrong." It's saying, "you're almost right!"
post #15 of 129
PS. Sounds like a gender issue. Girls have a really hard time being corrected in school, much more so than boys.
post #16 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by Katfka View Post
I'd send the book in with her.

In 1st grade, don't quite remember how this lead up - but a teacher mentioned that money (US currency) was paper. I told her it was mostly cotton. She told me I was wrong.

The next day in class, she apologized to me, and said she went home and looked it up.

If your daughters teacher is a quality teacher, it'll just roll off her back, and will be a 'learning experience' for everyone.
This exactly.
post #17 of 129
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by A&A View Post
"Forms" of the same thing. But NOT "the same thing." Big difference. Matter can change to energy. But it isn't energy already.

If the teacher said "almost," that's not saying "you're wrong." It's saying, "you're almost right!"
She did NOT (according to DD) say something like "almost." I think that's my biggest issue, if it's true. And for all I know, DD may have been able to explain that difference (a form of vs. actually being the same) if she had been pressed further.

Recently I told her I wanted to get a generator, and explained (incorrectly) that it was to create energy. She said, "Mom, you can't create energy-- or destroy it!" I am sure I'll get 15 more replies saying how wrong my 6 yo was for making that statement, but I was astonished that she would say that.
post #18 of 129
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by A&A View Post
PS. Sounds like a gender issue. Girls have a really hard time being corrected in school, much more so than boys.
She is hesitant to speak up as it is in class. She feels really out of place in 2nd grade (first year skipping). Apparently the teacher says she is doing well academically, but I know DD is really having a hard time socially. It's very upsetting.
post #19 of 129
Last year my dd brought home a grammar sheet that had been marked incorrectly. I sent an email to the teacher pointing out the error. I was as polite as I could be, included evidence to support my assertion, and phrased it in terms of, "I don't want my dd and the other students to get confused." The teacher responded very positively. It turned out that the answer key to the sheet was wrong and she was just going over it quickly in class and trusted the answer key even though she was pretty sure it was wrong too. She made a point to go back over the lesson with the whole class and make sure everyone understood the correct answer.

So that is how I respond when the teacher tells my dc she is wrong when she is actually right. However, your case is much more complicated than grammar. Without knowing both your dd's and the teacher's exact words, it is hard to say who is "right".

Matter and energy are two different forms of the same thing. So saying they are the same is like saying ice and water are the same. Sort of yes and sort of no. It depends mostly on whether you are choosing to focus on what makes them different or what makes them the same. I suspect it never crossed the teacher's mind that your dc was actually saying energy and matter were two different forms of the same thing. Still, she shouldn't have said flat out that your dd was "wrong" IMO.

If it were me, I would probably send an email to the teacher and take the approach that she must have misunderstood (you could even suggest that your dc might not have expressed herself clearly). Explain what your dc was getting at and ask her to acknowledge to your dc that what she was trying to get at was, in fact, correct, though she might not have said it completely correctly, just so that you are all the some page (or something like that). I should also note that this response choice is probably rare. My DH, for example, would just let it go -- just confirm that dc is correct and not care what the teacher says.

Good luck and please let us know what you decide and how it turns out. You obviously have a very bright little girl!
post #20 of 129
Please speak to the teacher about what she actually said instead of what your child remembers her saying. At 6 yo your child may not remember the conversation exactly. If the teacher did embarrass your child it needs to be brought to her attention. Please do not dismiss the teacher or her ability to teach until you have the chance to talk to her.
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