Afternoon InqueeryEducationPseudosciencePsychology

AI: Worst Science Teacher

I am attending a community college, taking my general degree requirements before transferring to a University for my BS. This summer I am taking Intro to Psychology class (3 credits, 6 weeks, pretty intensive). I was excited about my class – one of my partners is in the Psych field so I was hoping we’d have new things to talk about and I’d have an easy tutor. Plus I find all sciences interesting, even though my specific interest is in planetary science (I intend to major in astronomy and minor in geology but that depends on where I transfer to).

Much to my disappointment, my instructor is not a science based teacher. In the two weeks (four sessions, 1/3 of our class time) we have had so far he has spent about a third of it off topic. In the time he has been teaching us anything he has made it clear that he believes in ESP and psychics, and he recommended that we read The Secret, and he spent 45 minutes of class time ranting about how any use of alcohol is incredibly dangerous and will turn all people into blithering idiots with rotten livers. There is more, but you see what I mean – scientific consensus means nothing at all to this instructor, and I don’t trust anything he says at this point.

I need nothing more or less than some people to share my pain with, as I complete the next four weeks of this awful class.

Who was the worst science teacher you have ever had? What did they teacher? Were they boring and confusing, or blatantly went against scientific consensus? How did you get through painfully awful classes?

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Benny Vimes

Benny Vimes

Benny Vimes is a queer polyamorous transman, curious skeptic, and enthusiastic seeker of knowledge. He's an undergraduate student in his 30's and loves teaching people about alternative sexuality and gender issues.


  1. June 26, 2012 at 3:23 pm —

    i’ve been fortunate to have had really good science teachers on the whole, but damn. your instructor sounds horrendous. anyone who speaks highly of The Secret wins a ticket to my instant and unmitigated contempt.

  2. June 26, 2012 at 6:32 pm —

    my worst was also a college psych class. at the school in question, behaviorists had taken over the psych department and gotten psych 101 included in almost every major. the class was ‘taught’ by a ta who had taken it the semester before, only time we heard anything of the nominal professor was when we were forced to waste a class session listening to his crappy jazz band, and the main text was literally a comic book (featuring ‘behaviorman’).

  3. June 27, 2012 at 10:34 am —

    Wow! I’ve been lucky, I guess. I can’t think of any bad professors, at least not of that quality. Maybe a bit dry, is all. I’m curious to hear more and other people’s stories, though.

  4. June 27, 2012 at 11:07 am —

    My 9th grade science teacher was a real piece of work. He never liked to be questioned, and didn’t want me looking at things in a different way. I questioned him a lot, and once or twice really got under his skin. He actually commented to my mother that I was a difficult student, and I should be evaluated.

    During one lab we were required to do the typical frog disection, I explained quite clearly that I had no intention of doing it because I felt there was nothing to be learned from doing it myself based on what we were required to do. (Cut it open, find the organs) After much debate, I just refused to do it. (I think I was “sick” that day.) I spent the day doing research and looking up other disection guides. I did great on the lab exam because I had seen many more examples than my classmates.

    I have always felt that I became a scientist inspite of the early education that I recieved. I was lucky, my natural courisity was enough to overcome this push for uniformity.

  5. June 27, 2012 at 12:18 pm —

    One of my GCSE (ages 14-16) double science teachers almost put me off science completely. I was lucky to have extra-curricular activities that stopped me giving it up. He had this bizarre vendetta against a guy in our class that took up most of his “teaching” time. He thought the way to make people stop messing in his lessons was to sit the three most disruptive pupils in a group next to me. He also didn’t understand how rounding numbers works (really).

    To top it off he called me “young lady”. *squirm*

  6. June 27, 2012 at 4:56 pm —

    I had the misfortune to attend parochial schools until higher ed, so you can imagine my science instruction. The worst was my biology/earth science teacher in high school, who also taught physics. He was a climate change denier, a creationist, and VERY pro-life. Here’s just a few anecdotes:

    *We had a small unit on why abortion and IVF are evil.
    *He gave us a laundry list of reasons why evolution is bullshit, but never explained the theory to us.
    *He told us that recycling is more wasteful than dumping trash in landfills
    *He told that clouds create more CO2 than all of Earth’s factories, and therefore pollution is bullshit.

    It’s probably no surprise that I hated science until I got to college. Now I love science, but having a horrible foundation makes it really difficult for me to study on a university level. Thanks a fuck lot, Mr Wels.

  7. June 28, 2012 at 2:44 am —

    Undoubtably one of my A-Level physics teachers, not that he didn’t know the science, but he was useless as an educator (once did the same demonstration 3 times I can only assume because he’d forgotten he’d done it) We used to just sit at the back talking (and this was 3 of us predicted As so not bad/unintelligent kids) and had to essentially teach ourselves at home. Luckily our other teacher was the head of department and very good.

  8. June 28, 2012 at 2:55 pm —

    I had a chemistry teacher in first year university who, though he knew his subject, was really really boring. only once did he try to relate an amusing annecdote about a lab mistake involving sodium that was basically ‘i misused sodium in the lab and something funny happened we who were there laughed.’

    other than that i must say i had some very good science teachers who really tried to make it engaging. one of them even introduced me to skepticism.

  9. June 28, 2012 at 6:51 pm —

    The worst science teacher I’ve heard of is not one I had but one my sister’s dumb creationist friend had. She had a test where the students had to explain the theory of evolution, and instead he wrote about how he’s a creationist and why he doesn’t believe in evolution. She gave him an A because she “admires his convictions.”

    No, that’s not appropriate for a science class. Even in a class like history or government where you can express your opinions, you still have to back that shit up. Something tells me he didn’t back that up with anything resembling actual science, and if the teacher fell for that she doesn’t know enough science to teach high school and should be fired.

    I did have a lot of meh science teachers who pussy-footed around the issue of evolution by saying stuff like “You don’t have to believe it but you have to understand it,” even though anyone who isn’t an idiot – including me at that age – knew that to truly understand it was to believe in it. But none that were as over-the-top horrible as that teacher. Most of my really shitty teachers were in other subjects for some reason.

  10. June 29, 2012 at 8:16 pm —

    My worst science teacher was my Biology professor I’ve just finished with in my second year at community college. We had a week and a half worth of discussion about why creationism was a legitimate ‘theory’ and there was a short answer section on our final about it. I refused to answer that part (other than a short note about how creationism was idiotic) and as a result ended up with a B on the final.

    I still ended up with an A in the class, though if I hadn’t, I would have contested the grade. A group of students in my class and I protested his curriculum to the the school, but we were shrugged off.

    That subject was included in such a nonchalant way in a supposedly advanced Biology class. It was disgusting and I’m putting off the rest of my science classes until I have enough credits to transfer to a four-year school.

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