Monday, December 27, 2010

Aaron vs. The Teacher That Told Me I Was Wrong When I Knew I Was Right

This story will sometime make it into my presentation. I think it is a great example, but normally I will think of it during the Q & A segment at the end, but maybe I should use it every time.

Anyway, this story was relived last week when I drove through my old neighborhood and saw my old elementary school and the teacher's house that this story is about.

It was 4th grade and it was sometime near the start of the school year. There was a test that I think was a common sense or rational guesses test. In this test there was a question and here it is: How hot is the normal bath? Is it A. 72 degrees B. 99 degrees or C. 139 degrees.

When I saw this question I knew the answer. I knew it because there was a time that I was fixated on temperatures and I would put a thermometer in every bath I did. The temps ranged from 99-104 so I knew the answer so I marked, with confidence, that the answer was 99.

The next day I thought nothing of the previous day's test. When the test was returned though I had one wrong and it was the bath question. I instantly put my hand up and asked how this was wrong. "Aaron, everyone knows that room and bath temperature is 72 degrees." Other students chimed in on this and I was the only one in the class who put 99 as an answer.

I loved my 4th grade teacher, but she did have a habit of grading tests without seeing the test key. This was one of those times and I could not convince her that I was right. In class I even said that the neighborhood pool closed anytime the pool got under 75 degrees. This fact fell on deaf ears.

So what to do? I knew I was right and I would not stand for this mark off my score. After school I decided to take up my cause by riding my bicycle. How would this help? Well, my teacher was a mini-marathon runner and I knew her route around the outer orbit of the neighborhood. Since I knew she ran counter-clockwise around the neighborhood I would ride clockwise. If this didn't work I would ride my bike near her house until I found her.

I got my exercise that evening but as I turned around the Northwest corner of the neighborhood I came across her. I passed her and then slowly turned around and slowly rode up beside her. I tried to act as nonchalantly as possible but I probably was as predictable as the sunrise.

After a couple seconds I couldn't take it anymore so I asked, "About that test?" She responded with, "Aaron, everyone knows it's 72 degrees." I knew room temp was, but not bath. I explained this logic and the fact that the swimming pool closed at 75 and eventually, and probably just to get me to leave her alone to her running, she agreed to check the test key in the morning.

The next morning I took my test that had the one answer marked wrong and I confidently, and in a cocky manner, walked to the teacher's desk and slowly placed my test on her desk. Out came the infamous red pen and she unmarked the 95 and unmarked the "X" on the question and the much sought after "100" was put at the top of the test.

Now here is where my story turns Aspergerish. Most students would leave it at that and take pride in the score and moral victory. Myself? I knew all the other students in the class had false marks on the test so I asked the teacher, "Are you going to take points off of all the other kids tests because they said 72?"

I insisted and insisted that since the other students got it wrong they should be marked for it, but the other students that heard this, and the teacher thought this would be a nasty move. This frustrated me as they were wrong, but they got credit for it anyway.

In my presentations I am able to explain my emotions a bit better than I think I have done on here. This was a thorn in my side during this ordeal because I KNEW I was right. I can not tolerate being right and being told I am wrong. Did I take it a bit far wanting all the other students being deducted points for their wrong answers? Maybe, but they were wrong, weren't they?


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  2. A great story! My son has Asperger's also, and I believe, as his mother, I also have a hint of it as well. I worked at a bank and took a class called Principles in Banking. The instuctor asked the class was it OK to open a new account without taking the customers indentification. I said NO! She disagreed! This was 20 years ago, and it still bugs me to this day. lol

  3. Since I soon am also going to be a teacher of OT students, the answer to your question is YES!

    If you are a teacher, unless you have a super honest student pointing out that you mistakenly gave him/her more points than he/she deserved, you are basically asking for trouble if you realize your mistake(s) and mark everyone down in trying to rectify the error AFTER you handed out the test papers back to them. Do you want a host of students coming to you at the end of an academic term coming to you and say, "Teacher, because of what you did, now I am getting an A- instead of an A." or "Teacher, because of what you did, now I am getting a D instead of a C."