"You need to be less ignorant"

(66 Posts)
GooseyLoosey Mon 08-Jul-13 10:38:42

Help me get some perspective on a teacher saying this to my 9 year old dd.

Dd told the teacher an exciting fact she had just discovered, teacher said "that's not right". Dd replied "I'm sure it is - I just read it in XYZ book". Teacher said "You're wrong. You need to be less ignorant".

Aside from the fact that dd was infact quite right, how bad do you think this comment is from a teacher?

AuntieStella Mon 08-Jul-13 10:42:40

If DD is right, the teacher needs to apologise.

If DD is wrong, then not so bad. Dispelling ignorance is one of the roles of schooling.

< idly wonders what the fact was, and whether it's the sort of thing that does get misreported in some books >

GooseyLoosey Mon 08-Jul-13 10:43:57

Dd was absolutely right - don't want to reveal fact though in case it makes us too recogniseable.

morethanpotatoprints Mon 08-Jul-13 10:46:15

Absolutely terrible.
Maybe the fact was against conventional thinking and was part of a topic covered within nc and teacher needs them to learn her fact, not the true one?
Maybe the teacher is ignorant and doesn't know what ignorant means.
Whatever the reason it can't be justified saying this to a child, surely.

We had a similar incidence when teacher told my dd aged 8 that she had something wrong in a subject she was G&T and more knowledgeable than the teacher. grin

Tell your dd she is right and teacher wrong, if she is to continue at the school also tell dd that sometimes teachers make mistakes too. Then go to school and verify what teacher said, chances are they will deny and say something different.

Personally, ignorant is ignorant - I don't quite know if there are degrees ...

Strange thing for a teacher to say ...

Smartieaddict Mon 08-Jul-13 10:48:28

I wouldn't be very happy with that comment. It sounds quite childish, and unpleasant. I would expect that kind of comment from another child, having a petty moment, but not from an adult who's job is to educate.

GooseyLoosey Mon 08-Jul-13 10:49:32

Not part of the NC - was something which came up on a trip out that dd just happened to have read about. Don't think it really matters whether dd was right or not either.

I want to tell the head, just not sure if I am over-reacting or not.

simpson Mon 08-Jul-13 11:56:46

I think it's a horrible thing to say regardless of whether your DD was correct or not.

However if you report it to the HT, will the teacher just deny saying it or say your DD misheard?

maja00 Mon 08-Jul-13 11:59:00

Slightly odd use of the word ignorant - I'd wonder if the teacher has misunderstood what it means confused

GooseyLoosey Mon 08-Jul-13 12:20:49

No idea whether the teacher knew what it meant or not. However, dd was in no doubt that the comment was not intended to be kind. Was also said in front of lots of other children.

Periwinkle007 Mon 08-Jul-13 12:23:45

I don't think there is any call for a teacher to speak to a child like that regardless of who was wrong or right.

Branleuse Mon 08-Jul-13 12:26:08

weird use of the word ignorant.

maybe shes ignorant of what it means

GooseyLoosey Mon 08-Jul-13 12:30:32

I'm not sure how wierd the use of the word is. I think my grandmother could have said something similar and would have meant not only a lack of knowledge but a wilful lack of awareness of something - a not caring about the correct answer. Not sure how well I am explaining this, but I wonder if the word has additional connotations in some regions?

FadedSapphire Mon 08-Jul-13 12:33:11

To me ignorant is a horrible word.
Mind you may be because used to know someone who when cross used to call people 'pig ignorant'- not nice...

piprabbit Mon 08-Jul-13 12:34:39

A teacher told my 7yo that there was no such thing as a geode and that she must be making it up, in spite of DD being able say exactly what a geode is.

We didn't confront the teacher, but reassured DD that she was quite correct and that just because the teacher wasn't interested in geology, didn't give the teacher the right to be rude to DD.

mothersanonymous Mon 08-Jul-13 12:42:39

That would be a very rude (in fact ignorant) thing for a teacher to say even if your DD was wrong. The fact that she was correct makes it even worse. I don't know your school/head/relationship so don't know whether this is worth raising.

Periwinkle007 Mon 08-Jul-13 12:44:42

I would have been cross about the geode piprabbit (I am a geologist!)

Alibabaandthe40nappies Mon 08-Jul-13 12:48:14

I think it was really rude of the teacher, regardless of whether your DD was right or not.

I don't think it would be OTT to talk to the head - aren't schools supposed to be encouraging children to find things out for themselves and expand their knowledge?

GooseyLoosey Mon 08-Jul-13 13:21:41

This particular school is supposed to pride itself on encouraging pupils to pursue knowledge as far as they can and I too thought that the comment did not sit that well with that particular sentiment.

I am however starting to wonder if "ignorant" has different connotations for different people. To me it is a quite horrible term, but maybe not so much for others?

maja00 Mon 08-Jul-13 13:26:00

Ignorant is the opposite of knowledgable really isn't it? A lack of awareness or knowledge.

It just seems to be an odd way to respond to someone telling you a fact, even if you think it is incorrect. Ignorance is not knowing things, willful ignorance is deliberately choosing not to know things - it just doesn't really work as a response to someone who obviously does (or is trying) to know things.

I'm not sure what the teacher was trying to say to your DD - that she needs to ensure she's correct? She needs to read more widely? confused

It's not a nice or constructive thing to say either way though.

finallyasilverlining Mon 08-Jul-13 13:28:29

shock faded I hope that's not me blush I say that sometimes to my DH but that's because he really is 'pig ignorant', some teachers seem to forget who they are speaking too when saying these things. Just imagine, A Dc catching you out on something you may know very little about how embarrassing wink

I'm afraid there will always be one OP (whether that's a teacher or not), trust me my Ds is 4 years into school life and I have heard some absolute belters! I have often thought about approaching the head but it would get ridiculous if we were to pursue every time this happens. Just reassure your Dd. Sit on it for a few days and if your still narked or if your Dd is still upset have a word.

finallyasilverlining Mon 08-Jul-13 13:29:37

P.s have just googled a Geode grin

MrsBodger Mon 08-Jul-13 13:31:52

What a weird thing to say. Do you have the XYZ book? If so, I'd go in to see the teacher asap to show him/her and say that you want dd's teacher to realise that dd isn't 'ignorant'.

I think it's important for children to know that you'll back them up when adults are in the wrong.

HomageToCannelloni Mon 08-Jul-13 13:36:14

Lacking knowledge or awareness in general; uneducated or unsophisticated.
Lacking knowledge, information, or awareness about something in particular: "ignorant of astronomy".

If she meant the first definition I'd be fuming, if she meant the latter then less so. I do think, as with a lot of language, it depends on the intention.
I have talked to my 8 year old about mouthing off when ignorant, in the second context of those two, because we were having issues with her making up 'facts' and getting pissed off when we wouldn't accept them. We warned her about ignorance and how it could mean she was taken less seriously when pronouncing on other topics she WAS knowledgeable about. Is it possible your dd does the same in class? (She may not do it at home.)

GooseyLoosey Mon 08-Jul-13 13:40:19

Dd wanted to take the book into school this morning to prove to the teacher that she was right but I wasn't sure that that was the right thing to do. I think if the teacher was annoyed enough to respond to her in this way in the first place, dd proving her point is like adding salt to the wound.

To me, the way it was said, must mean more than a lack of knowledge.

maja00 Mon 08-Jul-13 13:43:47

What do you think the teacher meant then?

MrsBodger Mon 08-Jul-13 13:44:55

No you're right not to let your dd take the book in. But I do think you should - it makes your point but without being confrontational. Unless you want to be confrontational?

Lancelottie Mon 08-Jul-13 13:46:30

Could she have misheard the teacher, as it does seem a really odd word to pick?

If this had been DS correcting a teacher at that age, the phrase in question would probably have been 'need to be less impudent'...

Yes, plenty of people currently seem to use 'ignorant' to mean 'rude'. Odd, isn't it?

WhatWillSantaBring Mon 08-Jul-13 13:48:27

What the teacher could have said is "you need to be less trusting of what you read" - which is a true and valuable lesson. Books, the internet and EVEN TEACHERS get it wrong sometimes. << I'm looking at you, Mr Weiss, even if it was in 1988>>

Its an important lesson to learn (particularly the bit about teachers). Also important to learn is how to respond when people in authority (e.g. teachers) get it wrong.

But I don't think what your DD's teacher said was particularly pleasant or constructive, and is probably worth your DD writing an essay for the teacher with some other sources to back up why she is in the right, and the teacher was "ignorant"!! <<disclaimer: don't follow my advice. I'm a smart arse and constantly got told off by teachers for being one>>

juule Mon 08-Jul-13 13:50:43

Had your dd interrupted the teacher when telling her the fact?
Did the teacher think your dd was ignorant (bad-mannered) for interrupting?
Something like that?
What was the conversation before and after what you describe?

maja00 Mon 08-Jul-13 13:52:09

Yes, maybe the teacher thinks ignorant means rude or bad-mannered? I've seen people use ignorant to mean literally someone was ignoring them.

GooseyLoosey Mon 08-Jul-13 13:53:35

It's interesting to get other perspectives. To me, this sounds like a really quite horrible thing to say but I guess that is because it is simply not a word that I would use. To others, it seems not to be so bad.

If the word was being used to mean "rude", I still don't think what was said was appropriate because it is not rude to maintain what you know to be correct. I would do that as an adult and the context here was not contradicting the teacher in a lesson, but a casual comment on a school trip.

GooseyLoosey Mon 08-Jul-13 13:54:50

No - dd didn't interupt the teacher. Dd started the conversation by telling the teacher her interesting fact. The teacher then told dd she was wrong.

WhatWillSantaBring Mon 08-Jul-13 13:55:04

x-posts with goosey and mrsbodger - its a tricky one, because it still annoys me to this day that I let myself be bullied by an ignorant teacher, and I believe it is important to learn how to challenge people in positions of authority when you have a reasonable and honestly held belief that they're wrong. Problem is, I've never learnt how to do this without pissing that person off.

Perhaps DD could ask the teacher (in private) to explain in more detail how the teacher can be right and the book wrong. Its a legitimate question to ask. Maybe the book is wrong? There is a lesson for your DD to learn (and the teacher should pick up on this) on the veracity of different sources, and how even multiple sources doesnt' make something correct.

maja00 Mon 08-Jul-13 13:58:05

I don't think anyone is disagreeing that it wasn't a nice thing to say (and it doesn't even make much sense in the context) but it's probably not worth making a fuss about. I'd agree with your DD privately that teachers aren't always right but also help her to let it go.

GooseyLoosey Mon 08-Jul-13 14:00:15

I still remember being told I was wrong once at school - more than 30 years ago. It still needles me as I most definitely was not wrong. I think that may be part of the reason I feel a need to actively support dd here.

Dd is absolutely right in what she said. The teacher responded with a commonly held, but totally inaccurate misconception. No problem with that, but I don't like the complete refusal to acknowledge that dd could be right and calling her ignorant when she insisted that she was.

angusandelspethsthistlewhistle Mon 08-Jul-13 14:02:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

GooseyLoosey Mon 08-Jul-13 14:07:09

Not sure where they are from, but I agree that used in this context it means more than a lack of knowledge. It is the only way it makes sense. However, I think that that makes it even worse. How can it be rude to say that you are sure you are right? I certainly would as an adult and would not simply accept someone giving me the correct information. Can it really be the case that we expect children to do that? I do accept that in some contexts discretion is the better part of valour, but not when it is chit chat on a school trip.

maja00 Mon 08-Jul-13 14:11:39

I would sometimes just let it go if someone was wrong - my boss or my MIL maybe. It's not a bad lesson to learn that sometimes to smooth social interactions it isn't appropriate to insist that you are right about something (or that being right isn't always the most important thing).

GooseyLoosey Mon 08-Jul-13 14:16:51

I see what you are saying - not really thought of it in those terms. However, I do think that because dd had no choice but to let it go as the teacher is in a position of authority, it puts a greater obligation on the teacher not to abuse that position by insisting they are right and then insulting the child.

Lancelottie Mon 08-Jul-13 14:25:22

How do you find this teacher generally? DD had one who was such a bloody disaster that eventually I complained to the school (amongst other things, she would slap down interesting things the children brought up as 'wrong and stupid', and scold them for cheek if they argued).

Another would sometimes tell the children that they'd got something wrong, but if they could argue their case, she would admit it with good grace and say 'how interesting, people must have done more research since I last looked it up!'

GooseyLoosey Mon 08-Jul-13 14:45:01

Think this teacher is a bit like that. It is actually the music teacher rather than a general classroom teacher. Dd is not at all musical so I wonder if there is some background there.

adeucalione Mon 08-Jul-13 15:39:24

I also think it's an odd choice of word in that context.

Might she have said 'arrogant' if your DD was being a bit showy offy?

Or something like 'we seem to be ignorant of the facts here', which would make more sense.

If the conversation was exactly as your DD described then it is an unpleasant way to talk to a child and I would make time to talk to the teacher about it.

PickleFish Mon 08-Jul-13 17:33:10

my first thought was 'arrogant', too. Not sure I'd like a teacher saying it to a child in quite that way, though, but it might have been that she had a point - some children can be really smart-alecky, get one over on the teacher, prove them wrong, make them look stupid, etc, and they can have a certain tone in their voice that conveys that. Not that your daughter necessarily did, of course, but maybe something made the teacher think that she might, just in the way she said it, or based on some history of their interactions, or poor word choice on your daughter's part, or whatever. Or the teacher had had loads of people doing similar already, and one more potential interaction like that was just enough to tip her over the edge?

I once had a teacher who was talking about the word 'miscellaneous' and how we could write it on our jotters, though she would have to think about how to spell it. I piped up "I'll tell you how to spell it" - when what I meant was 'I'll go look it up in the dictionary for you, in order to be helpful'. I got seriously snapped at, with the teacher clearly thinking I was trying to show I was cleverer than she was, etc. I wasn't intending that at all!! As it happens, I was an excellent speller for my age, and probably could have spelled some word she didn't know, but I really truly wasn't trying to show off at all. I can see now, though, how it sounded like it - and in several other situations, where I might well have known more than someone, but didn't express it in a way that made it clear I was still deferring to them in some way. That can be an important lesson for children to learn, especially those who do know lots of weird/random things that someone else might now - how to put that across without pissing the other person off, however 'right' you might be. Learning to let someone 'save face', if you will, or just respecting their feelings. I was too enthusiastic about wanting to share things I knew!

Lancelottie Mon 08-Jul-13 17:37:56

PickleFish, DD has just had on her school report 'Best to let your new teachers get to know you before you start pulling them up on their spelling mistakes'.

I think we have some Emotional Literacy work to do over the summer. Far more use than spelling practice, in her case.

cansu Mon 08-Jul-13 19:12:26

Maybe she is confusing it with rude or know it all. Perhaps the way your dd spoke to the teacher seemed rude and that is the reason for the response? I would not however be wasting this much energy on this. Speaking to the head is overkill to me.

Notcontent Mon 08-Jul-13 23:19:00

I agree that the teacher must have meant "arrogant" - which is a pretty nasty thing to say to a child anyway...
But proves that the teacher is in fact ignorant!
I have noticed that lots of people, for some strange reason, use the word ignorant when they mean arrogant...

Clary Mon 08-Jul-13 23:30:23

Where are you OP? Where I am from (east mids) "ignorant" means sort of rude rather than knowing nothing.

As in "Not inviting me to the barbecue was a bit ignorant." Mind you I am not sure it helps, still a bit brusque of the teacher, but maybe they felt yr DD was being rude/pushy??? clutching at straws here.

Can I add tho that sometimes as a teacher you open your mouth and wish you hadn't? Or I do anyway. I told a reasonably bright 13yo the other day who didn't now what the word "excursion" meant that they should read a greater more different books which was perhaps a bit rude of me.

Clary Mon 08-Jul-13 23:30:55

Oh sorry I see lots of other people have said the same thing!

colditz Mon 08-Jul-13 23:34:01

The point of going to school is to become less ignorant, and it is the teachers job to ensure this. If she has ignorant children in her class, she's not doing her job.

cansu Tue 09-Jul-13 07:37:43

Yes cold it's because all ignorance, selfishness and any other lack of skill or fault can be removed by the one teacher that year. What a strange comment! one might also say that parents have some part to play in teaching their child.

MirandaWest Tue 09-Jul-13 07:48:54

I think the meaning of the word ignorant seems to be changing or at least expanding. To mean it means lacking in knowledge about a certain area. And so colditz's post makes complete sense as a teacher should be helping to expand knowledge.

Other people use the word ignorant to mean rude etc often talking about being ignored rather than how I use the word ignorant and I would agree that parents should be teaching that.

I do try and expand my children's knowledge as well of course smile

PickleFish Tue 09-Jul-13 08:56:25

and if it was 'arrogant' that was intended, it's not necessarily the teacher that got it wrong. It could equally be a child who misheard and reported it wrongly, especially if it was an unfamiliar word.

GooseyLoosey Tue 09-Jul-13 09:55:22

Thanks all.

I'm 100% sure dd got the word right.

I could well believe that the teacher meant arrogant. However, if that was the case, I still think it was completely inappropriate. She only said she thought she was right once and then backed down and as said before, this was not in the context of a lesson where she was contradicting the teacher.

If I had been having this conversation with another adult and they had responded to me in this way, I would have thought that they were being breathtakingly rude. I think this means that, for me at least, the comment remains inappropriate.

adeucalione Tue 09-Jul-13 12:50:01

I think that, regardless of the word used,and regardless of whether the child was indeed displaying ignorance or arrogance, it was an unkind thing to say to a pupil, who would obviously have felt the criticism very keenly.

But teachers do obviously have thousands of interactions with children every week, and would be the first to admit that they are only human and sometimes get it wrong.

BabiesAreLikeBuses Tue 09-Jul-13 13:14:25

It doesn't sound nice - but i am imagining a harrassed teacher on a trip and child asking at a bad time (as kids do). I'd have a chat to the teacher but wouldn't see the need to involve the head unless there's history of other incidents.

colditz Tue 09-Jul-13 14:19:28

Cansu, I was VERY specific. If a child is too ignorant, in the teachers opinion, then the teacher who has been teaching the child all year has clearly not done a very good job.

I have said nothing at all about the child's personality, and I am absolutely baffled as to why you don't understand the definition of the word "ignorant", especially as it has been defined clearly on this thread.

indyandlara Tue 09-Jul-13 14:49:22

Was that really the verbatim conversation? Did your chd interrupt when they felt they were correct and this is what the ignorant remark relates to?

cansu Tue 09-Jul-13 17:53:58

Colditz I do understand the definition of the word 'ignorant', thanks. I am suggesting in my earlier post that perhaps the teacher used the word incorrectly and instead meant that the child was being rude. I was also suggesting to you that it is ludicrous to hold the child's music teacher responsible if in fact the child is deficient in their knowledge of the curriculum or of the world or whatever the subject concerned (unless of course this is a music question given that the teacher was the child's music teacher) I suppose what I was getting at was that your comment wasn't terribly helpful. FWIW I think the teacher shouldn't have used the word in the context described. It seems to me a massive storm in a tea cup though.

charitygirl Tue 09-Jul-13 17:58:46

Hmm, there's something about that construction that would make me assume the speaker was pretty thick. If your DC is bright and challenging them they may be getting frustrated and trying to shut conversation down. Not acceptable.

Notcontent Tue 09-Jul-13 22:37:21

Well, my dd is only 7 but I have already had to start explaining to her that some of the things her teacher says are not quite right.

PrincessScrumpy Tue 09-Jul-13 23:01:53

At 31 I still remember having an argument with my teacher when I was 8 - she said told another child that pencils contain lead so if you chew them you can get lead poisoning. Me being a know-it-all gauged the situation badly and interjected with "oh no, pencils have graphite in them not lead, so they are not harmful". Teacher erupted into a rant about how I was wrong and stupid. We'd just had a trip to the nuclear power station and it had been taught there so I thought she'd be pleased I'd remembered... mind you she also told me I'd spelt "Pretty" incorrectly when I hadn't and told me to write it out correctly 20times, then went crazy at me for spelling it wrong until she got me a dictionary and suddenly realised her error and laughed saying "oh I always muddle that one". Hmmm, she was scary but I still feel smug that I was right and she was wrong.

You should probably mention it but if it was me, I hate confrontation, so I'd probably just know dd was not going to be in the class in Sept and leave it at that. Just let dd know you know she's right and that sometimes it's best not to annoy those less intelligent ;)

angusandelspethsthistlewhistle Tue 09-Jul-13 23:15:36

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Lancelottie Wed 10-Jul-13 10:46:55

Oh Angus, I still remember a primary teacher telling us, 'i before e except after c', and ranting at me like a loon when I said 'What about Scientist?'

GooseyLoosey Wed 10-Jul-13 12:21:52

I am slightly sensitive here as dd moved to this school year or so ago. The school has been fantastic so far in every way - I love it. However, the reason for the move was partly a lot of low level psychological bullying which resulted in very low self esteem. New school are well aware of this and have been great dealing with it. It is also a selective school with a lot of bright kids in it. I guess this comment just seems totally at odds with the way the school have portrayed themselves so far and what they are supposed to be trying to achieve.

adeucalione Wed 10-Jul-13 18:23:38

OP I think you're right to be cross but I'll bet the teacher kicked herself afterwards too. I've done it myself - spoken to a pupil like I'd speak to my own children, or my nephews, and been mortified afterwards.

I suppose what you do about it depends on what you want to happen. Personally, if it was an isolated incident, and at this late stage in the school year, i think I'd leave it.

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