7 Honest Attempts To Educate Kids (That Went Horribly Wrong)
Parents, teachers, puppeteers, etc appreciate the challenge of teaching kids without getting preachy, which is why most of them resort to rap or sketch comedy to convey hard lessons. Little-known fact: The Fugees' album The Score was actually designed to teach youngsters their times tables.
But if you get too creative in passing along your amazing lessons, you might end up looking like one of these idiots.
McDonald's Tries To Get Kids Exercising, Burns And Blisters Their Skin Instead
Recently, McDonald's invited pint-size riots from coast to coast by introducing a Happy Meal without a toy. Instead, children got STEP-iT bracelets -- colorful plastic armbands that tracked the number of steps a child walked, lighting up when they were actively stepping. The goal, obviously, was to entice children to start moving, exercising, and losing weight ... via something packed into a box filled with greasy fries, slimy nuggets, and fatty burgers. That's like a drug dealer providing a free NA pamphlet with every gram of heroin.
We'll never know if the bracelets would've actually worked, because within eight days, McDonald's was forced to recall them all. To save money (since, well, they're dying and fucking need to), McDonald's ordered that the plastic bands be made as cheaply as possible, and with material that doesn't get along with human flesh all that swimmingly. As a result, shortly after slapping them on, several children began complaining about burn marks and blisters where once there was a STEP-iT. Exercise can be painful, but it shouldn't be that kind of painful.
"Ba da ba ba ba, I'm lov- WHY, MOM, WHY?!"
Then more children complained. And then more. All in all, at least 70 kids reported that McDonald's provided them food, folks, and fucked-up skin. To their credit, McDonald's immediately recalled every STEP-iT ever sold. Bring it back and you can get apple slices or yogurt, along with ... a free toy, like every Happy Meal before it. The lesson: Never try anything new, ever.
No one wants a Sadness Meal.
It's good for McDonald's that they acted as fast as they did, because they made almost 33 million of the damned things. If they had sat on their unwashed hands and prayed the problem away, who knows how many kids would have ended up sporting blistery wrist-kisses.
NASA Broadcast The Challenger Launch To Excite Schoolkids About Science
By the 1980s, space travel was as popular as Spandex, saying no to drugs, and changing your mind and saying yes to cocaine. It got so popular, and launches became so commonplace and borderline-routine, that NASA decided to team up with schools all across the country and broadcast a shuttle launch on live TV with millions of eager young students watching.
Just one problem: They picked the Challenger launch to do this.
A quick (and depressing) reminder.
The draw of Challenger versus one of the many other launches that year was that a regular person -- a teacher, no less -- would be on it. Christa McAuliffe, the winner of the Reagan-endorsed Teachers In Space program, was supposed to perform experiments and teach lessons from space, while working to make the unending blackness a bit more appealing to the kidlets who might one day walk on Mars. So you've got countless kids taking a break from their studies to watch CNN (the only network to broadcast the launch live), some of whom were McAuliffe's former or current students. And then, 73 seconds in, the dream died with her and her crew.
Children across the country reacted to watching people explode about as well as you'd expect. In the C New Hampshire school, where McAuliffe once taught, children were sitting around in party hats while the media honed into get their giddy, excited reactions. What they got was grief, shell shock, panic, and an order from the principal to "leave the building now. Now." Most did, but some lingered, because nothing pops the 11:00 news ratings like Kids Cry The Darnedest Tears.
Another student whom McAuliffe had once taught was seen by a teacher punching his locker repeatedly in anger and grief. At another school, one student responded to a reporter saying "The vehicle has exploded," with confusion as to what vehicle. When her teacher explained that the vehicle was the shuttle, the student immediately skipped to Step 2 of the seven stages of grief, shouting "No! No! No! They don't mean the shuttle! They don't mean the shuttle!" At least one student (though more likely one of many) suffered nightmares of the shuttle exploding with him in it. So when U.S. News And World Report called the event "the first national trauma on children" a week after, it wasn't mere subscription bait. They fucking meant it.
There's a reason the president had to give them a special talk during his speech.
Amazingly, Challenger could've been even more traumatic for the children, as the original plan was to hook them on space travel not with a teacher, but with Big Bird. No, that's not a code name for some military dude. It's that Big Bird, the giant-sized Muppet you idolized as a whippersnapper. He was going to die in front of you.
Caroll Spinney, the man behind the bird, was going to don his Big Bird suit, fly into space, and do whatever eight-foot-tall birds do, only in zero gravity. Luckily for Spinney (and our psyches), his life was brought to him by the numbers 7, 7, and 7, because he wound up not boarding the shuttle. The reason: NASA realized the Big Bird suit was too big to fit inside, and so they went for a human-sized teacher instead. But Big Bird is supposed to be an avatar for the children watching him, and his actor was too, watching the Challenger launch on-set at Sesame Street and doing exactly what millions of other kids did: bawling his eyes out.
Wild West Reenactors Bring The Past To Life ... With Real Bullets
Here's an obscure fact: People in the Wild West used guns. Not too many realize this, so thank heaven for reenactors -- those heroes who dress like Wyatt Earp, Billy the Kid, and RandomGuy the Whoever, fill some pistols with blanks, and Yosemite Sam each other against a backdrop of saloons and old-timey piano. It's all in good, pointless fun, as long as the actors remember to use blanks and not ... not-blanks.
Yes, there have been at least two cases in which such actors, determined to entertain audiences and educate them on the wild, unpredictable nature of the Old West, unknowingly fired live ammunition at both their fellow actors and the crowd. Most recently, it happened in 2015, when Tombstone Vigilante actors Tom Carter and Ken Curtis reenacted the gunfight at the OK Corral during the wonderfully named Helldorado Festival.
A little more true to life than anyone wanted.
Carter was scripted to shoot Curtis, and that's exactly what the varmint did. Unfortunately, he used live ammo ... five times. One bullet hit Curtis, at least two others hit local businesses several hundred yards away, and one struck an audience member, who most certainly didn't expect to have that story to tell friends back home.
Fortunately, the bullets didn't strike Curtis or the woman anywhere fatal, and Curtis lived to get shot another day, while the woman lived to ... hopefully not get shot ever again. That's not her job. As for the gun, it's unclear exactly why a prop wound up a Second Amendment fetishist's dream come true. A subsequent investigation revealed that Carter arrived late to the show and nobody took the time to check his weapon, but that doesn't explain much. It only makes us wonder why he had a live gun in the first place. Was he mad because nobody would let him be Doc Holliday?
The same thing happened in 2011, though, and the details are more chilling in that case. During a reenactment of some random non-famous shootout (to teach the audience that death was at them there doorsteps every second of the day), actor Paul Doering fired four live bullets from two guns, injuring three people. That was probably an accident, but how Doering reacted sure as hell wasn't. He buried bullets in the ground, lied to police and insisted he'd shot blanks, then handed his guns to his girlfriend and ordered her to skedaddle. She skedidnt, and Doering was arrested and charged with being a six-times-convicted felon with a gun. Yes, six. Now you know why we said it was "probably" an accident.
This guy looks like he "probably" doesn't eat kittens.
That stunt could've won him life in prison, but he plead to a lesser charge of tampering with evidence and only got seven and a half years. On the one hand, he sure did teach people how violent the Outlaw West really was. On the other hand, fuck.
A Teacher Buys A Cell Jammer So Kids Will Quit Using Phones In Class, Gets Busted By The FCC
Kids using their cell phones during classes is one of the big banes of modern teachdom's existence, beating tacks on chairs and only slightly trailing school shootings. But banning phones doesn't work -- kids are sneaky little shits, and can easily smuggle in anything they put their unformed little minds to. Nor does confiscating them work, because kids are stubborn little shits who will bring their phones back into class as soon as you return them.
So what to do? Well, if you're Florida teacher Dean Liptak, you buy a cellphone jammer so that the kids can't use their phones. Pro tip: Don't be like Dean Liptak. And not only because he used to wrestle with a mullet and shaved sides.
And if you do, for the love of God, come up with a better name than "Dean Power."
The jammer worked, in that students could no longer ignore Liptak's biology lessons in favor of researching the hottest new hashtags. It didn't work, however, in that it was illegal as shit. Within three days, the FCC and Verizon hit the school to inform officials that a jammer was in place, which is super-uncool, because you can't dial 911 on a jammed phone. Also, there was a cell tower real close to the school, meaning Liptak's jammer likely affected the entire neighborhood. The entire very pissed-off neighborhood.
Liptak was quickly found out and suspended without pay, which he should be eternally thankful for, because that's not jail. In his defense, he claimed that he had done tons of research on the internet (a whole 18 sites!) about cell jammers, and concluded they were OK to use if he had no "malicious intent." And yet ...
Maybe he researched with Bing?
A Museum Teaches Kids About Science By Setting Them On Fire
Science is a rigidly exact ... science. Fuck up an experiment or screw with a formula in any way, and you risk having it all literally blow up in your face. Or possibly other people's faces, if you're extra-unlucky.
For example, in 2014, a group of Reno kids were gathered around a presenter at the Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum, who was showing them how to create a "dust devil" -- one of those little fire-tornadoes made out of a methyl-alcohol-soaked, boric-acid-covered cotton ball. Done correctly, it looks like this:
Unfortunately for any fledgling Neil Degrasse Tysons in the audience that day, all the presenter showed them was what not to do. She was supposed to pour the alcohol over the cotton first, then add the acid, then set the thing ablaze. Instead, she added the acid, flamed the ball up, saw nothing happened, and then realized she had forgotten the alcohol. Rather than start the experiment again, she poured the alcohol over the fired-up acid ball. The result was, as the kids say when they're not busy running away screaming, lit:
We're not teachers, but we're pretty sure your classroom shouldn't look like the opening of Saving Private Ryan.
The flash fire, which knocked the now-flaming cotton ball to the ground, lasted only a couple seconds. However, that was enough to injure 13 people, with nine (seven kids and two adults) hitting the hospital due to acid burns on their legs, arms, and faces, along with smoke inhalation. One girl suffered second-degree burns to the face and back (she was basically "on fire," as her aunt described it) which earned herself an extra-long hospital stay -- every kid's dream stop after a long day at the museum.
Thankfully, nobody died, and within a week and a half, everybody recovered enough to leave the hospital. As for Professor Whoopsiedunkles, she got placed on paid administrative leave after the incident. No word on whether she kept her job, though considering her words right before the explosion -- "Why am I wearing a lab coat? To protect me, right, just in case the fire goes crazy" -- she might want to abandon science altogether and pursue a new career as a childhood-ruining psychic.
A Physics Teacher Demonstrates Effects Of Inertia On A Cinder Block, And His Junk
Visual aids are a wonderful way to teach lessons to people who might not understand by reading or hearing about something. That is, unless they're too busy laughing at the teacher to remember anything.
That happened in 2015, when a physics teacher decided to demonstrate inertia to his kids by letting one of his staffers break a cinder block with the butt of an ax. That sounds fine and not insane, except the block was on his chest, meaning some guy was about to swing at him with a goddamn ax, all in the name of science. But hey, hit the block and the body below it should be OK, right?
Right. Except, well, the guy didn't hit the block. Rather, he hit the cock:
After you're done cringing and dry-heaving, thank the stars (as this teacher most surely did) that they weren't using the sharp kill-you side of the ax. Also, revel in the teacher whose balls remain steel even after being pounded into mush, because he immediately had the staff member take another swing. This time, miraculously, he smashed the brick and spared the dick.
Oh, and did we mention that the wooden block which the brick lay upon had fucking spikes on the bottom? Because it did. This was apparently meant to teach students the complex physics behind driving nails into soft flesh by hitting a heavy object with another heavy object.
Let's see Bill Nye get that hardcore.
Between this guy and the professor who demonstrated the effects of Sulfur Hexaflouride (the anti-helium that makes you sound like Patrick from SpongeBob) and damn near puked the gas up before standing on his head to remove it and almost wrecking his classroom, we conclude this: Science is awesome, especially when clumsy-ass white dudes try to show it off.
A Teacher Demonstrates Fascism By Accidentally Creating A Fascist Regime In His Classroom
You knew this was coming. Less than 20 years after Hitler, a schoolteacher became Hitler. And not some jackboot from Schnitzelfuck, Germany, either -- an American schoolteacher. From California. And it took him less than a week.
In April 1967, high school teacher Ron Jones was teaching his class about Nazi Germany. One student asked how people could blindly follow such hatred, and how so many decent humans, even decades later, could insist that they never knew mass genocide was happening down the street. Jones' response was to teach his students exactly how by turning them into his own fascist regime.
The next day, students entered to Wagnerian music, an extremely clean and organized classroom, and a teacher who commanded them to sit and learn what he called "Strength Through Discipline." He wasn't even trying to be subtle -- not that it mattered. Despite just having learned about Nazi bullshit and Jones having spent his career being the "cool" teacher who rarely even took roll call, the students unanimously looked at this change and thought "Nice."
Jones instilled harsh discipline, continuously drilling his students on sitting a certain way, answering questions a certain way, breathing a certain way, and yes, chanting and saluting in a certain way. They raised their right arms to their chests, palms down, while chanting "Strength Through Discipline. Strength Through Community." Since the motion looked like a wave, Jones called their movement the Third Wave. Again, this was two days after lecturing about the Third Reich.
Nothing derivative about this.
Few students caught on, and by Day Three, Jones realized things were spiraling out of control. As he put it, "The Wave had become the center of [the students'] existence." They had membership cards, black armbands, were saluting each other in the halls, and were intimidating and even beating up students who weren't in The Wave. Kids were even cutting other classes and joining Jones', simply to assimilate into The Wave. Within five days, he had over 200 blindly obedient kids at his command.
Even Jones himself was acting like a dictator, becoming more disciplinary and authoritarian by the hour. But he couldn't stop, because both he and the students had gotten in too deep. If he abruptly ended it with "April Fools!" then young minds and spirits would likely be crushed, and perhaps they'd even revolt against Jones or fellow students. Remember that the next time you ask why Trump never dropped out.
He wanted to be involved, you guys.
Jones' solution, after five days of increasingly scary incidents (including one of the students' fathers, a former POW of the Nazis, destroying the classroom in a fit of rage), was to double-trick the students. He told The Wave they were part of a nationwide effort to find students willing to create change -- in schools, colleges, the working world, politics -- until they'd ultimately change "the destiny of this nation." They were now the Third Wave Youth Program, because "YOU ARE ALL ACTING LIKE NAZIS" didn't roll off the tongue as well.
After exiling the handful of students who still questioned The Wave (leaving only dutiful, obedient Wavers), Jones held a Wavers-only rally. What they got wasn't a rally, but rather footage of the worst shit the Nazis did, starting with Nuremberg Rallies, followed by families being violently torn apart and hoarded into vans and trains on the way to the death camps. It ended with Nazis on trial insisting they only did what they were told, followed by the quote, "Everyone must accept the blame. No one can claim that they didn't in some way take part."
"Uh, some more than others ..."
With that, Jones explained The Wave was a hoax, and how it exposed the children as fully capable of the evil they were taught about the week before. "You have been used, manipulated," he told them. "Shoved by your own desires into the place you now find yourself. You are no better or worse than the German Nazis we have been studying. You thought that you were the elect. That you were better than those outside this room. You bargained your freedom for the comfort of discipline and superiority. You chose to accept that group's will and the big lie over your own conviction."
The kids learned their lesson. They learned their lesson so hard that many of them waited decades to tell anyone about the time they were fake Nazis. Instead, they grew up to never talk about politics or engage in government again.
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