kitchen table math, the sequel: ture and flase

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

ture and flase

As a child, my bête noire was always true-false tests. The more details you know about a topic, the more likely you are to see every answer as, "well, yes and no." True or False: Lincoln was well-educated? Well, he had very limited formal education, which the teacher mentioned and which is what people today tend to mean when they say "educated," so maybe she wants me to say false. But he had extensive self-education, which she also mentioned, and this may be a trap where she's going to argue, "No, education doesn't have to mean formal education, and I told you he was self-educated" which would make it true. But if I answer true, she'll end up marking it wrong and telling me, "Oh, come on, you know what I mean by 'educated'", and someone will tell me--they always do--to stop "overthinking" it. What does "overthinking" mean? Does it mean that answering correctly requires answering as if I knew less? How much less?

And what does "true" mean? Does it mean 100% true? In formal (binary) logic, something that is mostly true is false. So, on a true-false test, if something is mostly true, is it true or false?

Those %#\$@ true-false tests drove me nuts.
I'm laughing!

Glen's story calls to mind my first year T.A.ing freshman rhetoric at the University of Iowa. I was young and wide-eyed.

I was so young and wide-eyed that I vividly recall to this day my shock at one of the older T.A.s* telling a group of us that his students so often misspelled "true" and "false" on true/false tests that he had once required everyone in the class to write "ture" and "flase"(which he pronounced "flace") instead of true and false.

Later on, he became my boyfriend, but I don't think the ture-flase episode had anything to do with it.

* I'm pretty sure there's supposed to be an apostrophe after "T.A.s," but I don't like an apostrophe after T.A.s, so I'm not putting on in.

Eowyn said...

No apostrophe, and usually it's just TAs in my experience... We don't belong to nobody nohow! (Otherwise we would know whom to bitch to about the pacychecks. :)

Catherine Johnson said...

Hey Eowyn - Welcome to ktm!

Why is there no apostrophe?

Is telling a gerund in that sentence?

I've been sitting in on the grammar class for English majors at the college I teach at. The professor uses Martha Kolln's book and tells us "We learned all of this in 5th grade."

She did, too.

Anonymous said...

One used to use apostrophes for plurals of acronyms, but that is generally considered horribly old-fashioned these days, and apostrophes are just used for contractions and possessives.

Personally, I like this change, as there never seemed to me to be much point to the apostrophe in a plural.

Barry Garelick said...

In my second grade social studies class, we learned about the "community" and how it functioned, as was the norm for how social studies classes were conducted in the 50's. Our teacher gave true-false tests. The questions mystified me. "The fireman is my friend."

I had very few friends then, and certainly none of them were firemen.