Being judged incapable of producing your own work BURNS

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at:, or follow me on Twitter.

So true!. This happened to me in 4th grade. My teacher asked a question about the coast of Africa. I answered the question, then added that South America had split off from Africa, and, according to the theory of plate tectonics, all of the continents had belonged to the super continent Pangea, which began to break up about 180 million years ago… My teacher then cut me off with an abrupt “DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT????” I was so stunned that I didn’t say anything else. But my mother was an adjunct professor who was teaching a class on geology at a nearby college, and she often took me to class with her, so at that point I’d heard her lecture on the topic several times.

So I can sort of relate to this feeling:

Interestingly this happened to me and to my younger brother.
There was no racial component to it although we do belong to a religious minority, come from low-income backgrounds and were homeschooled. I personally felt some prejudice at various times on account of these characteristics.
In my case I was a 16 year old high school dropout taking a history class at a Junior College. My prof had a lengthy conversation basically trying to get me to admit my parents wrote an essay for me and eventually gave up, although clearly unconvinced.
In my brothers case a few years later (different college, different prof) I believe he was given a zero on a test and had to file a grievance to be able to redo the work or retake the test. This is circa 2000 so my memory is a bit fuzzy.
In both our cases there was no evidence – just the perceived mismatch between our presentation and ability prompted the accusations. (We were bookworms and in a family of bookworms despite being poor and lower class.)
My only comment and the only relevance to the linked story is I remember how OUTRAGED I felt at the accusation. It wasn’t even the accusation of cheating – that I would be dishonest. It was the condescension, the implied “obviously you are not good enough to have produced this” attitude that hurt the most. In my case the professor was obviously trying to give me a break and be friendly but I remember how hurt I was and in my brother’s case… I don’t think he would ever speak to the prof again.
Being judged incapable of producing your own work BURNS.

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