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10:06am on Friday, 23rd October, 2009:

Unnecessary Counterfactual


We were at the Sixth Form College yesterday evening to find out what A-levels my younger daughter might want to do (answer: the same ones she wanted to do before we went). It was quite amusing how some of the teachers in particular subjects did their best to conform to stereotypes. The woman wearing socks under her sandals could only be a mathematician; the woman wearing a shocking pink top with pink striations in her hair could only be a psychologist; the man in the sharp, tailored suit with the single earring could only be a sociologist; the woman with long, comb-defying grey hair could only be a chemist.

Hmm, maybe that last one could also have passed as a biologist, actually.

Contrastingly, many of the students who were helping out seemed singularly mismatched with their subject: the German girl promoting the Spanish A-level; the sociologist who used the words "society" and "antisocial" in every sentence; the Geology student who just stared blankly when I told him, "Geology rocks!"; the English Language advocate who ended every statement with her voice raised? Like it was a question? Like this?

Anyway, the reason I'm posting about the visit to the Sixth Form College has little to do with any of this. It concerns a textbook I picked up and thumbed through in the Biology department. A section on the heart began:

"If you look after your heart and keep it healthy, it will last you for the rest of your life."

Whereas if you don't..?

It's probably there deliberately, to give generations of Biology students something to laugh at before heading off to dissect one.

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Copyright © 2009 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).