Hate Trigonometry? Then, You’re Like Hitler, Says Japanese High School English Teacher

Further proof that any argument will eventually have someone call the other person a Nazi.
While there’s often a lot of crossover between the two skill sets, being a skilled linguist doesn’t automatically make you a capable conversationalist. Take, for example, one of the teachers at Matsue Minami High School, in Japan’s Shimane Prefecture.

The teacher, a 62-year-old Japanese man, is in charge of a remedial English class for ronin, students who failed to get into a college after graduating high school and are taking a year to study and prepare for the next round of entrance exams. On February 5, the teacher was chatting with one of his students, a 19-year-old boy who wants to study education if he can get into a school of higher learning.

At some point in their conversation, mathematical principles came up, and the teacher asked his student: “Is a knowledge of trigonometric functions and probability necessary?”
While more knowledge is always a good thing, most people can go years, if not decades, without having to actively apply trigonometry to their lives. Likewise, while a basic understanding of probability is a good thing to have, outside the classroom most of us don’t have to do much heavy number crunching in that field, unless we’re planning to become professional gamblers.

▼ And even they spend more time dealing with rectangles and circles than triangles.

And so the student responded that to the question of “Is a knowledge of trigonometric functions and probability necessary?” with “No, not in everyday life.” The teacher, however, disagreed, and while it’s unclear if it was his immediate reaction or not, his eventual rebuttal to the student was:
“You’re like Hitler.”
The teacher went on to tell his student “You’re not cut out to become an educator. I’d feel sorry for the kids who’d be taught by you.”

Equal parts baffling and demoralizing, the teacher’s tirade startled the student, and on March 19, Matsue Minami High School, which is administered by the prefectural government, lodged a complaint against the teacher with the Shimane Prefectural Board of Education, calling his comments inappropriate.

So how did the teacher make the jump from triangles to swastikas? Apparently because he drew a parallel between the student’s dismissal of the importance of other academic disciplines and the Nazi dictator’s denial of certain ethnic groups’ right to exist. “The student did not recognize and appreciate diversity,” the teacher explained, “and I felt that his simplistic way of thinking was Hitler-like and dangerous.”

Both the teacher and the school’s principle (who was not directly involved in the incident) have since apologized to the student and his guardians. “I deeply apologize for hurting his feelings and discouraging from his intended academic path,” said the teacher. Meanwhile, the student described his emotions with “I was shocked that he would try to discourage me from becoming a teacher,” but hopefully the incident will serve as an inspiring example of just how badly schools could use better, or at least more level-headed, educators

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