Friday, February 14, 2014

What REALLY happened in class



One of the most baffling aspects of the haters who post on my blog is their shameless admission that they can’t actually remember a single example of my misconduct in class, except to repeat that I was constantly disruptive and obnoxious. Common sense would dictate that if someone was carrying on so outrageously for a period of nine weeks running, there would be at least two or three conspicuous stories…but so far, nothing. No, that’s not exactly true: there is one very disturbing story on the record, told by Mrs. Cantor and embellished in the retelling by Martin Grainger, about how I virtually got right up in the face of the ASL translator and was screaming at her. But that story has since been debunked by no less than Mrs. Cantor, who admits that when she first witnessed the incident, she saw absolutely nothing wrong or mean-spirited in my behavior: on the contrary, she thought I was courteous and highly complimentary to the guest. She still hasn’t explained why she sent a letter to the Dean which conveyed exactly the opposite impression, and why she hasn’t since gone back to the University to apologize for her behavior and correct the damage she inflicted on me. But that’s not my topic for today.

The fact is that the haters, without realizing it, have actually hit the nail right on the head in terms of why I was kicked out of school. You can see it in the comments on my last blogpost: the most eloquent of my critics put it this way:


“YOU WERE FRICKEN DISRUPTIVE??? If you don't remember.... you have bigger problems than pending lawsuits.... You clearly couldnt gauge an audience and see that NO ONE wanted to listen to a word you had to say…The fact that you don't see HOW you were disruptive confirms the fact that you are on the spectrum....”

In case you aren’t up to date on the lingo, calling me “on the spectrum “ is the politically correct way of calling me a mental case. She then goes on:


I do not remember specific points/arguements/comments, I remember very often being frustrated that the class was not moving forward due to your lack of understanding and/or fighting what they were saying and trying to validate your point of view. No one agreed with anything you had to say and clearly you could not gauge an audience. Sometimes its best to sit there and shut up.

So Miss Fricken (let’s call her) finds the clearest evidence of my mental disorder to be that I didn’t have the sense to sit down and shut up when I anyone could clearly see that no one wanted to listen to a word I had to say. She finds no fault with what I was saying…she freely admits she wasn’t listening and can’t remember. Just the fact that I would disagree with (or even fail to understand!) the professor’s point was enough to brand me as a misfit.

I wonder if it ever occurred to her that whatever mental disorder I might be afflicted with pales in comparison with the enormous social disorder evident in a society where fifty students can sit passively in a class called “Philosophy of Education” while a professor tells them, for example, that “the purpose of education is so-and-so” and not a single voice raises a peep in objection.

I don’t care if the professor was right or wrong: that's hardly the point. But how can there be only one legitimate theory as to purpose of education? How can fifty wanna-be schoolteachers be so pliable and devoid of independent thought as to passively accept whatever the professor says? The fact is I was the only one of fifty student to propose a different theory of what I considered the “purpose of education”. I spent about 45 seconds explaining my point of view, and then yielded the floor. Professor Bell glared at me and picked up right where he had left off, completely ignoring what I had said.

Miss Fricken and her fellow haters were no-doubt clucking to themselves approvingly, having seen one more clear example of my mental condition. Couldn’t I see (and didn’t Professor Bell make it obvious) that no one was interested in anything I had to say?

Or what about the time when we watched Stand and Deliver, and afterward Professor Bell was talking about what methods Mr. Escalante used to motivate his students. “Was it internal or external motivation?”, he asked the class; and then without waiting for a response, he said: “It was internal, wasn’t it?” Of course this is the obvious answer because it’s much better if the student is internally motivated than externally motivated, and the point of the movie was that Mr. Escalante was an outstanding teacher.

But what does it mean to be internally or externally motivated? One disquieting aspect for me about the movie was its complete absence of any sense that the students loved math. It was all about the discipline of working hard to excel on the state-wide tests. I raised my hand and asked, “Wasn’t it external motivation, because he got his students pumped up over the idea of showing the anglo world what latinos were capable of?” Professor Bell shot back at me: “NO. It was internal motivation”. End of discussion. The sneer in his voice was palpable. 

And the other students, the “good” students, quickly picked up on how they were supposed to deal with Marty Green. Later in the term there was a group presentation, and one of the students was talking about how you could explain compound words by breaking them up: “Like the word meta-cognition”, he explained: “meta means “big” and cognition means understanding, so metacognition means understanding of large concepts.”

I raised my hand and said that in my opinion, meta meant something like “the next level”, so metacognition actually meant “understanding about understanding”. And the student presenter, taking his cue straight from Professor Bell, snapped back immediately: “NO. That’s not what it means”. End of discussion.

Except that after class, a few other students came up to me with their iphones, to show me that they had googled metacognition and they wanted me to know that I was right! I was gratified, but I think it’s pretty significant that none of them were brave enough (or dumb enough!) to make this observation on my behalf in class, in front of the professor and the haters. But these were young people, well acclimatized to the contemporary social expectations. They weren’t about to jeopardized their careers by sticking their necks out.

But there was one exceptional incident. It was very near the end of the term, and by now everyone knew where things stood with me.  But I still couldn’t see any reason why I shouldn’t be able to participate openly in class discussions like any other student: just because they were always agreeing with the prof and my opinions were usually “unpopular”, what difference should that make?

So when Professor Bell said something about how you teach Bernoulli’s prinicple in grade 6 (?!?) to explain how an airplane works, I thought it was appropriate to point out something I’d learned about the traditional explanation that people ought to know: it’s simply wrong. The picture you see everywhere of those streamlines passing over the curved wing has nothing to do with how an airplane works. You’ve seen the picture: it’s everywhere:



I said, “I don’t want to interrupt, but this will take about ten seconds for me to draw,” and I rushed to the board. You could see Professor Bell rolling his eyes as he muttered under his breath “…this is what happens when you lose control of the class…”; and I drew the picture and said, “I’ve been in all kinds of physics board discussions on the internet about this, and anyone who knows anything about airplanes knows that you can’t fly a plane unless the wing is tilted.” And the pictures never show that. The plane in the picture could never fly.

When I sat down, something very unusual happened. Michelle Rosner spoke up from the back. “I just want to thank Marty for pointing that out, because if he hadn’t we’d never know that.” And Steve Whitmore added: “Yes, I’d also like to thank Marty.”

Now, normally it’s the professor who thanks a student for making a contribution. But by this time, it was so obvious that was never going to happen that Michelle took it upon herself to fill in the gap. It was a courageous and very suttle rebuke to Professor Bell and all the haters. But it wasn’t enough to stop them from getting me kicked out of school.

46 comments:

  1. Your unfolding history is fascinating. I'm glad that Michelle and Steve stood up for you. Sounds like most education students just want to get through with the coursework and get their certification, or whatever you call it in Canada.
    P.S. Happy Birtday

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    1. Thanks, Pearl. Nice to hear from you again. Yes, it was my birthday....parshas beshalach, was it? Check out my physics blog for my articles in the Jewish Post...they're mixed up with a bunch of group theory and quantum mechanics, but there's about twenty of them posted already, mostly on Yiddish; my latest one is here:

      http://marty-green.blogspot.ca/2014/02/bontshe-shweig.html

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  2. While I did not speak up in that particular class, I do remember this incident involving Bernoulli's principle. I've also studied physics, and it was nice to have the mistake clarified by someone who was comfortable speaking up about it. So thank you for that.

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  3. I'm glad you appreciated it. You know, the thing you call "being comfortable speaking up" is what Miss Fricken calls "being on the spectrum", which in less enlightened times we would have called "being a mental case". I wonder if she might consider that we nut-jobs not only have a right to earn a living the same as anyone else, but once in a while it's even positively useful to have us around.

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  4. Now you are putting words in my mouth. (Miss Fricken) I see a big difference between someone willing to 'speak up' and some just wanting to be confrontational. You were very confrontational to the professors. Its like you just wanted to hear yourself speak. Like you just wanted to catch the profs in a factual error.

    I too remember the conversation regarding flight and, sure it was great that you set the record straight. The problem was that you wanted to 'set the record straight' too often. Say for example a prof was spit balling an idea (No, I don't have a specific example as it was too long ago and it was really not that important to me) with reference of how to teach the concept, you felt it was necessary to correct the specifics of a fact, which was not the intended point of the example. This was tedious to listen to on a daily basis.

    I am not calling ANYONE identified or not, on the spectrum a nut-job or mental case. Do not put words in my mouth. This is why some of your former class-mates won't comment, because you twist things around to suit you.

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    1. My "spectrum disorder" as you call it might cause me to behave in ways that seem strange to normal people like yourself, but I'm not too stupid to know when someone's calling me a nut job.

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  5. Different anon here, I do remember Dave Bell requesting to make a point first then you could go up and you said "it wont take long". And you just kept walking up to the front which resulted in his comment about losing control. Details Mr Green are very important.

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    1. Since you've apparently got such a good memory for details, and you agree as to how important they are, why don't you fill us all in on the details of some incidents which illustrate the horrifying behavior for which I deserved to get kicked out of school? Or do you agree with Miss Fricken that THOSE details aren't important?

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    2. No thanks, I'd rather you post your side of all the incidents first and poke holes through them like I just did here and much like you want to do to everyone else.

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    3. So details are only important when you think you can turn them against me.

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    4. Do you not recall Dave Bell asking you to wait, or did you just leave that part out?

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    5. You know, it's fun for me to guess which hater is which. The great majority of course were women but there is something just a touch unfeminine about your presence. You're not the same guy who sneered me down when I called him on the definition of "metacognition", are you?

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    6. Do you remember Dave asking you to wait or did you just leave that part out?

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    7. Wrong-o I dont even remember who gave that presentation. Are you going to my answer question or not?

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    8. I might. Would you consider following up on your earlier commitment to "poke holes through" my account of the other three incidents I posted above?

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    9. Sure, when we are done dealing with this one...I'll try this for a third time, do you remember Dave asking you to wait, or did you decide to leave that part out?

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    10. I remember Bell trying to move on without giving me a chance to explain what was wrong with the picture. I decided to leave that part out because I thought it was obvious from the context, especially the way I said I rushed for the board while apologizing for interrupting, and saying that this would only take ten seconds.

      Your turn. There are three more incidents I described above. You said you would poke holes in my stories. Knock yourself out...

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    11. So you still rushed to the board after he said he wanted to continue with his lesson first? It wasnt about flight, your correction was just a side note that did not have to be done right then and there and the prof asked you to remain seated so he could continue and asked you to wait. You did not comply.

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    12. Yes. Now are you going to answer my question?

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    13. If the prof asked you to wait and you did not comply, would you consider that an interruption to the learning of other students? You were told you could make your point, you just had to wait. I'd say that makes the story a little different leaving out that detail dont you say?

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    14. No he did not "ask me to wait"...he tried to brush me off. If he offered to let me go up and draw my sketch as soon as he was done, I would have waited. I'd say that makes the story a little different than your version.

      Now you said if I answered your question you'd answer mine. I fulfilled my end of the bargain...now it's your turn. If you post any more comments to this thread other than what you promised above, I will remove them.

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  6. I wonder if part of the problem is that university professors often are not the greatest teachers, and expect their students to be very compliant and receptive and passive. Then you get a much older student like Marty who also has a much different manner of interacting, who is not passive and immature, and the prof simply cannot handle it. In the example above, Mr Bell doesn't seem to have a lot of tools in his belt.

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    1. Dave Bell was not teaching a class on flight, he simply used it as an example for a different point in which Marty wanted to further explain (good for him, it was useful), however, Dave wanted to make his point first then Marty could continue but Marty did as he pleased and did not listen to the prof's request to hold tight.

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    2. And your point is ? When you have intelligent and motivated adult students you cannot expect to have the same level of control as you would with 18 year olds, nor should you want that.

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    3. To be fair, not a single person in that class was younger than the age of 22 - it was an after-degree program which stipulated that you had to have at least a three-year general degree under your belt before you could apply for admission. Only two students in the class went straight from their first program into the after-degree program. The remaining 28 or so were students ranging from mid-twenties up to their thirties, with other students aside from Marty being older than age 40.

      Granted, there is still a sizable gap between someone in their fifties and someone in their mid-twenties, but to suggest that the cohort was as immature as a group of newly-minted high school graduates is doing them an extreme disservice. Please try to be a bit more informed before you make these broad, sweeping, blindly denigrating comments. They betray you as being incredibly naive.

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    4. People who are in the process of betraying themselves as incredible jackasses should watch what they are accusing other people of betraying themselves as.

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    5. Different "anonymouses" once again.

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  7. New anonymous.

    I was not in any of your classes, but I know from experience with other obnoxious students that when something, either positive or negative, happens often enough (i.e. class disruptions, even if each incident is different from the others), the incidents all start to blur together, and they start tuning it all out with a "here we go again" attitude (again, it can be either positive or negative, you can laugh about something and have it pass in one ear and out the other anyway).

    With that in mind, I'm not overly surprised that the accusations of disruptive behavior lack specifics. If it was half as prevalent as is suggested, all of it could easily blur together into one big disruption.

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    1. Oh come on now. Yes, sometimes there's a bunch of little things, but to get someone kicked out of school, there's ALWAYS something pretty memorable.

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    2. Not necessarily. A deluge of minor incidents can still add up to a hostile and unproductive environment. Although, a string of minor incidents can be hard to lodge a formal complaint against.
      While I don't know for sure, and can only speculate, I could imagine the truth being stretched to some degree for the express purpose of achieving an end result that they feel is deserved for the minor incident string, which are by themselves inactionable.

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    3. You don't need to speculate: I've been documenting the way they "stretched the truth" to get me kicked out of school. It sounds like you find nothing wrong with any of that. Are you a schoolteacher?

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  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. You can post your comment after you answer my question: do you think the lies Mrs. Cantor told about my improper behavior to the ESL instructor were an acceptable "stretching of the truth" to acheive the end result of getting me kicked out of school?

      And are you a schoolteacher?

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  9. It wasn't my comment you removed (Anonymous can be tricky, but I have none of the Wordpress or other services in the "comment as" list). Not yet, prospective. And I don't approve of stretching the truth, I can just imagine the slippery slope that led to it.

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    1. Yes, of course you can imagine it: that's what people do when vague and sinister accusations are bandied about. And they tend to imagine the worst case, not the best. That's why its so important for an accused person to be confronted with specific charges. And that's what makes Mrs Cantor so exceptionally guilty of unethical behavior...because knowing all that, she carefully phrased her letter of complaint about me so that it would make my conduct sound as horrifying as possible, while still giving herself the excuse that she never explicitly said it in so many words.

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  10. I dont believe she lied. She spoke on behalf of her students. Could she made it more clear they weren't her beliefs? Absolutely. Now, if she did not speak up on behalf of the alleged students that complained would she be doing her job? Just because she wasnt offended, it doesnt mean no one else should be. She probably should have spoke with you first, but maybe at that point the profs were already aware of the behaviours you had demonstrated in class. I do recall on a few occassions in Mr Bells class when you had many comments or questions he requested you stay after class to discuss them, once even asking you to coffee to chat which you abruptly replied with a firm "No I dont want to".

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  11. You don't go for coffee with people who are plotting behind your back to get you kicked out of school. Because when you do, anything you say can and will be used against you. Like Mrs. Cantor did when she misrepresented things I told her in a private discussion after class. And yes, Bell did the same, lying to the Dean about an occasion when he phoned me up in the evening. No, I don't go for coffee with those people.

    And I am appalled the blind hypocrisy of Mrs. Cantor's apoligists who think it was "her job" to pass on the haters complaints about me as though they were her own, but it wasn't "her job" to tell the Dean that she herself felt I had done absolutely nothing wrong.

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  12. Miss Fricken here.... Ah ha!!! There it is.... "You don't go to coffee with people who are plotting behind your back." REALLY??? You honestly believe Dave was 'plotting behind your back?" Not on your life. He was trying to understand your position and trying to help you in the course. I challenge you to find one former classmate who thought Dave was 'out to get you.' Good luck.

    I guess this is the same reason you declined to meet with the department when things started to go to hell in a hand basket for you. I have never understand your unwillingness to discuss your position with the 'powers that be' in the university. You were all too happy to take it to the next level. Shame on you. You WANTED to start a battle. Well, here it is Marty. Your wasting taxpayer money in court and doing what you do best.... twisting words and trying to be the victim. I feel badly for you.

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    1. Yes, they were all plotting behind my back to get rid of me and there is no doubt about it. I have the minutes of the meeting and I have the letters they sent the Dean.

      If they wanted to be up front about it, they would have sent me copies of the letters. They didn't. They got together with the Associate Dean; they worked out what they were going to say; they wrote the letters, and they didn't send me copies. In short, they got together behind my back to make a plan to get rid of me.

      What part of "behind my back" do you still not understand?

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    2. Ah ha ... the grand conspiracy theory ... brilliant as usual, Marty!!!

      Yes. I see it all now. Marty Green, the innocent student, trying to help out where possible, has been singled out. Every time Marty took over the podium the professors should have put their unconscionable agendas aside and let Marty speak for as long as he wanted, because it is Marty Green, étudiante brilliant - and not the professors - who has been destined to guide those other poor lost and unseeing students to success in attaining their course goals.

      Could it have been religious prejudice?
      Could it have been racial prejudice?
      Could it have been that nasty old boy's network engaged in their traditional antidisestablishmentarianist vendettas.
      Could it have simply been a case of terrible B.O.
      Who can say, but it is 'conspiracy' writ large!

      Of course, Marty, your behaviour could never have been at fault!!! Ever. That much we know so far from your description of your overwhelmingly reasonable and correct approach to updating current pedagogical methodologies. It all makes sense to me now!

      Since you'd been booted from other schools before you were so rudely interrupted by that set of obviously conniving U of W profs, plotting with U of M, Gordon Bell and who knows what other institution's instructors, it is now obvious to any reasonable person that they've all been conspiring together all these years to get you, and you alone, the amazing and honourable Mr. Martin Green. Yes, Marty, your blog makes it all so clear now.

      Secret meetings, hushed telephone calls, whispered innuendo, all organized by a conniving cabal designed to destroy that brilliant career which you had so rightly set your sights on. Darn. How could this have happened?

      Fight on, Marty! Fight the good fight, my friend. It makes so much sense now that I see they were all in cahoots!

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  13. What a waste of energy. What is a fifty year old former young math tv tutor to do? Why are you so focused on proving slight details and deleting others that change the apparent argument you continue to dig up. Isn't this harassment and exactly why the U of W thought you were not suitable to be among its hallowed halls? I am a proud U of W award-winning B .ED graduate and successful teacher and would be embarrassed to call you a colleague. Get a freaking life! The institution has a right to think of the greater good than your narrow self-interested, oppositional disordered "rights" to argue every point in your head. Go and get your TESL or do some on-line tutoring and contribute to society, Marty. You can do it. Drop this obsession. It's time.

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  14. Ah ha ... the grand conspiracy theory ... brilliant as usual, Marty!!!

    Yes. I see it all now. Marty Green, the innocent student, trying to help out where possible, has been singled out. Every time Marty took over the podium the professors should have put their unconscionable agendas aside and let Marty speak for as long as he wanted, because it is Marty Green, étudiante brilliant - and not the professors - who has been destined to guide those other poor lost and unseeing students to success in attaining their course goals.

    Could it have been religious prejudice?
    Could it have been racial prejudice?
    Could it have been that nasty old boy's network engaged in their traditional antidisestablishmentarianist vendettas.
    Could it have simply been a case of terrible B.O.
    Who can say, but it is 'conspiracy' writ large!

    Of course, Marty, your behaviour could never have been at fault!!! Ever. That much we know so far from your description of your overwhelmingly reasonable and correct approach to updating current pedagogical methodologies. It all makes sense to me now!

    Since you'd been booted from other schools before you were so rudely interrupted by that set of obviously conniving U of W profs, plotting with U of M, Gordon Bell and who knows what other institution's instructors, it is now obvious to any reasonable person that they've all been conspiring together all these years to get you, and you alone, the amazing and honourable Mr. Martin Green. Yes, Marty, your blog makes it all so clear now.

    Secret meetings, hushed telephone calls, whispered innuendo, all organized by a conniving cabal designed to destroy that brilliant career which you had so rightly set your sights on. Darn. How could this have happened?

    Fight on, Marty! Fight the good fight, my friend. It makes so much sense now that I see they were all in cahoots!

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  15. Ah ha ... the grand conspiracy theory ... brilliant as usual, Marty!!!

    Yes. I see it all now. Marty Green, the innocent student, trying to help out where possible, has been singled out. Every time Marty took over the podium the professors should have put their unconscionable agendas aside and let Marty speak for as long as he wanted, because it is Marty Green, étudiante brilliant - and not the professors - who has been destined to guide those other poor lost and unseeing students to success in attaining their course goals.

    Could it have been religious prejudice?
    Could it have been racial prejudice?
    Could it have been that nasty old boy's network engaged in their traditional antidisestablishmentarianist vendettas.
    Could it have simply been a case of terrible B.O.
    Who can say, but it is 'conspiracy' writ large!

    Of course, Marty, your behaviour could never have been at fault!!! Ever. That much we know so far from your description of your overwhelmingly reasonable and correct approach to updating current pedagogical methodologies. It all makes sense to me now!

    Since you'd been booted from other schools before you were so rudely interrupted by that set of obviously conniving U of W profs, plotting with U of M, Gordon Bell and who knows what other institution's instructors, it is now obvious to any reasonable person that they've all been conspiring together all these years to get you, and you alone, the amazing and honourable Mr. Martin Green. Yes, Marty, your blog makes it all so clear now.

    Secret meetings, hushed telephone calls, whispered innuendo, all organized by a conniving cabal designed to destroy that brilliant career which you had so rightly set your sights on. Darn. How could this have happened?

    Fight on, Marty! Fight the good fight, my friend. It makes so much sense now that I see they were all in cahoots!

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  16. Here is a direct quote Marty - dare to comment?

    I have personally witnessed his outbursts and argumentative behaviour in our mutual class together. Let me tell you, he was a little more than disruptive and a LOT scary! He was inappropriate, lacked social skills and was NOT open to other opinions. He misunderstood a lot of what the profs intentions were and it lead to frustration on the professor's part, not to mention the students. His true colours will shine in court, he has no ability to hide them.

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  17. He had no career prospects and figured a lawsuit was his sleaziest ... Er ... Easiest way to money. Greed and desperation That is Marty's reason for doing this.

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