When a Florida Atlantic University professor ordered students to stomp on a piece of paper with the word "Jesus" written on it, he joined a growing list of classroom instructors with unconventional teaching methods.
The fallout from the FAU incident prompted Florida Gov. Rick Scott to sound off on Tuesday and issue a letter to the school to express disapproval over the lesson, which was intended to teach students about the power of words. One student was also suspended for refusing to participate.
Chalk it up to school budget cuts or the short attention span of students in the classroom, but educators have been reaching for teaching methods that are attention-grabbing, yet they left some parents, students and schools scratching their heads.
Here are some of those "What were they thinking?" moments in recent classroom history.
- Stripping Professor - A quantum mechanics professor attracted widespread attention last month when he stripped down to his underwear during a lecture at Columbia University in front of a classroom full of confused students, NBC New York reported. Prof. Emlyn Hughes was accompanied by two ninjas who helped him execute blindfolded stuffed animals by impaling them with their swords. So what was the lesson? "In order to learn quantum mechanics, you have to strip to your raw, erase all the garbage from your brain and start over again,” Hughes said.
- Classroom Kink - Students at Northwestern University witnessed a live sex act involving a woman and a sex toy during a human sexuality class taught by Prof. John Michael Bailey, according to NBC Chicago. It was a lesson on kinks and fetishes, the professor said, and he wanted to prevent students from surrendering to what he called "sex negativity and fear." "Sticks and stones may break your bones, but watching naked people on stage doing pleasurable things will never hurt you," Bailey told his class in the wake of the 2011 controversy. Bailey has since issued an apology and promised the demo will not be repeated.
- Classroom Klan - In a surprise twist, students, parents and teachers rallied behind a U.S. history teacher at Las Vegas Academy who faced backlash for allowing two juniors to dress up as Ku Klux Klan members for a class presentation in January. A photograph of one of the students circulated on social media leading to an uproar in the community. But some students weren't buying it. "The infamous KKK is discussed for several pages in the school's history textbook, it is in the curriculum, and it is a big part of the history of this nation … (one) that cannot be changed," said Karina Foster, a junior at the school. "As a U.S. history instructor, this teacher was simply doing his job. He had no intent to offend or disturb the public." The year before, the school was slammed for allowing theater students to use the N-word during a production of "Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn."
- Morbid Math - A third grade teacher in Washington D.C. was fired last March when students went home with some some very complicated math problems. One asked students to figure out how many criminals a SWAT team member killed on an average day after killing "163 terrorists, 296 murderers and 206 arsonists." Another math problem alluded to cooking people in ovens and one cast blood thirsty aliens into the equation.
- "Cone of Shame" - Science teacher Laurie Bailey-Cutkomp was suspended without pay last May when parents discovered photos of students wearing a dog cone in class, NBC Miami reported. Bailey-Cutkomp, 47, used the cone to punish students for texting, talking or eating in class and dubbed the object the "Cone of Shame." Students insisted that it was a joke, but parents were not laughing. "I don't care if it's a joke or not, it's unacceptable," parent Dawn Davis told WPTV.