dunce cap

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dunce cap

The mark of ignorance. Before more enlightened pedagogical theories came into practice, students who were considered slow learners or even completely incapable of learning were made to sit on a high stool in a classroom corner while wearing a tall, conical paper cap with the word “dunce” on it. The rationale was that such embarrassment would encourage the child to try harder and do better (perhaps as a traumatized juvenile delinquent). Such headgear has gone the way of the three Rs taught to the tune of a hickory stick, but as a phrase, people who make a mistake then smack themselves up the side of the head while uttering a Homer Simpson–like “doh!” might then ask rhetorically “Where'd I leave that dunce cap?” “Dunce” has an interesting derivation. It comes from the medieval philosopher John Duns Scotius, whose ideas were considered foolish. He and his followers wore conical hats, the top meant to point toward higher wisdom. The similarity to dunce caps is inescapable.
See also: cap
References in periodicals archive ?
Suddenly, the worn-out schoolboy dropped from being one of the school's brightest pupils to one of its biggest dunces.
Any pooch that scores 54 or higher is the equivalent of a canine Einstein but the dog's a dunce if it scores under 18.
I called him stupid, a dunce and said he needed to go to a special school, " said Mr Wheatley.
This causes some very uncompelling friction - Matt (Saget) shares with his classes benignly embarrassing information about his daughter, Sarah (Kat Dennings), who frets and fumes and berates him, only for the poor dunce to go and reveal something else.
WHEN they thought of class, Britney was outside waiting for the headmaster with a dunce cap on.
Jesse Ventura, the ex-wrestler and actor who proves that an amiable, charismatic dunce can indeed go far in talk show politics.
AN obliging St Johnstone jobsworth told us the official attendance was 2067 but it's odds-on he was the school dunce at arithmetic.
Who is the biggest dunce is the question that needs answering.
Lunghi and her partner James Jordan were voted off after the public kept dance dunce Sergeant, 64, out of the bottom two.
They should have been sent to the corner with dunce caps on their heads.
The fact that he didn't reign in Blethyn's over-the-top performance - she comes off as a cross between Eliza Doolittle and any dunce from the royal family - doesn't help matters much, either.
GEOGRAPHY dunce Jude Law nearly sparked a second War of the Roses.
TURNS out John Barrowman is a dunce - and somehow it's all Doctor Who's fault.
The public is indeed a confederacy of dunces and I admit to being the biggest dunce of them all.
Earlier, Cole had turned dunce when he emerged from the team hotel clutching a brochure entitled 'Our Little Secret'.