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 ?
Serling pledged to wear a dunce cap if Countdown Cat won in Illinois, a promise he'll make good on this Friday at noon eastern at www.
Bush sitting in the corner wearing a dunce cap, beneath the coverline "Is Bush the Worst President in History?
Prosecutors and judges should make them wear Dunce Caps and throw the book at them.
Maybe more court cases should be handled this way: Order Fortune 500 executives to walk around with dunce caps, make mafia thugs do handstands, do whatever makes for more interesting courtroom decisions.
Lord bless 'em all, and the dunce caps they rode in on
Targets of student mobs were subjected to humiliating "struggle sessions," during which they were frequently beaten, forced to issue public confessions, and paraded around campus in dunce caps and placards listing their alleged crimes.
MEN against boys, ruthless assassins against bungling incompetents, the men in baggy green caps against the men in dunce caps.
We can only wait and see, and we hope for a future generation which does not have to be herded into rooms, and be made to wear dunce caps.
Here we see, systematically organized and glossed all the iconographic conventions: Jews with horns, Jews with dunce caps, Jews leering at Christian women, Jews drinking the blood of ritually sacrificed Christian children.
none of Augustine's colleagues have yet been frog-marched through the streets in dunce caps to be jeered at by the populace.
Finally, in the Options Cocktail's most anticipated segment, "Heroes and Zeros" the market wizards opine about their stand-out candidates for diplomas and dunce caps.
It has become de rigueur to paint those who scratch their heads and wonder about the general sanity of 9/ll-era decision making into a corner and put dunce caps on their heads.
In the other, sloppy teaching is enhanced by the non-consensual public exclamation of numerical dunce caps.
They should have been sent to the corner with dunce caps on their heads.