A Professor's Misunderstood Lesson, a Viral Video and Pomegranates

Here’s a textbook example of why not to judge a professor on a quick video clip.

October 16, 2017
 
Wikipedia

Outsiders might think students at Des Moines Area Community College can be sure of one thing when they take a class with psychology professor Jane Martino: don’t bring pomegranates to class.

“No pomegranates,” she screamed at the class, repeatedly, in a video that has gone viral on Twitter and Reddit.

“Say it -- ‘No pomegranates.’ No, no, no, no, no pomegranates,” she yells, jumping up and down.

Martino’s tirade in the video, however, isn’t related to an actual classroom rule. It’s a lesson in negative reinforcement, and the over-the-top antics, she said, were all part of the lesson. Of course, that part of her class wasn't videotaped and shared.

“If you only tell kids what not to do, all you’re doing is filling their heads with garbage. Instead, if you say, ‘Hey how about a kiwi, shouldn’t we have a kiwi now,’ the kid might go, ‘OK.’ If you tell them what not to do, then that’s what’s going in,” Martino told a local NBC affiliate.

The video, however, doesn’t convey the underlying psychological principles of the exercise. Cut up and posted on the internet, it's a perfect mix for going viral, being both bizarre and seemingly inexplicable.

Far-right news site Breitbart ran an article on the video -- titled "Iowa Professor Goes on Bizarre Rant About Pomegranates" -- where commenters pounced on the notion of a screaming liberal professor.

“In my personal experience, psychology professors are all nuts,” the top comment reads. “Sociology professors hate society, and psychology professors hate themselves.”

In a later reply, a commenter calls social workers “left-wing nuts” and labels psychology “a joke.”

Those who have actually taken Martino’s classes, on the other hand, had positive things to say, telling the NBC affiliate that she treats them like family.

“Don’t judge someone by a little 20-second video. Just be sure to know the full details, and then after that you can actually judge them and see what you think is right and wrong," said Bernardo Pantoja, one of Martino's students.

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