Home Podcasts THMG061 – Acute Toxic Classroom Syndrome

THMG061 – Acute Toxic Classroom Syndrome


In the last episode of the year, we discuss acute toxic classroom syndrome (ATCS), which is something we’ve all dealt with at some point.

Complete Show Notes

2:35 What is Acute Toxic Classroom Syndrome?

  • This is a result of when a tedious topic is thrust upon us by instructors who are possibly unqualified or uninformed
  • Their delivery is lackluster, and this usually leads to feelings of revolt and rebellion, rather than awe and learning

3:35 How Do We Experience ATCS?

  • Administrators
    • To the untrained eye, they seem oblivious of the unrelenting hazard that’s being imposed
    • They think they’re serving the best interests of the organization by providing the course in the first place
    • Their focus is typically trained on the final outcome, regardless of any casualties incurred along the way
    • The end game is getting names and ID numbers certified – actual people exiting class is secondary and providing meaningful instruction is destroyed in hopes of getting students certified despite what was actually retained
  • Instructors
    • While their task is nearly insurmountable, they’re bound to success not only by the duty to teach, but also by their belief that no class is too dry or boring
    • They craft the presentation to the point where even their eyes glaze over – at this point, they click “save” and say “Good enough”
  • Students
    • Sign up for the class months in advance and ask, “How bad can it be?”
    • The night before, they begin to dread the class and look for any excuse to be absent
    • These excuses include childcare, car trouble, calendar mistakes, and the option of working overtime

6:00 Symptoms of ATCS

  • Lethargy
  • Drooling
  • Broken noses because of heads hitting desks
  • Stupor
  • Unconsciousness
  • Hostility
  • Link between hibernation and sleeping in class
  • Sudden-onset ADD – a crack in the ceiling becomes a point of interest
  • Bilateral stroke face
  • Full-on Bell’s palsy

7:55 Pathophysiology of ATCS

  • The sound wave
    • Begins when the instructor greets the classroom
    • A single or monotone pressure wave is produced from the platitudinous pedagogue that strikes the tympanic membrane
    • This sends a cascade of impulses to various parts of the brain that affects both sympathetic and parasympathetic systems
  • Drooling
    • This can be caused by the following:
      • Allergies
      • Tumors
      • Infections, including strep throat, tonsillitis, and sinusitis
      • Neuro-impairment caused by the dulling of the brain

9:00 Reduction of ATCS Symptoms

  • High-octane coffee helps
  • There’s a direct correlation between temperature and volume – low temperatures mean the instructor can speak more quietly, while high temperatures mean they need to speak loudly
  • For instructors
    • Lesson learned
    • Drill instructor style
    • War story – drifters, draft dodgers, paper tigers, laughing at one’s own joke
  • For students
    • Study about time, distance, and shielding to learn about keeping your distance from a toxic instructor
    • People in the front row have less interaction with a toxic instructor, despite popular opinion that those in the back can avoid them best
    • Use of protective concepts – includes cell phone use and side conversations
    • Honeymoon strategy of tuning in and out as often as possible – benefits include continued circulation and breathing, a reduction in blood clots, and a reduction in Bundy-style thoughts
    • Cerebral shoring (holding your head up) – use single hand, double arm, book on forehead, or a buddy’s shoulder
  • Advanced techniques
    • Intentional sabotage of the instructor pathway by supplying bad information/facts, supplying unverifiable information, and making a confused face when presented with facts (try the olive oil technique)
    • Buddy system – make friends with the instructor before class so you’re less likely to be called on
    • Newspapers – find papers with crossword puzzles, Sudoku puzzles, cartoons, etc. – this is only for highly-skilled students
    • Late to class questions – surefire way to have violent interactions with fellow classmates in the parking lot if you delay class – there’s little effect of straight time attendance and overtime attendance having any effect on classroom proceedings
    • 15-minute break – this is recommended per hour of instruction to reduce the possibility of these symptoms

24:00 Setting Up the Classroom

  • Student perspective
    • Find a seat near an outlet – use this to power your phone
    • Bring an extra battery to events
    • Always have the Wi-Fi password
    • Determine the replenishment rate of coffee and figure out where the cream, milk, and sugar are
    • Use your finger to mix scalding hot coffee – it’ll keep you awake
    • Stand up
    • Make phone calls – stage them to give yourself a mental break when necessary
    • Know all exit pathways and points of egress – no time to do this once the onslaught begins – the middle of the classroom is best
    • Intestinal sabotage – eat an early breakfast so you have to use the restroom frequently
  • Instructor perspective
    • Ensure strong coffee is available and minimal contaminants – uncomfortable students are more concerned, which makes the brain work
    • Make the room cold enough that penguins may pop up from under the desks
    • Rehearse so you’re not stuttering over your slides
    • Video tag team
    • Avoid the effect of 30 lifeless eyes and the lack of verbal interactions that many instructors have experienced before
    • Remember that you’d rather teach than be taught
    • Purposefully misspell words to keep students on their toes
    • Try to pick interesting class topics
    • Help them develop Stockholm Syndrome

    Have a question? Send an email to feedback@thehazmatguys.com or leave a message on our Haz Mat Guys comment hotline: 843-628-1484

    Show Sponsors
    Related Episodes

    The Hazmat Guys

    Author: The Hazmat Guys