Harriet Tubman Got Up To A Lot More Than You Realize

, , , , , | Learning | December 29, 2018

(I’m a teacher. My sophomore students are writing cause/effect essays about incidents of civil disobedience. The following are comments I’ve had to make on various rough drafts.)

Me, in response to Student #1: “I’m afraid Susan B. Anthony did not vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016, because Anthony had been dead for over a century.”

Me, in response to Student #2: “Even though President and Mrs. Obama don’t live in the White House anymore, that doesn’t mean they are dead.”

Me, in response to Student #3: “While slaves were abused in horrific ways, they were not sprayed from above with chemicals, because airplanes didn’t exist before or during the Civil War.”

Student #3: “Harriet Tubman ended slavery because she caused global warming, starting back in the ninth century with the fall of the Roman Empire…”

Me: “I don’t even know where to begin… Just… No.”

Dogs Actually Do That?

, , , , , , , | Learning | November 24, 2018

In the UK, mandatory schooling finishes after the completion of GCSE exams, which are taken after two years of study. When my brother was picking his options for the GCSEs, my family had adopted a puppy from a specialist rescue charity for a particular breed of dog.

This puppy was teething when he came to our family. One day, my brother left his options paperwork on the dining table, and the dog got a hold of it. We came into the dining room one day to find it had been used as a chew toy; the largest part left had distinct bite marks, and paper was everywhere.

My mother told my brother to fetch his homework diary so she could write a note to the school to say that the dog chewed it and he needed a new one. Feeling silly I told my brother, “At least it wasn’t your homework.”

He didn’t get it until our mother told him that the dog eating your homework was the oldest excuse in the book.

Student Failed Assignment For Not Knowing The Dictionary Definition Of A Dictionary Definition

, , , , , | Learning | November 9, 2018

(English has never been my best subject, since I’m a very literal person and assignments often require us to recognize and understand foreshadowing, symbolism, dramatic irony, and so on. However, I do have a large vocabulary, so when our homework one day is to define a list of words, I complete it before class ends. Much to my shock, when the sheets are handed back, all of them are marked wrong. Despite being generally timid — and even cowardly — overall, I can’t accept this, and confront my teacher.)

Me: “Why did you mark all of these wrong?”

Teacher: “Because they are all wrong.”

Me: *offended* “I know what all these words mean! Everything I wrote down is right!

Teacher: “Yes, but the assignment was to look them up, to show that you know how to use a dictionary.”

Me: “It didn’t say that, though. It just said to define them, and I did.”

Teacher: “You should have known.”

Me: “How?!”


Starting A New Trope

, , , , , | Learning | October 15, 2018

(During university, I work as a student assistant in my major department. We have one professor who has a particular list of instructions for tropes, etc., that he does NOT want his students to include in any of their final papers. He is tired of reading them and tries to encourage students to think outside the box. Luckily, he doesn’t dock points for using items on the list; he understands his isn’t the only class they take and with four or five final papers to do, students will sometimes rush and just try to fill in the word count. The number one item on the list is:)

Trope #1: “NO opening any paragraphs with dictionary definitions. (Example: The dictionary defines “courage” as…)”

(At the end of the semester, I am collecting final papers for one of his classes. Most students are choosing to turn them in electronically, but there are still a handful of people who insist on turning in hard copies. So, I set up office hours at the student assistant desk to collect them. At the very last minute, a girl comes running up to my desk and practically throws her paper at me.)

Student: “There! I made it!” *tosses her hair back* “I’d better get an A+ on that thing. I didn’t even want to take this stupid class, but my advisor said I had to.”

Me: “Uh-huh… Well, I’m glad you made it by the deadline.”

Student: “I mean it! I included everything he asked for.”

Me: *starting to pack up* “Well, I’m sure it will be fine… Wait. ‘Everything he asked for’?”

Student: “Yeah, on that dumb list he kept pushing at us.”

(I glanced down at her paper, which happened to be on top of the stack I was about to put in a folder, and the opening paragraph began with, “The dictionary defines courage as…” Her topic didn’t even have anything to do with courage. I started to tell the student her mistake, but she’d already walked away. I flipped through the rest of her paper, and it was filled with every single trope the professor didn’t want to see. I warned the professor about what had happened, and he actually found it pretty funny. I have no idea what that girl’s reaction was when she found out what she’d done, but I bet it was interesting. It’s not like the list was vague; it was filled with the words “NO,” “DON’T,” and, “DO NOT USE,” underlined in all caps.)

I Have A Couple Of Adjectives I Could Call You Right Now

, , , , , | Learning | August 4, 2018

(I play football in high school. One Friday, due to an away game, I have to miss my English class for the day. My teacher hands me a worksheet with the assignment she gave in class. The work sheet says to pick a “word” that begins with the first letter of our last name — F in my case — and write a paper about how that word defines part of our lives. Given my age and location, football is a very large part of my life — takes a lot of my time and has taught me a lot of lessons — so I write my paper on that word. On Monday we are to present our papers, what word we chose and why.)

Me: “…and that’s why I chose the word I did.”

Teacher: “Well, [My Name], that was a well-written piece, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to take off half of the credit since you didn’t follow directions.”

Me: “What do you mean?”

Teacher: “The assignment said to select an adjective, and ‘football’ is not an adjective.”

Me: “But the sheet you gave me just said, ‘word,’ not, ‘adjective.'”

Teacher: “Raise your hand if you understood the assignment as I gave it.”

(The rest of the class who were in class on Friday raise their hand in agreement.)

Teacher: “It seems everyone else was able to understand the assignment just fine. Perhaps you’ve taken too many blows to the head playing that game.”

(I ended up getting the fifty, despite my complaints to both her and the principal.)

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