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ART LEE: The (unexpected) 'thrills' of teaching history

Retirement-time for school teachers includes the required chore of cleaning out your desk and the contents of your filing cabinet. It's the teacher's job who follows you to fill up both of them again, and for that new person to believe foolishly that retirement will never happen to him/her for at least a 100 years. Retirees like to believe that they are irreplaceable. They quickly learn the nonsense of that notion. They also learn that over many years they have acquired so much stuff of importance that that too is irreplaceable. Wrong. Another lesson quickly learned is that their acquired "treasures" are mainly junk that is of no value anymore to them or to anyone else. Away with it all! Oops.

But what about those few files you want to keep? Hmmmm. Among my few keepers was a fat file with the heading Student Test Answers. Now to relay only a few of those "answers," some responses so goofy and/or so dumb that oddly enough they deserve keeping—or such is the lie you tell yourself.

Anyway, so that the reader might also share vicariously the thrills of teaching history, the following test answers from my freshmen students are presented. (Because these "answers" are now nearly 20 years old, it's safe to go public with these responses that border on the lugubrious. They are too precious not to be shared.

Also the word SIC means "that's the way they were!")

Q: List three American Indian Tribes.

A: The Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria.

Q. What happened to Sen. LaFollette for his opposing U.S. entrance into WWI?

A. They hanged him in Effigy, Wisconsin.

Q. What does the term faux pas mean?

A. It means a social plunder, or else it was a French cigar.

Q. Who was Charles XIII?

A. Some nut who came to the thrown (sic) of Sweden

Q. Define the term "titular leader"

A. A leader whose title isn't spelled right

Q. What were the French salons?

A. Dirty bars where nasty men came to drink booze

Q. What was the role of Electors in Italy?

A. They picked the Pope and all of his descendants (sic)

Q. Define "reactionary wing" in politics

A. These are Republicans always reacting to money

Q. Identify Gavrilo Princip

A. He assassenated (sic) the arch Bishop of Serbia

Q. Identify Wallis Warfield Simpson

A. She is the man who gave up his thrown (sic)

Q. Who was Andrew Carnegie?

A. Through his efforts the steel industry plunged ever upward

Q. Identify Leonard Bernstein

A. Were it not for Leonard and Bernstein, Watergate would never have been investigeted (sic)