Try as she might, our granddaughter couldn’t grasp the concept of potty training. Then one day … Success! Jumping up and down,
she threw her arms in the air
and yelled in excitement, “I went potty all by myself, and now I can
go to Harvard!”
Jan and Jack McCloskey,
San Francisco, California
Gauging from these exam
excerpts, my college dance students had better stick with pliés.
“The costumes were vindictive
of the style of dance.”
“I commend Bill T. Jones for
his acts of true kindness and
“Dancers must have long limps.”
“At first, I had a hard time
understanding and interrupting
“Savion Glover’s purpose is to cross all racial and ethical barriers with his dance.”
Kathy Dubois, Onalaska, Wisconsin
What’s the name of a
What part of the body is
affected by glandular fever?
A: The glandular.
In The Tempest, why does
Ariel sing in Gonzalo’s ear?
She’s a mermaid and wants to be human.
In comparison with large
hydrocarbons, how would you describe small hydrocarbons?
A: They’re smaller.
Who were the Bolsheviks?
A: A Russian ballet company.
From F in Exams: Pop Quiz,
by Richard Benson (Chronicle Books)
Student: I don’t understand why my grade was so low. How did
I do on my research paper?
Teacher: Actually, you didn’t turn in a research paper. You turned in a random assemblage of sentences. In fact, the
sentences you apparently
kidnapped in the dead of night
and forced into this violent and arbitrary plan of yours clearly seemed to be placed on the pages against their will. Reading your paper was like watching unfamiliar, uncomfortable people interacting at a cocktail party that no one wanted to attend in the first place. You didn’t submit a research paper. You submitted a hostage situation.
I’m now in high school, so when I ran into my third-grade teacher, I doubted she would remember me.
“Hi, Miss Butcher,” I said.
“Hi, Eddie,” she replied.
“So you do remember me?” I asked.
“Sure. You don’t always leave a good impression, but it is a lasting one.”
Edward McMurray, Wayne, Michigan
I don’t want to brag or make anybody jealous or anything, but
I can still fit into the earrings I wore in high school.
One hard thing to explain to teens is how legitimately exciting it used to be when someone would wheel in an overhead projector.
A mother complained to my wife,
a schoolteacher, that other students were stealing her daughter’s pencils.
“It’s not the money—it’s the
principle,” she insisted. “My husband took those pencils from work.”
Roger Prengel, Lacey, Washington
“Give me a sentence about a public servant,” the teacher instructed her second-grade student.
“The fireman came down the ladder pregnant,” he answered.
“Umm … Do you know what pregnant means?”
“Yes,” said the boy. “It means
carrying a child.”
Earl B. Child, Roy, Utah
I recently ran into an old student of mine, who said, “I always liked you. You never had favorites. You were mean to everyone.”
Lois Henry, Farmington, Maine
“Hurry up or we’ll be late!” shouts a teacher to her kindergarten class.
“What’s the rush?” a tot asks coolly.
“If we’re late, we’ll miss your next class!” the teacher reminds him.
The kid shrugs. “If you’re in such a hurry, go on without us.”
—Source: Funny in Thailand Survey
Why was the math book sad?
Because it had so many problems.
"How do you spell toad?" one of my first-grade students asked.
"We just read a story about a toad," I said, then helped him spell it out: "T-O-A-D."
Satisfied, he finished writing the story he’d begun, then read it aloud: "I toad my mama I wanted a dog for my birthday."
A month after Donald MacDonald started at Harvard, his mother called from Scotland. "And how are the American students, Donald?" she asked.
"They’re so noisy," he complained. "One neighbor endlessly bangs his head against the wall, while another screams all night."
"How do you put up with it?"
"I just ignore them and play my bagpipes."
After a day of listening to my eighth graders exchange gossip, I decided to quote Mark Twain to them: "It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt."
After considering my words, one of my students asked, "What does it mean to remove all doubt?"
During my eighth-grade sex education class, no one could answer the question "What happens to a young woman during puberty?" So I rephrased it: "What happens to young women as they mature?"
One student answered: "They start to carry a purse."
Question on second-grade math quiz: "Tony drank 1/6 of a glass of juice. Emily drank 1/4 of a glass of juice. Emily drank more. Explain."
My grandson’s answer: "She was more thirsty."
At a planning meeting at my college, I congratulated a colleague on producing some superb student-guidance notes explaining how to combat plagiarism.
"How long did it take you to write them?" I asked.
"Not long," he said. "I copied them from another university’s website."
When my summer teaching post in the Czech Republic came to an end, I told my students my next teaching destination would be in Australia, "the land down under." On my final day, they presented me with a card. The carefully worded note read "Good luck, and happy journey to the underworld."
During a lecture on the influence of media on teens, a typo in the PowerPoint presentation revealed the professor’s true opinion. The title read “Three Reasons Teens Are Vulnerable Toads.”