Final Foibles ’09

The only thing that keeps me going during the horrible few days of finals is the search for fantastic sentences that make me laugh so hard I weep.  (otherwise, I’d just weep…)  So I’ve started to chronicle these little gems that my students provide.  And before some deeply well-meaning commenter, most likely a hapless student, chimes in here to tell me what a horrible human I am for doing this, let me just say that if you had to read almost a thousand pages of student writing in 48-ish hours, you too would be a little on the edge.  (If you doubt my commitment to my students, please read this and then check out the rest of this blog before you get all righteous in the comment section.)*    I tell my students in advance of each paper that funny errors will be preserved for all time in my files, so they know the risks.  

And the 2009 winners are:

In the Circular Argument Category (With bonus points for an additional Huh? clause):

 “A group of woman formed a club to maintain the cleanliness of the streets by keeping the streets clean, and reinforcing morality and good domestic skills through pictures displayed in public classrooms.”

Yes, forming a club to clean the streets by cleaning the streets is the perfect way to keep the streets clean.  

In the Air Supply Category: (Writing a Paper out of  Nothing At All)

“Women have come along way in history in terms of fighting for their self respect and equal opportunity.  They have impacted a variety of issues that have been a concern for many years.”

In the Inside Outside Category:

“Technologies like computers create problems for women because they portray the desire to have a perfect body and exemplify this through models and women that are not average.  Along with computers are TVs, they show advertisements that encourage change within your outer appearance.” 

I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking to change within my outer appearance. 

In the History Comic Book (Anti)Hero Category: 

“In Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s A Midwife’s Tale, she take the reader through the life of a midwife in the late Eighteenth Century and early Nineteenth Century. [Martha Ballard, the midwife] challenged these socially constructed roles, not in an evil way, but in away that was positive for females.” 

Yes, watch out all you females of the past, Martha Ballard and her Evil Death Canoe are coming for you.  

In the Confusing Canonical Texts Category: (with bonus points for excessive literality)

“In the creation story man was here first and from man came women.  This is unrealistic because biologically women must give birth to men.  This is not the only place in the bible where women were not treated correctly.  The statement ‘all men are created equal’ completely leaves out women.” 

Yes, you can find this discriminatory text in the infrequently cited biblical Book of Jefferson, 17:76.  

Crowning Glory Extra Super Grand Prize (For Creative use of Spontaneous Combustion):

“Women’s clothing was very complex, and caused public embarrassment while they got in and out of carriages or happened to catch on fire.” 


And finally, just so you all don’t think I’m a complete failure as a teacher, here’s an actual fantastic sentence written by one of my students: 

“American women have adapted varied strategies to translate their power within the private sphere to affect changes in the public sphere.  Using their responsibilities to protect and nurture their families as justification, these women demonstrated their ability to mobilize politically through existing social networks forged through their involvement in the private sphere.” 


* Sorry for the disclaimer, but every year somebody writes a response about how mean and terrible I am for making fun of these students’ sentences.  I thought this year I’d try to head that off in advance.


2 responses to “Final Foibles ’09

  1. Anonymous Adjunct 17

    Fabulous. My best exam sentence this year came in an ID on Joseph Smith, and went like this (quoting from memory):

    “While practicing polygamy, Smith was shot in the head by an angry mob.”

    Second place:

    “Mormons lived a strict lifestyle including temperance and polygamy.”

  2. You know, I did some research on Victorian hoop skirts and some women were indeed: dragged under carriage wheels; combusted by dinner candles; blown off the seawall at Exeter. Good times.

    These are soooooo funny.

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