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Stupid Things History Students Say

Today I bring you a document that was created before the widespread use of the internet. It’s an article written by a history professor that explains European history using verbatim quotes from the papers handed in by his students over the years. Much hilarity is to be found there.

History, as we know, is always bias, because human beings have to be studied by other human beings, not by independent observers of another species.

During the Middle Ages, everybody was middle aged. Church and state were co-operatic. Middle Evil society was made up of monks, lords, and surfs. It is unfortunate that we do not have a medivel European laid out on a table before us, ready for dissection. After a revival of infantile commerce slowly creeped into Europe, merchants appeared. Some were sitters and some were drifters. They roamed from town to town exposing themselves and organized big fairies in the countryside. Mideval people were violent. Murder during this period was nothing. Everybody killed someone. England fought numerously for land in France and ended up wining and losing. The Crusades were a series of military expaditions made by Christians seeking to free the holy land (the “Home Town” of Christ) from the Islams…

The Middle Ages slimpared to a halt. The renasence bolted in from the blue. Life reeked with joy. Italy became robust, and more individuals felt the value of their human being. Italy, of course, was much closer to the rest of the world, thanks to northern Europe. Man was determined to civilise himself and his brothers, even if heads had to roll! It became sheik to be educated. Art was on a more associated level. Europe was full of incredable churches with great art bulging out their doors. Renaissance merchants were beautiful and almost lifelike.

The Reformnation happened when German nobles resented the idea that tithes were going to Papal France or the Pope thus enriching Catholic coiffures. Traditions had become oppressive so they too were crushed in the wake of man’s quest for ressurection above thenot-just-social beast he had become. An angry Martin Luther nailed 95 theocrats to a church door. Theologically, Luthar was into reorientation mutation. Calvinism was the most convenient religion since the days of the ancients. Anabaptist services tended to be migratory. The Popes, of course, were usually Catholic.

Aren’t you glad you know that?

Comments

  1. zippythepinhead says

    “Some were sitters and some were drifters.” — and some were pickers and some were grinners and some were lovers and some were sinners and some were jokers and some were smokers or midnight tokers.

    What do you call 95 theocrats nailed to a church door? — A good start.

  2. mildlymagnificent says

    I’m having some trouble envisaging what an enriched coiffure might look like.

  3. says

    I always wondered if this was an urban legend, I remember reading this back in the early 80s when it was published in the Washington Post (with no source given, of course).

  4. sc_83020c6545a7be5f12c0e4cf645fd913 says

    They left out my favorite one… “Luther died a horrible death, having been excommunicated by a bull.”

  5. Artor says

    I had to explain to someone that the Middle Ages really happened. An adult woman actually thought it was all fantasy from romance novels. She was Mormon, and didn’t have any education past high school, but still, my mind was boggled. Also, who is this Malcom the Tenth guy?

  6. peterh says

    “What do you call 95 theocrats nailed to a church door? — A good start.”

    Wins the thread.

  7. bobaho says

    I am with Trebuchet on this one. Despite being in the reputable Wilson Quarterly, this looks to be a legend. I TA’d undergraduate Art History for a couple of years, and read quite a bit of undergraduate work for other professors. Never did I read anything remotely close to this, and none of the professors ever could give me more than vague instances of this occurring. I suspect the professor was looking for a book deal and perhaps found some cherries to pick; but for the rest, I suspect they are fiction. Anyone catch the date: Spring 1983? Isn’t the month April in the spring?

  8. hunter says

    I’ve read a similar exercise, also published by a history professor. That one included a map of the world as described by his students. This was during the Iraq war, and 70% of them didn’t know where Iraq was.

    And these were college students.

  9. kantalope says

    I dunno – over time you could get some amazing stuff. I only graded for one semester and got some good stuff:

    “Hitler tried to take over Europe when he got high enough”

    “The nazis were a race of airians that tried to take over the world”

    and that was only one test.

  10. daved says

    I’d believe almost anything could be written by students, even college students, no matter how ridiculous, if it were about geography. My dad, a retired agriculture professor, used to give out a geography quiz at the start of his course on tropical crops, just to see how much the students (mostly juniors and seniors) knew about world geography.

    The questions would involve things like showing the directions that rivers flow, and locating various countries, all on a world map. This, of course, was given in class, no reference materials permitted.

    Errors were numerous and often egregious; my personal favorite was the map where the student had the Nile flowing south (and thus draining the Mediterranean Sea).

  11. says

    I had a great history teacher in high school who, to the delight and embarrassment of the classroom, would read the choice wrong answers after tests. This reads like a collection of his top ten.

  12. says

    When I was in high school, if I didn’t know the answer on a test I would amuse myself by writing something ridiculous. I would have Shakespeare characters dueling with .45 caliber pistols and such. I mean, wrong is wrong, might as well have a little fun.
    Don’t recognize any of those as mine, though.

  13. naturalcynic says

    The Popes, of course, were usually Catholic.

    Occasionally, bears would dump in the dumps.

  14. M Groesbeck says

    The German Emperor’s lower passage was blocked by the French for years and years.

    Right about there is where I lost it and started laughing out loud.

  15. Stevarious says

    Theologically, Luthar was into reorientation mutation.

    Damn, no wonder Superman is always after him.

  16. says

    When I was in high school, if I didn’t know the answer on a test I would amuse myself by writing something ridiculous. I would have Shakespeare characters dueling with .45 caliber pistols and such. I mean, wrong is wrong, might as well have a little fun.

    Michael Bay, is that you?

  17. PatrickG says

    @ yoav: Please tell me those tweets aren’t real. Please. Please. Debunk that now, have mercy, oh please.

  18. Midnight Rambler says

    I always wondered if this was an urban legend, I remember reading this back in the early 80s when it was published in the Washington Post (with no source given, of course).

    Yeah, my high school history teacher passed around a typewritten version of it in class, circa 1988. According to that it was “compiled by Professor Solomon Katz, Department of History, University of Washington, from numerous undergraduate term papers over a period of approximately five years.” The part Ed posted is less than a third, the whole thing goes up through WWII, when

    Germany was morbidly overexcited and unbalanced. Berlin became the decadent capital, where all forms of sexual deprivations were practised. A huge anti-semantic movement arose. Attractive slogans like “Death to all Jews” were used by governmental groups. Hitler remilitarized the Rineland over a squirmish between Germany and France. The appeasers were blinded by the great red of the Soviets. Moosealini rested his foundation on 8 million bayonets and invaded Hi Lee Salasy. Germany invaded Poland, France invaded Belgium, and Russia invaded everybody.

  19. Reginald Selkirk says

    #23 feralboy12: When I was in high school, if I didn’t know the answer on a test…

    That never happened to me.

  20. billydee says

    I once took a course called “German Operatic Libretti as Literature.” Part of the final was a list of characters from operas. We had to tell what opera they came from, who wrote the opera, when it was written, and the character’s importance in the opera. I totally blanked on one character’s name, so I made up a whole opera. I wrote two pages about the fake opera. I still got an A on the exam.

  21. Suido says

    Some of it reads like ESL students with the right ideas and an over-reliance on bad dictionary usage, which is kind of excusable. Other bits not so much.

  22. DaveL says

    Anabaptist services tended to be migratory

    European Anabaptists, of course. As everyone knows, African Anabaptists are non-migratory.

  23. Stevarious says

    Anabaptist services tended to be migratory

    European Anabaptists, of course. As everyone knows, African Anabaptists are non-migratory.

    Ah, but what’s the airspeed velocity of an unladen Anabaptist?

  24. gerryl says

    This piece is similar to a chapter in Richard Lederer’s “Anguished English.” (My favorite in that one is “Sir Francis Drake circumcised the world with a 100-foot clipper.”)

    I always keep a copy of Anguished English close at hand. You can open it up to any page soon start laughing. I have bought several copies and given them to people who are dealing with serious illness.

    Ed, you probably know of Lederer’s son and daughter who, I believe, are well-known poker players.

  25. =8)-DX says

    @Trebuchet’s link
    “Socrates was a famous Greek teacher who went around giving people advice. They killed him. Socrates died from an overdose of wedlock.”
    Stiches, man, stiches =D

  26. Nancy New, Queen of your Regulatory Nightmare says

    I had a whole collection of quotes from student papers, from the 80’s–only these were from film and play reviews by theatre appreciation students.

    “I was rivited out of my seat by laughter” was one I treasured.

  27. jeffreykramer says

    @billydee 37: was it anything like Robert Benchley’s Die Meister-Genossenschaft? (“Act 2: A Mountainpass. Repenting of her deed, Immerglück has sought advice of the giants, Offen and Besitz, and they tell her that she must procure the magic zither which confers upon its owner the power to go to sleep while apparently carrying on a conversation….”)

  28. pipenta says

    I didn’t teach but one term, but I saw some amazing answers. I did not expect college kids to be so thick. I guess I figured that if they were chunking out the tuition, they’d care a little bit. Yeah.

    I was not experienced. I had, I thought, done a decent enough job of explaining the concepts. I showed a series of images of animals and asked the students to identify the type of symmetry. So help me, they could not do it. And I’d cut out snowflakes, hearts and paper dolls to lock in the difference between radial and bilateral. Grading the exams was a demoralizing experience. About forty exams in, you start to get a little punchy when it seems that no one has studied anything at all. A couple of students made a vague effort. Instead of bilateral, one wrote “unilateral”. But the best was the student who wrote that a flatworm had bicentennial symmetry.

    I laughed so hard that I gave him half credit.

  29. joe_k says

    England fought numerously for land in France and ended up wining and losing

    To be fair, this part is broadly correct…

    The whole thing reminds me of 1066 And All That, personally.

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