student bloopers

I spent all of yesterday deciphering the hand writing on my students’ exams. It was worth it, for I happened upon this gem:

“God allows evil to exist although He can easily defeat goodness.” Well sure, but why would he want to? On the other hand, this does explain the success rate of Cleveland sports.

Another student apparently thought that felix culpa, the Latin phrase for “happy fault,” was a person, for she wrote that “The contrast view originated from felix culpa.” I’ve met kids with bizarre names, but this one would be especially hard to overcome. Imagine starting every day with “Good morning, Happy Fault.”

These funnies reminded me of my all-time favorite bloopers, so here, in memory of a satisfying semester and the hope of a productive summer, are my top ten mistakes from my student’s papers (with my commentary following each one).

10. “Even though having sex with someone other than your spouse is adulatory…”

He meant to say adultery, but instead wrote “something worthy of high praise.”

9. “Before the tree, Adam enjoyed sex without knowing that Eve was naked.”

Adam was one dumb guy.

8. “Progress was replaced with repetition.  It could be said that the most famed scholars perpetually graduated from the School of Redundancy School.”

This one speaks for itself.

7. “Urbanization and telecommunication have effectively brought the world to our living room and even our front door.”

If it’s already in your living room, the front door is a moot issue.

6. “Rogers has stumbled upon, what I believe to be, the side effects of the church’s attempt to beat believers into submission.”

Isn’t the point behind a beating the beating itself?  Does one really care about the side effects?  I’ve never heard anyone say, “Too bad about those side effects, otherwise I would have really enjoyed that beating.”

5. In 1059 Anselm made his way to the Benedictine abbey of Bec in Normandy.  The following year Anselm entered the abbey.

He shouldn’t have waited so long to knock.

4. “Erasmus and Luther exchanged monograms concerning the ability of man’s will.”

The student meant to say monographs, but instead had Erasmus and Luther swapping initials. “I don’t want to distract from our very important dialogue, but I would like to trade you my Gothic ‘L’ for your Helvetica ‘E.’”

3. “The power of Christ could not be overcome by Satin’s power of death.”

That 800 thread count is a killer.

2. “Notice the tow ‘ifs.’”

If you want someone to notice a specific word, don’t misspell the word right before it.  Because that’s all they’ll see.

And my all-time favorite, submitted by Craig Jarvis, a terrific pastor in Chicago who is still brings this up every time we talk…

1. “Many ill-informed churches have swallowed a popularized notion that John Calvin was a harsh man who taught that much like a rosy-cheeked Santa, with a wink and a nod, God damned crates of humans to hell.

Someone is harboring some bad Christmas memories. Can you imagine little Craig walking with his parents through the mall? “Look, Craig. It’s Santa!” “No, not Santa! Aieeeaahhhh!”

11 Comments

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  1. Adding insult to injury, here’s a section from a former student’s paper: “I love to look around and wonder why things are they way they are. Obviously I know that God created all things and all people, however I just wonder where and when did that person come up with Google or who got to name the animals? Why was I not given a call to name my own animal? …These are all the questions that I have and I am sure that you have as well. These are the questions that you can expect to find answers to while studying philosophy. You may not find all the answers but you will defiantly understand the basics of philosophy….Some of the other things you can expect to learn in philosophy are the benefits of studying philosophy and why you even have to study philosophy.”

    Where do I begin?

  2. Chris, the worst part is you will probably be unable to convince this student that this paragraph needs work. He will likely think you are a stern, subjective grader, and he just needs to figure out what you want. Sigh.

  3. Jonathan Shelley May 8, 2012 — 11:35 am

    Mike,

    As bad as Felix Culpa may be as a name, I think it’s better than Mea Maximo Desiderium.

    Chris, at least the student knows that we “defiantly understand the basics of philosophy.”

  4. Those are classic. I’m glad to see I didn’t make the list…

  5. Hi, Dr. Wittmer — I just re-discovered your blog through my dad (John Dubois) and caught up a little bit. I found many posts especially encouraging…thanks! Hope all is well with you and your family!

  6. Two that have made me laugh the hardest:

    1. The question asked students to write “Let there be light” in Hebrew. The correct answer is יהי אור. But one student wrote יהי עור, which although can be pronounced the same way in some pronunciation schemes, actually means, “Let there be leather”.

    2. “Kish urged his son, Saul, to go and find the monkeys that had been lost.” Things that make you go “m”.

  7. Regarding #3, that was even with Satan using a “cheat sheet.”

  8. Number 5 – so funny.

    Number 1 – ‘crates’ of humans? Like UPS, only more evil. I have heard Santa Claus referred to as ‘Satan’s Claws’ by some Christians. Perhaps it’s true.

    Loved the bloopers posts. I was having a pretty bad day, but I am much more cheerful now, thanks.

  9. Some of these aren’t bloopers:

    Santa, for instance – “you better watch out…” he looks jolly, but spies on kids and “he knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake!” Threats galore hidden under a jolly exterior – that sounds like many people’s caricature of God.

    Anslem taking a while to enter the abbey – while going to Normandy in 1059, he didn’t become a monk at Bec until 1060 (found after a quick Google). Lots of reasons why, not least the Benedictine rule not letting you in (fight club like) until a while had passed to show you really want to be a monk.

    and “School of Redundancy School” is clearly a joke. See TV tropes’ page on “Department for Redundancy Dept.”, for instance.

  10. Do NOT go to tv tropes! You’ll waste a week in wiki walking!

  11. Can you explain to me how the pastor “is still brings this up”? That’s the most confusing combination of verb tenses I’ve seen all week!

    Seriously, though, enjoyed the post a lot, I just also enjoyed that, in a post dedicated to pointing out student bloopers, there’s an obvious and distracting blooper.

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