Teachers have to start off as students first. It's a whole "which came first chicken or egg scenario." You have to be educated in order to educate. Duh! We as students spend many a year bemoaning the assignments we have to suffer through. It never dawns on us that our teachers used to be in our desks one time or another as well. Maybe they give us these assignments to bestow upon us the patience they themselves had to cultivate or... it's revenge. Either way we all can relate.
One Redditor asked the educators of Reddit... Teachers of Reddit, what's the dumbest essay/assignment you've ever received?
Sometimes less is not more...
"There are dead things here and the soil looks like its washed away. Rivers here are nice and so is the weather. This is a nice place."
Full essay response, it was supposed to be a ten page paper (with charts and graphs and etc.). My roommate was the teacher for this, and its a college course.
This student sounds like a mix of Annie Wilkes from Misery and Lenny from Of Mice and Men.
Students were asked to write a literacy narrative where they discussed something or someone who impacted them as a reader and/or writer. In his first draft, one of my students wrote about having sex with a girl in the closet of his high school's band room. In my feedback, I reminded him that the topic had to relate to his literacy. He added a paragraph in his next draft explaining how it made him a better writer because it gave him a topic for the paper and it improved his ability to be descriptive because he told the story in vivid detail to many of his friends.
I like 'The Fly.'
There were short blog posts due weekly, each worth 1% adding up to 10 by the end of the semester. On the last week a student posted the entire bee movie script.
The first history essay I ever graded was back in teacher training about Sino-US relations in the 1900s. It started something like "Relations between the US and China were really tense during the 20th century. The worst bit was definitely when China attacked Pearl Harbor and the US retaliated with two nuclear bombs." IIRC this was followed by a lot of good solid information and I had a hard time figuring out what a fair grade would be.
I can add a few more details since so many people were interested. The author of the essay was a first year student in a Finnish lukio, which is usually translated as high school. He was probably 15-17 depending on the time of year and his birthday. It was the type of essay where you sit down for an exam and write down everything you know about the topic without books or notes, so plagiarism is pretty hard to pull off. It's much more likely that he mixed up some detail in a temporary brainfart, but remembered certain parts well because the teacher had explained it in a memorable way or he had just read it in a book the night before.
This was some years ago, so I don't remember what grade the essay got. It wasn't my call anyway, since we teacher students were grading them as practice before discussing what we would've given each with their actual teacher.
Oh and I wasn't a teacher in the 1900s, although at least in the Finnish reckoning this statement would've been true even if I worked briefly in 1999. Similar to English we don't have a non-awkward way of referring to the first decade of the last or current century.
I got this?
I was proctoring a us history regents exam for a student with test read and scribe modifications. The thematic essay had something to do with war. He coolly leaned back in his chair, cracked his knuckles, and proclaimed, "I got this."
He began quickly dictating a rather elegant monologue that was well spoken, but way off topic. I had to ask him to slow down or repeat himself. He was a rather eclectic kid but this was speech that was a bit out of his wheelhouse.
After the exam I googled the first sentence of his essay. He plagiarized the entire opening monologue from Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2.
In undergrad there was a rich kid who used to pay me to write his papers for a bullshit intro creative writing-type class. Anyway we had a decent arrangement, $75/page with a $50 bonus if I got an A. On one paper he screwed me on the money because the assignment was 4 pages minimum and I wrote 5. He didn't think he should have to pay the extra page, as it was over the minimum. On top of that I found out he had gotten an A- and told me it was a straight B. I was super pissed so for the next assignment I wrote a 3 page piece on how 70's porn legend John Holmes and his giant penis was his hero, discussed Holmes' tragic life, and then dedicated a page+ to discussing how he purchased a John Holmes endorsed penis pump and how often he worked at growing his small penis. I made no effort to make the paper sound like him and the assignment had nothing to do with the topic, I just wanted him to go along thinking the work was covered and then read it and have to write one himself last minute. Welp, he never read it. Just turned it in. The following week the teacher handed it back and made him read it to the class, and we never worked together again. F you, Pete. You still owe me $125.
The devil is in the details... it's called Google!
I teach history at a local community college and you wouldn't believe some of the takes people have on historical figures.
Being in the Deep South, I'm used to the ole "Lincoln was a dictator" and "Sherman was a war criminal" stuff, but "Ancient Rome was a black civilization" probably takes the cake in terms of vagueness of sources and why on earth that needs to be debated in the first place.
"Cells are bad. My uncle lives in a cell. It's ten foot by twelve and he has to read the same boring, old magazine everyday. The end."
Are you for real?
Environmental Science course, college level. Essay question asked them to describe why agricultural pollution is different in the S. Hemisphere vs the N hemisphere (less landmass and different agricultural practices in developing countries). One student said that is was because "gravity pulls the pollution to the southern part of the earth because gravity pulls things down."
I like to think I was being trolled, but this was on the final exam and I'm not sure he would have had the stones to risk his grade on a deliberately stupid answer.
This Takes The... Muffin?
College course, freshman orientation kind of thing. "This Is What College Will Demand" for students who weren't quite ready for 101. Assigned them an introductory short essay about anything they wanted. Just something they're interested in, let me see what I'm working with. One of the essays read, verbatim, "I am interest in blueberry muffin. Like how they round on top and ripped on the side. That what I like." Kept that one on my fridge.
I once turned in a 500 word essay over what leadership meant to me. At one point in the essay I wrote "Here are 87 synonyms for the word 'leadership' in alphabetical order." I got a B.
An 'A' for Dr. Quinn...
We had just spent a week over Henry VIII this week ( AS IN THIS HAPPENED TODAY) , to show that the students could demonstrate knowledge over the subject matter they had a choice of assignments they could do. One of the choices was to write a brief summary, or draw something that related to one of Henry VIII's wives. Following that they had to write a quote at the bottom of the page. A kid wrote a quote from Jane Seymour. Which sounds great until you realize she wrote a quote from the actress, not the 3rd wife of Henry VIII. In case you are wondering the quote was "Even though I make those movies, I find myself wishing that more of those magic moments could happen in real life."
It's the cliff notes grading system...
Not a teacher, but there was one time a professor said he'd only look at the cover page, first page, and works cited. The topic was hard to research and write on because there weren't many scholarly sources, and we had to turn it in as a paper copy with no digital file. I did the cover page, sources cited, wrote half page of content and blew it up enough to cover the first page, and I left the rest of the pages blank. Got an A on the paper and in the class.
I knew someone in high school who got drunk before doing an assignment on future careers he'd be interested in. He wound up writing about how he'd like to be a porn star. After the teacher graded it he took the moron aside and asked him just what the hell he was thinking, and he had to try and explain himself without mentioning that he'd been drunk because he underage.
I still don't understand why he turned in the assignment in the first place. Surely a zero was better than that.
Not such a great Wizard... is he?
Not a teacher but a kid in my senior English class(smart kid mind you) thought he'd be a smarta** and do his senior paper on the Harry Potter series
He assumed that because he was a smart kid and loved Harry Potter, it would be super easy. He ended up procrastinating a ton and got a C- on it.
At least it wasn't worse, he could've gotten expelled.
A million $$ idea...
I wrote my college entrance essay on toilet bowls and how I think they should be shaped to minimize splash back and leg cramps.
I still got in so thats great, but it was one of my worst ideas.
I mean, it's an appliance that nearly everyone in the first world uses multiple times a day. I don't see what discussing improvements should be a bad thing. Doing so, especially given that it's a taboo topic, in a practical way shows maturity. Even if it was in a not really practical way, I'm sure college entrance exam readers are bored to tears hearing about life changing and inspiring overcoming of obstacles... as long as the mechanics, grammar, spelling, structure were fine it might have gotten you in on sheer novelty.
Retina -vs- Cornea
I am still studying to be a teacher, and have had multiple short internships so far. In my last one I gave out an assignment that involved answering questions that could easily be answered by opening a textbook, or looking for it on the internet.
One of the questions was: What is the difference between the retina and the cornea?
One of my students answered the question with "the name and the definition."
Got a good laugh out of it.
Don't trust Rule 34!
Was a TA/tutor for a 200 level college writing class. One of the guys i tutored handed me a 100% genuine examination of Brony culture. Not only a breakdown of characters and the show, but a discussion about the actual fandom from popular websites, fan creators, community hubs, significant events in the fandom's lifespan, and the significance of ahem "rule 34" content.
I had people give me essays on shows/anime/fandoms before, but particular one was... hard to chew through.
What a space cadet...
I once gave a writing assignment for the students to tell what they wanted to be when they grew up. One student said he wanted to be an astronaut. He said he would build the rocket in his back yard, and it would shoot him right up to the moon. He said he would survive by eating moon rocks. He was a senior in high school.
This why I hate PE!
We had a first aid section in gym class. For the CPR exam, we were moved to a classroom at the bottom of 3 steps. Everyone had a head and a lung bag, but the dummy body was outside, by the steps. The teacher would call on a student, they'd go out, and he'd test them.
This one kid goes out, says "This guy might have fallen down the stairs, I can't do CPR. I'm calling 911 and waiting for the paramedics." (Because if there's a possibility of neck / spine injury, moving a person is only going to make it worse.) He passed, but teacher announced that said stunt would only be accepted once.