Sometimes teaching a freshman-level college course feels like a game of Chinese Whispers. I give the students the information, but the information isn’t the same when I grade their exams. Some of the words are recognizable, but the message got lost. I’m pretty sure that this results from trying to cram thousands of years of history into one study session the night before the exam. The product of these all-night cramming sessions can sometimes be startling and amusing.

Here is a sample of statements in exams and essays from my sections of “Western Civilization I” for the 2014–2015 academic year, along with my reactions.

1. “Ziggurat was a Pharaoh.”

giphy (13)

Actually. Pharaoh is Pharaoh. Ziggurat is a building.

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