Thursday, January 3, 2008

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Worst student sentences...revealed!!!

Last month, I asked professors to "post, in the comments, the single-worst sentence you have read in a student paper."

And lo, academics from around the land heard of this contest, and proffered their best quotes. And, lo, the results are in.....

And the result is..... a three-way tie!!!

Reading through the entries, it quickly became apparent that there were three different kind of bad sentences, each deserving of their own award.

The first kind relies on a really bad malapropism. The winner in this category is... from David Sousa:

Given politicians' efforts to maninpulate coverage, citizens cannot easily distinguish between fact and fornication.
The second kind relies on really, really bad writing. And the winner in this category is BN, who submitted the following sentence:
The Civil War lasted no more than four years, but the red and blue blood that was spilt will last a life time.
In the final and most difficult category, the writer must demonstrate a near-complete lack of factual or analytical control over the subject matter. And the hands-down winner in this category is Diodotus, with the following grad student sentence:
In order to make an intelligent argument, I determined that I first had to have a genuine understanding of the conflict. I sought this information in several books because I felt that they would be the most unbiased and factual.
Thanks to one and all for participating -- and students should not fear, as their opportunity to strike back will be coming tomorrow.

posted by Dan on 01.03.08 at 09:34 PM


Two short comments:

1) This post, my friends' direct experience and mine suggest that American universities are in general very, very, very bad in teaching. They are outstanding in research, but in teaching are not the best.
Suffice it to say that, my department required an entry test. Most of american students did not answer the question "what was the munich agreement". I studied IR, not biology.

2) When the contest "worst professor sentence?" :)


posted by: former grad on 01.03.08 at 09:34 PM [permalink]

I second the call for Bad Professor Sentences. The results would reveal that our literacy problems to be more fundamental and less laughable than a few flops by hapless students.

In the meantime, perhaps you could post video clips of kids falling as they learn to ride their bikes, so those of us who already ride can sneer at them too.

posted by: Trenchard Gordon on 01.03.08 at 09:34 PM [permalink]

Oh no: I missed the first call, and so was not able to enter this gem:

"Descartes divides the truths into three groups: true, false, and on slim grounds."

It has kept me smiling for years. I swear to God a student actually wrote it in a paper.

posted by: hilzoy on 01.03.08 at 09:34 PM [permalink]

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