Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Cultural Literacy Humor (Straight from the Minds of High School Freshmen)

To ensure that my students understand allusions (and can laugh at Far Side jokes), I’ve always required them to study cultural literacy.

We spend just a minute or two each day going over the day’s term. We discuss terms in categories such as Mythology/Folklore, Psychology/Sociology, World Religions, Idioms, Proverbs, Arts/Entertainment, Philosophy/World Literature, and Bible.

At the end of each category, I give a cultural literacy test. Usually, I have students draw six terms from a bucket and write everything they know about five of them. Over the years, I’ve kept a collection of funny responses. The ones below are all actual answers high school freshmen gave on the Bible category test.

By submitting the following answers, my students have taught me that spelling matters:

Job had lots of patients.

God tested Job to see if he was really fateful.

Sodom and Gomorrah were two cities full of since.

A snake came to Eve, but he was really Satin.

The Lamb of God was cursived for our sins.

Soldiers put a crown of thorns on Jesus’ head and moked him.

By submitting these answers, my students have reminded me that it’s important to quote and attribute quotations accurately:

God said something like, “Here is my blood. Drink it.”

Jesus said, “An eye for an eye and a cheek for a cheek.”

With these answers, my students have proven that it’s important to know who your characters are:

Samson and Delilah were two brothers.

Sodom had very long hair.

Samson was a strong man, and Delilah was the giant he killed.

Cain and Abel taught us how to get along well with others.

Judas told the Punish Pilot where Jesus was.

The Beatitudes were the twelve disciples.

Finally, one student’s test answer even reminded me of the importance of verb tense:

Armageddon was the end of the world.

In next week’s blog, I’ll provide you with some of my cultural literacy lists and with details about how I implement them. For now, though, I hope you enjoyed some Cultural Literacy Humor!