When I was an undergrad at USF, you either had to pass a swimming test, swimming
the length and back in an Olympic-size pool, or take a PE swimming course and
learn four strokes. I could barely dog-paddle, so I had to take the course.
I never did learn to do the breast stroke and so was prepared to fail the course
and suffer through it again the next semester. During the final exam, I competently
used the other three strokes to get across the pool—sidestroke, backstroke,
crawl—and left the one I could not do to last. I was at the starting point,
debating whether to climb out and confess or to risk to drowning and humiliation,
but a loud clap of thunder saved me. The instructor said, "Okay, everybody
out of the pool! Barb, you pass; the rest of you come back tomorrow to do your
To pay for graduate school, I was teaching a freshman level writing course in the evenings and substitute teaching on days I did not have to attend classes. One substitute teaching experience was so amazing that I told my writing class about it:
I did not know that I had been called to teach a special education class, but
when I got to the school, the principal and I encountered a young man in the
hallway and he introduced us. “John, this is Mr. McLay. He’s going
to be your teacher today. “
“Yeah,” answered John, hanging his head.
“Mr. McLay doesn’t know how smart you are, John. Why don’t
you tell him the square root of 2025?”
“Forty-five,” John answered immediately in a bored voice. I certainly
can’t do square roots in my head, but I could multiply and know that he
The principal had John do a couple more square roots, and then asked me, “When
were you born, Mr. McLay?”
“December 1, 1969,” I told him.
“Monday,” John muttered without hesitation. I was flabbergasted!
This is an almost impossible calculation to do without a computer.
At this point in my story to my writing class, a young woman exclaimed incredulously,
“You were born in the sixties?”
Please share with us your funny classroom experiences or faux pas from students’ papers. Send contributions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put “LCN Humor” as the subject.
Questions or comments? Contact the author at email@example.com.