I have been cleaning frantically as I try to get ready for my last day of work. This means I have uncovered a huge array of strange and fascinating items, which I will now share for your edification (or horror). Today’s exhibit: the collection of misspellings and mistakes on a freshman biology human sexuality exam I gave in 1998.
I taught freshman biology for about 17 years before I completely burned out. (I started having dreams about photosynthesis where chloroplasts were threatening to knee-cap me. I took that as a sign it was time for a job change.)
Each semester we would drag the kids through a human sexuality unit in hopes of encouraging them to practice safe sex, as well as understand their hormone-raddled bodies better.
It was actually a lot of fun; I demonstrated that you can actually put over 2 liters of fluid inside a condom, so complaints they were ‘too tight’ was suspect. I made up “body fluids” which they could then exchange with other students (in paper cups!) to model sexually transmitted diseases. I explained that oral herpes could become genital herpes.
Yep, they liked those classes. And each year, that exam was consistently the one on which students would score the worst.
Was it because they thought they knew it all? Was it because the topic was too mortifying? I don’t know.
The question on the exam that destroyed them was the same each year: Here’s a diagram of the human male and female reproductive tract. Label some parts. The answers were just as hilarious as they were tragic:
Name two parts of the female external genitalia: clavicle and clitorium.
This gave rise to a behind-the-scenes plans among the instructors to start a sex shop called the Clitorium Emporium, BTW. If anyone registers that domain name, I expect a cut of the action.
Some of the other answers were a bit disturbing; the scrotum was labled as “sodom” fairly often.
Someone labeled the bladder on the male diagram as the uterus, even though there was a rather conspicuous dangly bit in front! It also was called the “Bilbo gland” once, which made me wonder if hobbits had hairy…no, never mind about that.
I suspect that this is simply a symptom of our uptight high school system and fear of teen sexuality. I know that I would not have passed this exam as a freshman. Hell, I didn’t learn that hermaphrodite, bisexual, and homosexual were not the same until I was at least a sophomore in college. Thanks Texas.
Was forcing these students to learn the names for the parts of their body worthwhile? Does using the proper names really matter?
I think so, even if it made some students very uncomfortable. I feel like we should at least give students an owner’s manual to their body, and make them learn the parts.
When did you learn all this stuff? How did you learn it?