Scenes From The Monkey House: Bonus Questions

One thing that I firmly believe is that teachers should help students cultivate an interest in their entire world, not just the narrow domain of the particular discipline they teach.  With this in mind, I put bonus questions on exams that are completely unrelated to anything scientific, but require a demonstration of other, equally important knowledge by my students. For those who might be interested, a list of previously used bonus questions:

  • Who is the governor of our state?
  • Name the two senators from our state.
  • Who is the Attorney General of the United States?
  • Name the three branches of government.
  • Write the key signature for a G major scale.
  • Translate the following phrase:  <insert simple phrase in french or Spanish here>.
  • Solve for x:  <insert simple algebraic equation here>.
  • List ten nations in <Africa/South America/Asia/Europe>.
  • Provide students with an unlabeled map of North America and have them label the USA, Canada and Mexico.
  • Provide students with an unlabeled map of the Middle East and have them label Iraq.

In all instances, the vast majority of students get them wrong.  Some people might find this sad, but personally I just get a good laugh from it.  Here are some questions from my most recent bonus, in the style of "name the countries on a different continent":

  • "Can we list rivers or desserts?"
  • "Are you sure the Amazon isn't in Africa?"
  • "I didn't know Egypt was in Africa"
  • "Why would I care about what happens in Zimbabwe?"
  • Offered as candidate nations on the Africa version:  Czechoslovakia, Bongo, Zemur, Toluloese
  • Offered as candidate nations on the South America version:  Portugal, Lithuania, Saudi Arabia, Amazon, Spanish Republic.

You can never go hungry for amusement underestimating the general ignorance of the average American teenager.

I hear that the weather in Bongo is lovely this time of year.

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