20 Times Teachers Were Stunned By The Stupidity Of Their Students

Teachers encounter all kinds of student behavior, from very smart answers to completely confused ones. But sometimes, students surprise their teachers with extreme silliness. That’s why patience is a virtue, especially if you work in education.

Reddit user u/12345burrito asked teachers to share honest stories about moments that made them seriously question their students’ intelligence. Scroll down for some candid stories about the strangest things students said or did, leaving their teachers wondering if they were being pranked.


1. What does Surname mean?

Image source:RDNE Stock project / pexels (not the actual photo)

CanadaRu: Handed out an exam…in University. 6 hands that went up instantly…I pointed to one of them and said “yes”. She asked “What does Surname mean?”…I paused, and answered it calmly…”it’s your last name”. The other 5 hands went down. I thought to myself….f**k we’ve lowered the bar.

2. Students can’t save word docs as pdfs

Image source: Zen Chung / pexels (not the actual photo)


howgirlgetpragnant: College instructor, you would be shocked. Just last year: multiple students can’t save word docs as pdfs, students take smartphone pictures of every single slide while I lecture even though I upload them to our LMS.


Personal favorite: when asked to insert a picture into a word document, one student prints the word doc, prints the picture, puts the picture on the word doc, takes a smartphone picture and uploads the file.


Miss my millennial students.

3. One of my sixth graders had a brain fart moment

Image source: Dominika Roseclay / pexels (not the actual photo)


TheDarklingThrush: Couldn’t remember the word for ‘suspenders’. Called them farmer straps (complete with hooking his thumbs through his imaginary suspenders and moving his hands up and down, like an old guy wearing suspenders might do), and I laughed so hard I cried and almost fell outta my damn chair.


4. Statue of liberty was in pearl harbor

Image source: Marianna / pexels (not the actual photo)


mglitcher: My dad is a history teacher and he had a student tell him the statue of liberty was in pearl harbor.

5. During a unit on Vietnam

Image source: Tima Miroshnichenko / pexels (not the actual photo)


jbp84: During a unit on Vietnam I was discussing the number of bombs dropped by the US and a student asked me if all those bombs are what killed the dinosaurs.


Had another student ask if Pearl Harbor was still alive after doing a mini-lesson on it last December. She thought it was a woman’s name.


I have a lot more but those are my two most recent, egregiously dumb ones.

6. I gave a lab quiz on the Density and Buoyancy lab we had done the week before

Image source: Martin Damboldt / pexels (not the actual photo)

paleo2002: I teach Intro. Geology. I gave a lab quiz on the Density and Buoyancy lab we had done the week before. One of the questions asked how are we able to build ships out of steel, considering that we measured steel to be more dense than water the week before.


Almost the entire class gave variants of “The ocean is so big compared to a boat, that all the water is able to keep the boat afloat . . .” as an answer. I get some version of this answer every semester, but it really struck me because so many of them put it. (And they weren’t just copying each other.)


This school happens to be right next to a bay. So I took a large, uninteresting rock from the prep room and marched the students outside to the bay. I said “This rock is about 8 kilos and has a density of about 2.4 g/cc. But, according to your last test responses, the bay is so big that it should float . . .” I threw the rock into the bay and we all patiently waited for it to bob back up to the surface.


7. Africa is a country

Image source: RDNE Stock project / pexels (not the actual photo)


Allredditorsarewomen: I teach on the college level and students try to convince me dumb stuff is true a lot. At least once a semester a student will try to fight with me saying Africa is a country.

8. When teaching a health class to sixth grade girls

Image source: MART PRODUCTION / pexels (not the actual photo)


mrskatv: When teaching a health class to sixth grade girls and having to stop and explain that babies don’t actually grow in a stomach and they have 3 exits in their nether regions.


They literally had no clue about their own anatomy.


Parents, please talk to your children about this stuff. Get them a book. Something. They need to know this stuff.


9. It’s a cool new brand everyone is wearing

Image source: Gabriel Lima / pexels (not the actual photo)


IfChanceWouldHaveIt: I teach science. Sometimes I teach remedial science so I have to hype up my lessons. When students start showing an interest in things I get super excited and help support their interests as best I can. A girl came to my desk wearing a cute white marshmallow jacket with a NASA symbol on the back. I said “oh, super cool of you to be repping NASA!” Her response “Thanks, it’s a cool new brand everyone is wearing.” I asked a few more questions and turns out, she seriously didn’t know what NASA was! She was 18 years old.


Another story – two kids just talking to each other working on laptops. Silence for a few minutes, typing etc. Then randomly, one boy says, “if mandarin is a fruit, how do people speak it?” He was 16, and dead serious.

10. Kids at lab tables.

Image source: Tima Miroshnichenko / pexels (not the actual photo)


myheartisstillracing: Kids at lab tables.

Suddenly, there is a bright blue flash and a loud pop.

I turn and look directly at a kid, still holding a pair of scissors and a now severed laptop cord, his eyes wide.

“I didn’t realize it would do that.”

11. During the CPR training 

Image source: Raven Domingo / pexels (not the actual photo)


masterroadtripper: I teach swimming lessons and lifeguarding courses. During one, I was trying to teach them cpr and instead of showing them first, I told them to show me what they already knew about it.


I then proceeded to observe 15 16-20 year olds do the weirdest s**t to those poor training dolls. My favorite thought was the kid who did a two foot jump onto the chest of the dummy. The dummy slid out from under his feet like a cartoon banana and he landed on his rear end on the pool deck. Good times.

12. In the intro of a paper

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Steph83: In the intro of a paper, a kid (8th grade, teenager) wrote “In this SA, I’m going to explain…” and throughout the paper he wrote “SA” several more times. He meant essay. S-A. This kid’s first language is English. I had literally no words.


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13. It’s not hereditary, its genetic

Image source: Anna Shvets / pexels (not the actual photo)

The_Spot: Student 1: yeah, my aunt had cancer, and my mom, and my grandma.


Student 2: wow, that’s awful, do you think you’ll get it as a result? Is it hereditary?


Student 1: nah, it’s not hereditary, its genetic.


Freshman in College.


14. My students tried turning in plagiarized papers

Image source: Anete Lusina / pexels (not the actual photo)


Slaisa: My students tried turning in plagiarized papers. Unfortunately they’re so dumb that they neither bothered changing the file name or paraphrasing the content. I think almost 50% of the kids in class sent me the same paper over and over again. Spelling mistakes and all.


15. What’s an Example?

Image source: Max Fischer / pexels (not the actual photo)


anon: I asked my students to write a sentence and give an example. One of the students (age 12/13) asked “what’s an example?” Actually really hard to explain.


16. How can I type lowercase ‘a’?

Image source: Mikhail Nilov / pexels (not the actual photo)


PedroFPardo: How can I type lowercase ‘a’? All I have in my keyboard are capital letters.


17. If it mattered what letter he chose

Image source: RDNE Stock project / pexels (not the actual photo)

Happy_Birthday_2_Me: One of my 16 year old students asked, while starting a multiple choice test, if it mattered what letter he chose. I just stared at him. Sometimes there are no words.


18. Paper on Witches

Image source: Zen Chung / pexels (not the actual photo)


Cuntycunt10: University course – paper on Witches – spelt Which throughout the whole paper. Favorite sentence – Whiches and broomsticks. footnoted a phone number as a source! Marking those papers broke me.


19. My class had a math test over polygons

Image source: Pixabay / pexels (not the actual photo)

firedonmydayoff: My class had a math test over polygons.

So I was grading their tests and one of the throw away multiple choice answers was fiveagon. I laughed out loud, so my class naturally asked me what was so funny. I told them that no one could be that silly as to pick fiveagon as an answer. I immediately saw one kid slouch really low in his seat and about three papers latter I realized why. He had answered fiveagon for pentagon. I felt like the worst teacher in the world. After class, I went up to him and apologized. He said not to worry but I could tell it made him feel bad. I never forgave myself for that one. I now grade papers after school.


20. Name one of the states of matter

Image source: Tima Miroshnichenko / pexels (not the actual photo)


anon: Me: Name one of the states of matter.

Student: Massachusetts.


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