Italicized links open a new window to an external site

Click here to display our home page

Lesson Ideas
Main Events

Ain't This Write?

This humorous activity is a way to show your students what can happen when people do not write correct, standard English.  It is built around a few pieces of "urban folklore" collected by Alan Dundes and Carl R. Pagter, and published in their book Work Hard and You Shall Be Rewarded (1975, republished 1992).

  1. What you'll need before you start
  1. Conducting the activity
  2. For more ideas that can be developed to extend this activity, have a look at these

Caveat: Certain pieces of the urban folklore collected in the Dundes and Pagter books will be considered offensive (scatological or sexual) by some people.   The selections I've made for this activity are not.  They are just funny, as are most in the books.  However, because of the potential for controversy, you should review the books carefully before recommending them to students (especially younger ones).

On Saturday, January 29, 2000, Scott Simon, host of NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday, interviewed Anders Henriksson, professor of history at Shepherd College. (The interview can be heard at  Professor Henriksson published an article in The Wilson Quarterly (Winter 2000 issue), Hindsight into The Future: A History of the Past, Part II (pages 26-30).  In it he compiles a history of civilization from some of the most memorable student bloopers that have come his way.  This article must be read to be believed.  However, be warned, it is one of the most hilarious things I have ever read.

Henriksson's 1983 Wilson Quarterly article, Life Reeked with Joy, is also available online.  Another version, shown with one compiled by Richard Lederer is available at

To hear the interview with Henriksson, you'll need the Real Player plug-in for your Internet browser.  After it is installed, you can click on the Hindsight into the future listen link.

On December 24, 2001, the Washington Post published a review of Henriksson's book Non Campus Mentis.  You can read excerpts from the book here.

return to the Main Events page

return to the Lesson Ideas page

copyright 1998-2009 All Rights Reserved.
original web posting: Thursday, September 10, 1998
last modified: Sunday, November 01, 2009