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Sh*t My Students Write

My in-laws are both teachers -- one of English, the other of English as a second language -- so I hear stories like this all the time. While funny, the mistakes students make also make you wonder if, you know, kids are dumber these days or just more distracted by things that aren't school -- but then again, I'm certain I made lots of dumb mistakes in reports and papers when I was younger too, like these and worse. (I burned all the evidence.) But as with everything, it seems, now There's A Tumblr For That. Shi*t My Student Write, which claims to be "evidence of the true cost of educational funding cuts," was started by a teacher but takes submissions from anyone who cares to submit -- other teachers, ostensibly -- but who knows how many of them are real. They seem real to *me* -- maybe that means I'm a pessimist? Anyway, here are a few of my favorites:

From a paper, I assume, on the Irish famine:
The potato literally encouraged the Irish to overbreed.

Some advice regarding crazysex:
Macbeth couldn’t have loved Lady Macbeth because he was crazy and too busy hallucinating witches and stuff. Also, crazy people can’t do it without going crazy midway through.

What's this writer saying about the founding fathers?
Before the days of colonization, America was like a young, untouched child.

Really! Tell us more:
Sex is a factor in teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

I assume this is a direct quote:
Its not really plagiarism as it was exactly what I was going to write anyway.

Nothing is funnier than WWII:
My story is hysterical fiction because it took place during World War II and could have actually happened.

And much, much more!

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How Urban Legends Like 'The Licked Hand' Are Born
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If you compare the scary stories you heard as a kid with those of your friends—even those who grew up across the country from you—you’ll probably hear some familiar tales. Maybe you tried to summon Bloody Mary by chanting her name in front of the mirror three times in a dark bathroom. Maybe you learned never to wonder what’s under a woman’s neck ribbon. Maybe you heard the one about the girl who feels her dog lick her hand in the middle of the night, only to wake up to find him hanging dead from the shower nozzle, the words “humans can lick too” written on the wall in the dog’s blood.

These ubiquitous, spooky folk tales exist everywhere, and a lot of them take surprisingly similar forms. How does a single story like the one often called “Humans Can Lick Too” or "The Licked Hand" make its way into every slumber party in America? Thrillist recently investigated the question with a few experts, finding that most of these stories have very deep roots.

In the case of The Licked Hand, its origins go back more than a century. In the 1990s, Snopes found that a similar motif dates back to an Englishman’s diary entry from 1871. In it, the diary keeper, Dearman Birchall, retold a story he heard at a party of a man whose wife woke him up in the middle of the night, urging him to go investigate what sounded like burglars in their home. He told his wife that it was only the dog, reaching out his hand. He felt the dog lick his hand … but in the morning, all his valuables were gone: He had clearly been robbed.

A similar theme shows up in the short story “The Diary of Mr. Poynter,” published in 1919 by M.R. James. In it, a character dozes off in an armchair, and thinks that he is petting his dog. It turns out, it’s some kind of hairy human figure that he flees from. The story seems to have evolved from there into its presently popular form, picking up steam in the 1960s. As with any folk tale, its exact form changes depending on the teller: sometimes the main character is an old lady, other times it’s a young girl.

You’ll probably hear these stories in the context of happening to a “friend of a friend,” making you more likely to believe the tale. It practically happened to someone you know! Kind of! The setting, too, is probably somewhere nearby. It might be in your neighborhood, or down by the local railroad tracks.

Thrillist spoke to Dr. Joseph Stubbersfield, a researcher in the UK who studies urban legends, who says the kind of stories that spread widely contain both social information and emotional resonance. Meaning they contain a message—you never know who’s lurking in your house—and are evocative.

If something is super scary or gross, you want to share it. Stories tend to warn against something: A study of English-language urban legends circulating online found that most warned listeners about the hazards of life (poisonous plants, dangerous animals, dangerous humans) rather than any kind of opportunities. We like to warn each other of the dangers that could be lurking around every corner, which makes sense considering our proven propensity to focus on and learn from negative information. And yes, that means telling each other to watch out for who’s licking our hands in the middle of the night.

Just something to keep in mind as you eagerly await Jezebel’s annual scary story contest.

[h/t Thrillist]

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