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College in a Nutskull by Professor Anders Henriksson

Professor Anders Henriksson has compiled a list of mistakes made by students in higher education in College in a Nutskull.  The spiral bound notebook with lined pages with doodles in the margin is filled with mistakes, misinformation, wrong facts, and spelling errors.  These answers are taken from essay tests all over the world, which were sent to Henriksson.

“Cast aside all worry and savor this text as an opportunity to visit a world remarkably different from the reality we think we inhabit.” (page viii)

The blunders, malapropisms, spoonerisms, and poor facts are arranged by subject, ranging from religious studies to all kinds of history and science and technology.  Many of these examples could be attributed to test-taking jitters as students rush to finish their timed essays, but it makes them no less amusing.  However, some of these lines read more like a “smart ass” spouting off “witty” comments, such as “Descartes began this by stating, ‘I think, therefore I’m Sam.'” (page 11) and “Some of these ideas are unfortunately too long for my attention spam.” (page 69)

Here are a couple malapropisms and spoonerisms:

“A vassal was a kind of servant, only rounder.” (page 63)

“Slavery was the big issue in the Anti-Bedlam South.” (page 76)

Beyond the unintentional word usage, there are just some major factual errors, from “The executive branch exists because Congress allows it to exist” to “Laws are invented by the courts.” (page 90-1)  What is likely to trouble readers, including me, is that the mistakes made are a sad commentary on the state of public education and its ability to prepare students for college.  Terrible grammar, improper word usage, Freudian slips, and other factual mistakes merely demonstrate how ill-prepared students are for college or a career, especially since they cannot communicate clearly.

Overall, College in a Nutskull by Professor Anders Henriksson is a humorous compilation of mistakes by college students that may make an unintentional commentary on public education and student preparedness.  For those who find student errors amusing or for those that enjoy malapropisms, this collection will have you chuckling, shaking your head, and spitting out your coffee.

Check out this article on Henriksson.

FTC Disclosure:  Thanks to Workman Publishing for sending me a free review copy of College in a Nutskull for review.

About the Author:

Photo credit: Kevin G. Gilbert

Dr. Henriksson is a professor at Shepherd University is located in historic Shepherdstown, West Virginia, and the author of Vassals and Citizens: The Baltic Germans in Constitutional Russia, 1905-1914, and The Tsar’s Loyal Germans. The Riga German Community: Social Change and the Nationality Question, 1855-1905. He is co-author of The City in Late Imperial Russia and has published articles in Russian Review, Canadian Slavonic Papers, the Wilson Quarterly, the Journal of Baltic Studies, and the Modern Encyclopedia of Russian, Soviet, and Eurasian History. His research interests focus on the role of class, ethnicity, and gender in the development of civil society in Russia and Eastern Europe. He is currently at work translating and editing the memoir of a Russian nurse in the Russo-Japanese War. Also a chronicler of the humorous side of campus life, Dr. Henriksson is compiler of Non Campus Mentis: World History According to College Students. A second humor book, College in a Nutskull, is due to appear in 2010.

This is my 32nd book for the 2010 New Authors Challenge.