I recently gave a test in an English lit survey course. We'd been working on medieval English lit for five weeks. One question: in what kind of English did Chaucer write?

After 5 weeks of reading Anglo-Saxon and Middle English, you wouldn't believe how many kids said "Old English"--a phrase that after the first day of class we never used because, as I said, it's misleading.

Another question: when did the Roman Empire withdraw from England?

I had many of the kids say 11th century. That is so wrong that it would be laughable if it weren't so painful.

And when did William the Conqueror invade England? Somewhere around the 16th century according to some kids.

And these are kids who are supposedly majoring in English.

So the problem is not just in science. Nor is it stupidity. Ignorance, willful ignorance--sure.
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MACTECH ubi dolor ibi digitus