Final Exam Question For The World History Class I Don’t Teach

You are unexpectedly transported to England in the year 1000 AD with what you are wearing, what you know, and nothing else. What challenges do you face? Specifically, how do you survive?

Such a fine summative question there, visceral, compelling, offering a gradient of responses all the way from “I wouldn’t.” to some of the comments at Marginal Revolution, demonstrating extraordinary command of local geography, sociology, and economy.

You’ve got people arguing for trebuchets, crop rotation, and bookkeeping while others argue that trebuchets, crop rotation, and the printing press are all ideas that’ll get you incinerated for sorcery.

And after dozens of serious vectors on the question, this gem:

Only what you are wearing and what you know? Well, I’m wearing a fully-comped Springfield DA in a shoulder rig, counterbalanced with three extra mags. I’ve got a Spyderco Police Model in the back pocket of my jeans, a pretty extensive magpie board in my wallet, and I know how to make grain explode. So, me, I’m headed straight for my new castle, comprende?

Comprende.

About 
I'm Dan and this is my blog. I'm a former high school math teacher and current head of teaching at Desmos. More here.

7 Comments

  1. Great question! I’ve got a few term paper/group project ideas along these lines. I’m inclined to use more traditional (but well designed) questions for exams, though.

  2. My favorite exam question was a final in a course on global climate change. The course covered 4.5 billion years (not at all about anthropogenic global warming). The question?

    Is the earth alive?

    Four freakin words! I had to write 3 hours on this topic using thermodynamics for God’s sake.

    Stay tuned. I’ll give up my answer for cookies.

  3. You are unexpectedly transported to PHILADELPHIA in the year 2008 AD with what you are wearing, what you know, A NEW WIFE, and nothing else. What challenges do you face? Specifically, how do you survive?

    Send answer to either:

    1. SLA
    2. Springfield High School, Montgomery County, PA