How was it for you?

21st January 2005 at 00:00
The future or the past? What did school prepare you for? Take Jill Parkin's test


A Amo, amas, amat. What comes next?

B A Bushel is a weight. How much?

C Columbus sailed the ocean blue inI?

D Daisies are our silver, buttercups our gold. What were the sapphires and diamonds?

E Empire: the British one was what colour on the map?

F French seaming is useful for what?

G Gold is au 79 in what?

H Hengist and Horsa. Who?

I Intransitive verbs take no what?

J Jenner did what with cow's pustules?

K King Herod slaughtered whom?

L "Lucy is in her grave and oh the difference to me." To whom?

M Marston Moor in 1644. What happened?

N Nominative what follows?

O Oslo is the capital city of ?

P Parsing is what?

Q Q in the circle and P outside. When?

R Rhodesia: explain its name and give its location.

S "Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness"I and whose close-bosom friend?

T Thirteen times thirteen is?

U Unclassified means what?

V Viola has an identity problem in 'Twelfth Night'. What is it?

W Wordsworth (Look, I did a lot on the Romantics) wrote a poem about a medical supplier. What was it called?

X Xerxes reportedly led whom where?

Y Yards: how many in a mile?

Z Zuyder Zee is a famous example of what?

Bonus question For an extra five points: how many questions would this quiz have if it were based on the Greek alphabet ?


A Amamus, amatis, amant. Amazing how these chants stick, isn't it? But all those hours of rote are now officially redundant. AQA has dropped Latin, no matter how much we, you and they love it.

B Four imperial pecks. Extra point if you remember there were eight furlongs in a mile.

C The answer is not "in a ship" but "in 1492". This proves you were either paying attention in class or skipping in the playground. Both of these are now out of date. The main thing is to know how to look such stuff up on Google.

D The speedwell blue, morning dew and raindrops. These days our songs (hymns? Tsk, tsk!) are more poetic, as in "Autumn days when the grass is jewelledjet planes meeting in the air to be refuelled".

E Red, but shush!

F Hiding the edges of a seam. An extra point for blanket stitch, and two extra points if you can darn, although it's unlikely your arthritis will let you. Luckily we realise today that being able to make your own clock or wooden chicken with moving wings in DT is far more useful than being able to turn a hem up in domestic science.

G The periodic table. Lose a point if you think this is what you teach to girls in PHSE.

* Legendary Jutes brought in by Brits to sort out Picts. Yes, they do sound like members of Gandalf's Middle Earth mob.

I No direct object, as in verbs such as I live, I die, I arrive. Now that we have made so much progress in this European age that schools can drop foreign languages at 14, we're unlikely to need this sort of terminology.

J Made a smallpox vaccination.

K The innocents, the firstborn. Lose a point if you've cut all this stuff out in favour of really good diwali recipes and lots of drawings of elephant goddesses.

L Wordsworth. Goodness, how this romantic verse clutters up the brain cells. Hardly room for all that memorable poetry by Roger McGough and Benjamin Zephaniah.

M The Civil War: Cromwell to the fore; Prince Rupert stuffed; the rebellious North triumphant. Extra point if you knew Charles I was beheaded in 1649. You probably had one of those rulers with Important Dates in British History on the back

N Varies on the language but could be as many as vocative, accusative, genitive, dative, ablative. But see I. You think we should include the locative? Dear me, how do you get round the school on your Zimmer?

O Norway. And the only other thing about Norway is fjords, glacial and U-shaped at the inland end, square-bottomed at the sea end. Extra point if such irrelevant physical geography left no room for learning about pressure groups and planning applications.

P Grammatical analysis of a sentence. Back in fashion, but with cutesy little characters, usually along the lines of Claudia Clause, Vera Verb and naughty little Norman Noun: the postgrad version of Letterland.

Q When labelling your circle in geometry. If you thought this was something you could usefully add to the citizenship curriculum when covering etiquette on clubbing nights, lose a point.

R Zimbabwe and Zambia, named after Cecil Rhodes.

S The maturing sun, according to Keats in his Ode to Autumn, but remember your cultural relativism: all children are poets and all autumn poems are as valid as Keats's .

T 169. Extra point if you answered immediately because you recited tables as a child. If you're using today's method of counting up in 13s, we'll wait for you.

U A rare exam mark, now practically impossible to get. Unless the exam board has hired monoglot Japanese chimps to do the marking again.

V She's a girl pretending to be a boy, being played by a boy. Shakespeare was an early campaigner against Section 28. Odd that's not mentioned in the Penguin edition, but in Year 11 we're just doing the film.

W The Leech Gatherer. Not to be confused with The Pusher, The Pedlar, or My Friend at the School Gate by Damien, the poet of Year 10.

X A Persian army of 2 million men (believe it if you like) into Greece in 480 BC. Extra point if you know he was the son of Darius the Great.

Y 1,760. Wow, that was quick. Bet you know there were 240 pennies to a pound and could add up in Pounds S D columns. Oldie!

Z Land reclamation using dykes. The only other thing about Holland is that 25 per cent of it is below sea level.

But see O.

Bonus question

24. That's an extra five points. Another five if you think it's hilarious that the Christmas carol now has the line 'A and O and O and A' instead of 'Omega and Alpha be'. Lose ten if you can't see why it's funny. * HOW DID YOU SCORE?

26 and above Well, we oldies have had our fun with this, haven't we? The truth is that our education was poor preparation for a career as a teacher.

All that stuff you can't use! Still, bet you're good at quizzes on a winter's evening. Nothing like being warm and smug, I find.

20-25 You've made an attempt to clear your brain of the above junk, but without much success. Either try harder or find yourself a cosy spot in the staffroom to become the school cynic.

10-20 You must be pretty young, below 35 almost certainly. But you've either been keeping occasional company with oldies or you've been reading.

Still, you've obviously managed to keep up with today's curriculum and culture, which is the main thing. Keep up the CPD (yes, you do know what that stands for).

10 minus 13 Congratulations! Your education has served you well: no surplus fat in your knowledge banks. A head's certificate for you. Not, you understand, for actual achievement but for always doing your best. Now some brain food for you: go and keep up with Year 9 by watching Home and Away.

*Oh, for goodness sake! First and last letters of the Greek alphabet, saying in other words that God is the beginning and end of all things. Just doesn't work with A and O.

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