Friday, May 24, 2024

The Wrong Johnson

Eighth grade US history. Fifth period. 

It's the end of the year, so the eighth graders are on the Civil War and Reconstruction. (Eleventh grade US history starts studying after Reconstruction.) 

As Mr. C was going to be out for a week, he had left them a lot of bookwork to do. They had questions that went along with their textbooks. And many of them were using their textbooks to find the answers.

But nowadays, many students use Google rather than their textbooks. (We've explained to them that Google is way harder as the questions are constructed to go with the text. And Google can go way off topic.) Although, that was before.

Axel had his questions out. And his phone. And he decided that he was going to use ChatGPT instead of his textbook. 

Of course, I told him this was a bad idea.

He input the question. It had something to do with President Johnson and his conflicts with the Congress. 

He read out the answer: "Congress and Lyndon B. Johnson..."

At which point I stopped him. "Wrong Johnson."

As most US history teachers do, Mr. C had the presidents' portraits running along the top of the walls of his classroom. George Washington was at the front on the right wall. Joe Biden was at the front on the left wall. 

I found Lincoln on the wall. I pointed to him. I reminded Axel that they had just studied Lincoln's assassination, and the president following him was right next to him. Then I pointed to LBJ, who was on the opposite wall. 

"Different centuries."

Did that send Axel back to his book? Nah. He refined his question to ChatGPT. 


I made sure that Mr. C knew about how Axel found his answers. If nothing else, at least Axel learned that we had two different President Johnsons. I hope he remembers that.


  1. Oh man, how frustrating. Hopefully he learned to ? those fast answers.

    1. Not yet. I think it'll take a bad grade for him to realize that those aren't necessarily the right answers.

  2. We might as well welcome our AI overlords now.

    1. He'll learn. Eventually. (Next week I have a follow up to this post.)

  3. I meant to ask: if the eighth graders study the Civil War and Reconstruction, and 11th graders start with Reconstruction, what do the ninth and 10th graders study? There must be a reason why there is a two year gap in the study of U.S. history.

    1. Ah right, I don't think I've ever outlined the sequence. It is:
      7th grade: world history (antiquity to the Renaissance)
      8th grade: US history (colonial times to reconstruction)
      9th grade: world geography
      10th grade: world history (the Enlightenment to modern times)
      11th grade: US history (the progressive era to modern times)
      12th grade: US government

  4. I'm surprise they are allowed to use online sources instead of reading the textbook for answers. I remember when Wikipedia couldn't be used as a resource, now it seems it's allowed.

    1. It's not "allowed" per se, but the students have access to computers and phones. They definitely teach the students that Wikipedia can't be used as a source for research papers.

  5. Replies
    1. They do. They don't realize it's way less work to look it up in the textbook.

  6. The title made me giggle because I'm essentially a seventeen-year-old boy in a middle aged woman's body. lol Be well, my dear.

  7. I blame their undeveloped brains but it is so frustrating.. they always want to do everything their way.

  8. They choose what seems easiest... even if it's not ;)

  9. Even though my favorite period of history is Ancient History, I do enjoy studying the Civil War. The carnage was unbelievable.


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