Charles L. Coon (1868-1927), the former superintendent of Wilson County Schools was known as a strict disciplinarian and incorrigible pedant. He also thought teachers needed a good slap now and again. (To be fair he also worked really hard for quality education for African Americans before he completely lost their trust by slapping one of their teachers for contradicting him). But who knew he was so funny. Here is some of his greatest hits in pedantry and usage of the exclamation point in his tear-down of the test questions written by Wilson County teachers in the early 1920’s. He also seems to be an early proponent of the Common Core.
Some of my favorites are
- “Deamons!”(The dictionary says it is demons!)
- “Give four habits of good health you have learned to do this year.” (The verb to do is surplusage.) Superintendent Coon made up a new word called surplusage! Ok it is a real word, but it hasn’t been used since Chaucer’s daddy.
- “What is a food?” Either not a very hard question or existential.