Are You Smarter Than a 10th Grader?

When I was around 14 I started using 3×5 cards as bookmarks and writing down all the words that I encountered that I did not know. The idea was to look up all of the words once I was done reading since it wasn’t as if I was going to keep interrupting a good book to pick up the dictionary!

Of course when it came to words like “Cossack” in War and Peace I needed to look them up immediately since I wanted to be a smart reader, but for the most part I accumulated list of words that I mostly knew by the time I got around to actually checking their definitions.

I recently found the card that I used for Shakespeare’s Hamlet. These are words that I did not know as a 15-year-old, and like any good formerly homeschooled person I am just a bit ashamed of myself for ever being so ignorant.

Are you more educated than a 15-year-old who has never been to school?

  • Pernicious
  • Obsequious
  • Jocund
  • Assay
  • Peruse
  • Gratis
  • Appartenance
  • Calumny

And for good measure I wrote a favorite quote on the back of the card: “More matter with less art.”

Pernicious remains one of my favorite words, though I may or may not have learned how to pronounce it correctly before I went to college. To this day one of my favorite ways to identify the formerly-homeschooled is by noting those who use unnecessarily unusual words–and pronounce them incorrectly. The best part is when we don’t even realize that we’re being stupidly pretentious.

Homeschoolers: we’re so cute.

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8 thoughts on “Are You Smarter Than a 10th Grader?

  1. Tienne McKenzie

    It’s not just homeschoolers who do that. I had a high reading proficiency (I read the Clan of the Cave Bear and Gone With the Wind as a 10 year old) and so was constantly encountering words I’d never heard before. Most of the time I just got the meaning from context, which led to me using them improperly a lot and almost always mispronouncing them. I never took phonics in school, though, which might have been a contributing factor. For some reason they didn’t teach it in my international school in Indonesia when I was in 1st and 2nd grade, and by the time I came to the States we were past that stuff and onto other kinds of grammar.

    Even traditionally schooled students can still have gaps here and there!

  2. Mama Kalila

    Yeah I went to public school and still had that problem too lol. There’s a couple words I still have trouble saying right… and oddly enough at least one of them (the worst one for me) is used a lot in my family. Facetious… For some reason I twist it to sound like fast-ee-tious (and for the longest time thought that was right lol), Jas teases me about it something awful.

  3. Joy

    Currently 5 for 8 ~ no clue how I would have done at 15.

    Public schooler here but for my primary parent (my mom) English was not her first language and I picked up some of her mis-pronunciations.

  4. Young Mom

    Pronunciation has always been a challenge for me too. I was reading way ahead of my grade, and did the same sort of thing you did. I still have major trouble with spelling, and we never studied any grammer, so sometimes I still wonder whether to use “to” or “too” and what the heck a semi-colon is for.

  5. Sarah

    “To this day one of my favorite ways to identify the formerly-homeschooled is by noting those who use unnecessarily unusual words–and pronounce them incorrectly. The best part is when we don’t even realize that we’re being stupidly pretentious.”

    I wasn’t homeschooled, but this helps me understand why people assumed I was.

  6. Craig

    Such a geek – 2×5 cards – I can see it now :) But look how you write – it worked. By the way I knew all of those fancy words :) My fave word was ubiquitous – learned it in Latin class.

    God Bless and keep you and all of yours Rae

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