Education and School Idioms
(an)A for effort
- the recognition that someone has tried hard to do something even though he or she may not be successfulThe students received an A for effort for their work on the class project.
- better or higher than averageThe boy's marks were above average in all subjects except history.
as easy as ABC
- very easyLearning how to use a computer is as easy as ABC for the children.
back to basics
- an approach in education that uses traditional ideas or methods that have been successful in the pastThe teacher believes that back to basics is important in her classroom and the parents are happy with the results.
- worse or lower than averageMost members of the class were below average in the math test.
- someone who reads a lotMy sister is a bookworm and is always reading a book.
- to try to develop an idea or think of new ideasThe students got into groups to brainstorm ideas for the school play.
call the roll
- to call the names of students on a roll and expect them to answer if they are thereEvery morning when the class starts the teacher calls the roll.
cap and gown
- the special cap called a mortarboard and the robe that is worn during academic ceremonies such as graduationAll of the students wore a cap and gown to the graduation ceremony.
catch up to (someone or something)
- to move fast or work hard to reach someone or something that is ahead of youAfter my illness, I had to study very hard to catch up to the rest of the class.
- someone who copies the work of anotherThe children called the girl a copycat when they saw her copying the test of another student.
- to count the number of peopleThe teacher stopped to count noses several times during the field trip.
cover a lot of ground
- to complete a lot of material in a class or courseWe covered a lot of ground during the first month of the science class.
- a school where farming or agriculture is studiedMy cousin will go to a cow college when he finishes high school.
crack a book
- to open a book to study (usually used in the negative)I did very well in the course even though I did not crack a book until the last week of classes.
crank out a paper
- to write a paper or essay in a mechanical wayI had to crank out a paper almost every week to pass the course.
- to not go to classI decided to cut class in order to study for my geography test.
draw a blank
- to get no response from someone when you ask him or her a questionThe teacher drew a blank when she asked about the boy's plans for the weekend.
drop out of school
- to stop attending schoolMy friend dropped out of school and began to drive a truck.
- someone who works very hard and is very enthusiasticThe young girl is an eager beaver and always comes to class before the other students.
fill in the blanks
- to supply the missing words or information on a test or other exerciseWe had to fill in the blanks for the questions on the test.
- to fail a course, to fail and then leave schoolThe boy was very smart but he flunked out of his language class.
from the old school
- ideas that were popular in the past but which are no longer popular or commonMy grandmother is from the old school and always made her children make their own lunches and walk to school.
get credit for (a course)
- to receive official recognition and credits after passing a courseI was able to get credit for the course which I took in the summer.
get through (a course or a set of materials)
- to finish a course or a set of materialsThe boy was a very good student and got through every course that he took.
- to waste timeMy sister spent most of the week goofing off and was not prepared for her test.
have one's nose in a book
- to be reading a bookThe boy loves to read and always has his nose in a book.
- education after graduating from high school (usually college or university)The government has recently invested a lot of money in higher education.
hit the books
- to begin to study hardAfter relaxing all weekend I hit the books on Sunday evening.
- a list of people or students with exceptional achievementsMy neighbor was on the honor roll during his last year in high school.
- written or signed with a penThe teacher asked the students to make sure that they wrote the essay in pen.
- written or signed with a pencilI wrote the test in pencil so that I could change my answers easily.
- a small group of older and famous eastern United States colleges and universities such as Harvard and Yale and PrincetonSeveral of the company executives went to an Ivy League school.
know one's ABCs
- to know the alphabet or the most basic things about somethingThe students worked hard and everyone knew their ABCs very well.
learn (something) by heart
- to memorize something so that you can repeat it without thinkingThe children learned all of the songs by heart for the school play.
learn (something) by rote
- to learn or memorize something without thinking about itWe learned many verbs by rote in the foreign language class.
live in an ivory tower
- to not be aware of the realities of everyday lifeThe university professor lived in an ivory tower and had no idea what was going on around him.
make the grade
- to be satisfactory and of an expected levelMy final assignment did not make the grade and I had to do it again.
meet the requirements for/of (something)
- to fulfill the requirements for/of somethingThe young woman was unable to meet the requirements to enter medical school.
- at a different location than the grounds of a college or universityMany of the students liked to go to a restaurant off campus.
old boy network
- the situation where people (usually men) who went to the same school help each other get good jobsIt was necessary to be part of an old boy network to get a job at the law firm.
- located on the grounds of a college or universityThere was a bank on campus which many of the students used.
pass with flying colors
- to pass something easily and with a high scoreI was able to pass the science test with flying colors.
- to not go to school when you shouldThe boys played hooky and went to the video game center for the afternoon.
publish or perish
- university professors often have to publish books or articles in journals or they will not be successful in their jobs at the universityThe university professor wrote many scientific papers. He was forced to publish or perish.
put one's thinking cap on
- to start thinking in a serious mannerThe boy put on his thinking cap and tried to think of a new name for the school newspaper.
read out loud
- to read something so that other people can hear youThe students each had a chance to read out loud from the book of poems.
read to oneself
- to read without saying anything so that other people cannot hear youI spent the morning in the library reading to myself.
read through something
- to read all of somethingI read through the test briefly before I started to answer the questions.
school of hard knocks
- the ordinary experience of learning from work and daily lifeThe girl left school early and began to learn about life in the school of hard knocks.
school of thought
- a particular way or philosophy of thinking about somethingThere are many schools of thought about how to learn a foreign language.
- in the lower grades of elementary school children bring something interesting to show to the rest of the classThe little girl brought in a turtle shell to show-and-tell at school.
show of hands
- a raising of hands in a classroom or other group to vote or see what people think about somethingAfter a show of hands the class voted to go on a field trip next week.
- a line with one person standing behind another personThe students lined up single file before they entered the auditorium.
- to record the names of persons who are attending school or something similarAfter our teacher took attendance we began to do our math lesson.
take the roll
- to call the names of students in an attendance book and expect them to answer if they are thereThe teacher took the roll and then we started the lesson.
teach one's grandmother to suck eggs
- to try to tell or teach something to someone who knows more than you do about itTeaching some of the students how to use a computer is like teaching my grandmother to suck eggs. Most of them know more than I do.
teach someone a lesson
- to do something to someone in order to punish him or her for their bad behaviorMy friend is always late so I taught her a lesson and left our meeting place before she had arrived.
- the teacher's favorite studentMy sister was always the teacher's pet at her school.
- the three basic skills for a basic education (reading, (w)riting, and (a)rithmetic)My father studied in a small country school where they studied the three R's.
- the relations (often bad) between a town and the university and university students who are located in that townThere were some town-and-gown conflicts when the graduation parties began in the small town.
university of life
- the daily life and work where you learn more than from going to universityMy grandfather began to work on the family farm when he was fourteen and learned everything from the university of life.
work one's way through college
- to work at a job to help pay for your college or university expensesMy brother worked his way through college at the local supermarket.