Back in May, John Oliver, on his HBO show “Last Week Tonight,” skewered the country’s obsession with standardized testing. For example:

“Something is wrong with our system when we just assume a certain number of kids will vomit. Tests are supposed to be assessments of skills, not a rap battle on 8 Mile Road.”

Now he is back, with a “back-to-school” video on YouTube in which he tells students what they can expect to learn in school. Here are some highlights (and you can watch the full video above):

American history:

“The only thing you need to learn about this is something that they are almost definitely not going to teach you and that is Warren G. Harding’s love life, which believe me, was spectacular.”

World history:

“You are going to hear a lot in school about European explorers and colonists. Now as adults you will realize that these men were basically genocidal lunatics, but for now enjoy thinking of them as thrilling adventurers and discovers. You will also learn that Africa and Asia are places, but that’s about it. You will leave school knowing as much about those two continents as I know about actor Penn Badgley. You’ll know it is something that exists in the world but you won’t be able to give any facts about it other than the general shape.”


“You are going to be repeatedly told you need this when you grow up. That is bulls***. You will need addition, subtraction multiplication and division which, where I’m from, were called the original Fab Four. But that’s it. I am an adult with a job and I cannot remember if a logarithm is some kind of exponent, Kenny Loggins’s first album or a method of lumberjack birth control. I don’t know. So ignore it, just ignore it.”


“You may have to dissect a frog this year. In which case you do, the most lasting lesson is what frog in embalming fluid smells like. You will never forget it. Seriously you will forget your first kiss before that stench leaves your nostrils.”


“This is going to be disappointing. Unless you have a really good teacher, you probably won’t even learn how to cook meth, and that’s really all anyone is in it for.”


It’s basically just essay writing. You can’t be wrong. The biggest mistake you can make is forgetting who dies at the end of a book.”

Oliver then offers his handy book offering students tips on who died at the end of various books. For example:

“At the end of Romeo and Juliet, both Romeo and Juliet die, but you actually don’t feel that bad about it…. “Death of a Salesman. Spoiler alert, the salesman dies…..”

Watch the video. It’s a riot.