Betsy DeVos
Betsy DeVos arrives at the Senate Health, Education and Labor Committee confirmation hearing to be next Secretary of Education on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC Yuri Gripas/Reuters

Trump's nominee to head education in the United States, Betsy DeVos, faced tough questioning during her confirmation hearing and gave some slightly awkward answers.

DeVos, who is in line to become secretary of education, answered questions Wednesday (17 January) on everything from guns in schools to fend off grizzly bear attacks to saying that Trump's behaviour toward women would be labelled sexual assault if it happened in a school.

We've rounded up five of the strangest moments.

1. Grizzlies and guns

When asked whether guns have any place in American schools, DeVos said that she thinks it is an issue "best left for locales and states to decide." DeVos said she could imagine schools threatened by grizzly bears, like one in Wyoming, that is surrounded by a bear-proof fence, would probably need "a gun in the school to protect from potential grizzlies."

2. Is it sexual assault?

Senator Patty Murray asked DeVos directly if actions Trump describes in a 2005 Access Hollywood recording in which he "was recorded bragging about kissing and groping women and girls without their consent" would be considered sexual assault if it happened in a school. "Yes," DeVos said.

3. Student growth versus proficiency

Senator Al Franken asked DeVos about whether she thought proficiency or growth were more important for the development of students. She seemed to misunderstand the question. Franken noted the debate between how much students improve (growth), versus whether they meet a set standard (proficiency) have been a long running debate in the Senate Committee on Education.

4. Should private and public schools meet the same standards?

When asked by Democrat Tim Kaine whether all schools that receive public funds should be held to the same accountability standards — be they public or private charter schools — DeVos didn't answer him directly. "Do you not want to answer my question?" Kaine said.

5. Managing more than $1tr in student loans

When asked if she had any experience running an organisation like the $1 tn student loan bank administered by the Department of Education, DeVos said "I do not." She also said that she, nor her children, have ever taken out a student loan or know what it is like having student debt.