Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A "Spelling" Test

Once, in elementary school, I flunked a spelling test. Here is how it happened.
Several days before the test, the teacher handed out the word list. I looked at the list and said to myself, "These words are easy. I know how to spell these words," and promptly forgot about it.

On the day of the test, the teacher told us to close our books. Then she said something like "Take out a sheet of paper. Now write down the spelling words."

Then we answered the teacher, "O teacher, live forever! Tell your students the words, and we will spell them."

The teacher replied to the students, "This is what I have firmly decided: If you do not tell me what the words were and spell them, I will have you cut into pieces and your houses turned into piles of rubble. But if you tell me the words and spell them, you will receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. So tell me the words and spell them for me."

Once more they replied, "Let the teacher tell her students the words, and we will spell them."

Then the teacher answered, "I am certain that you are trying to gain time, because you realize that this is what I have firmly decided: If you do not tell me the words, there is just one penalty for you. You have conspired to tell me misleading and wicked things, hoping the situation will change. So then, tell me the words, and I will know that you can spell them for me."

The students answered the teacher, "There is not a boy or girl on earth who can do what the teacher asks! No teacher, however great and mighty, has ever asked such a thing of any student. What the teacher asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the teacher except the gods, and they do not come to this school."

This made the teacher so angry and furious that she flunked them all.
Somewhere in there was a transition from the true story into fantasy. It was silly, but when I started to describe this version to my daughters this morning, they encouraged me to write it up. Or down.

If the text looks somewhat familiar (modulo a couple of substitutions) it's because it comes from Daniel chapter 2.

No comments: