I was in sixth grade, I had a very wise teacher named
Mr. Warden. Mr. Warden knew everything. He explained
every subject to us in infinite detail and with extraordinary
patience. He made us learn the material by heart, and
we spent many hours reciting our lessons in unison.
We all knew the sixth grade curriculum perfectly, and
each one of us could answer the same questions with
the same answers in exactly the same way.
we repeated back to Mr. Warden the answers he had taught
us, and when we used exactly the right words to do so,
we always got A's. In fact, everyone in his class got
A's, because we repeated the sixth grade until we did.
there were rumors that some sixth graders left the grammar
school and went to a place called junior high school,
where they became seventh graders. Naturally, we were
curious about these rumors. But Mr. Warden shook his
long-suffering head at us, warning us in threatening
terms of the danger of listening to this kind of gossip.
He made it very clear that:
He had taught us all we would ever need to know to be
successful in life.
2. Those spreading the rumors about junior high school
only wanted to confuse us about the truth.
3. Anyone who actually went to this so-called junior
high school - if there was such a place -- would fall
into terrible temptations which would ruin their future.
4. Students who even thought about going to junior high
school were very troubled people who would be rejected
by proper society.
most people kept repeating the sixth grade until they
became adults and left school. Sixth grade, as you can
imagine, became very crowded, and the textbooks were
all broken and torn and scribbled in. The same lessons
were taught each year so that, as the students got older,
they paid less and less attention to what Mr. Warden
was saying. Most of them could hardly wait to get out
of school. When they did leave, they ran their businesses
and conducted their lives with all the wisdom they had
gained through their sixth-grade education.
in a while, one of my friends would whisper to me that
he had met so-and-so who was attending [whisper] junior
high school. He said that so-and-so showed him his new
textbook which contained all the subjects taught in
the new school. I had never heard of any of them. He
told my friend how exciting it was in the new school,
and that the classes there were very small because hardly
anyone had the courage to attend.
I didn't believe all that. No one I knew would be foolish
enough to take those risks. And anyway, I didn't want
to be looked upon as a weirdo and an outcast.
John W. Sloat 2005