Orson Scott Card

First Meetings In the Enderverse


To Eugene England and Richard Cracroft, two shepherds of LDS literature, with respect and gratitude, from one of the sheep

THE POLISH BOY

John Paul hated school. His Mother did her best, but how could she possibly teach anything to him when she had eight other children—six of them to teach, two of them to tend because they were mere babies?

What John Paul hated most was the way she kept teaching him things he already knew. She would assign him to make his letters, practicing them over and over while she taught interesting things to the older kids. So John Paul did his best to make sense of the jumble of information he caught from her conversations with them. Smatterings of geography—he learned the names of dozens of nations and their capitals but wasn't quite sure what a nation was. Bits of mathematics—she taught polynomials over and over to Anna because she didn't even seem to try to understand, but it enabled John Paul to learn the operation. But he learned it like a machine, having no notion what it actually meant.

Nor could he ask. When he tried, Mother would get impatient and tell him that he would learn these things in due time, but he should concentrate on his own lessons now.

His own lessons? He wasn't getting any lessons, just boring tasks that almost made him crazy with impatience. Didn't she realize that he could already read and write as well as any of his older siblings? She made him recite from a primer, when he was perfectly capable of reading any book in the house. He tried to tell her, "I can read that one, Mother." But she only answered, "John Paul, that's playing. I want you to learn real reading."

Maybe if he didn't turn the pages of the grown-up books so quickly, she would realize that he was actually reading. But when he was interested in a book, he couldn't bear to slow down just to impress Mother. What did his reading have to do with her? It was his own. The only part of school that he enjoyed.



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