The "Lazy" Student *
[totally revised, edited, and translated]
by Hénock Gugsa
Modern education finally arrived in rural Ethiopia. Students began to be taught not only reading
and writing but also basic arithmetic.
Some students were very bright and were advancing pretty well in their
studies, but others were finding the going pretty near impossible. But, the situation was especially more challenging
to the teachers who had to improvise and find new ways of teaching.
One such teacher began a method called "Applied
Arithmetic" .... Basically, he was now using examples from daily rural
life to make problems comprehensible and solvable to students. Among his charge was one particular student
who was finding the concept of "subtraction" completely
“Look,” said the teacher, “Say you have five sheep in a pasture.
If one sheep goes away from the herd,
scampers off by itself and
escapes, how many sheep would you now have left? ”
“ None,” replied the student firmly.
“Incredible! ” said the teacher with a heavy sigh. “How did you arrive at that answer? ”
“This one actually made sense to me, teacher, ” said the
wide-eyed student. “If one sheep goes,
all the rest will follow! ”
The teacher gave up. He couldn't begin to argue with a student who was also a shepherd boy.
* inspired by an Amhara folk tale from Ethiopia that was narrated by Kassa Alamrew