The Stickability Test

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away - England, to be precise - a young boarding school girl sat in her English class one wintery morning in February, she among nine other students, and observed the following:

Headmaster B., who was also the English Master, walked in, no coat to hang up anywhere, asked us to "Open books to page such-and-such," and introduced the material in two short sentences. "What do you think the book is about?" With that, Headmaster B. gathered up his book, got up, and left.

Just like that. It was 10:05 a.m. We had another 40 minutes to go.

"That is weird," I thought. Not exactly normal American teaching behavior. Of course, it was not normal British teaching, either.

It turns out Headmaster B. had gone to his office directly across the green, in front of our classroom window, to observe our reaction. "The Stickability Test," he said. "Who stays, and for how long?" Two or three students left the room by 10:10 a.m. The rest of us stayed 20 minutes longer and we actually discussed the book.

I think about The Stickability Test as yesterday I sat with a stubborn head-cold which refused to leave me, and today has given the added value of a sore phlegmy throat. I want to teach despite the discomfort.

When I decided to stop, Alexander, quite nobly, picked up his Science books to read and work on. He worked for more than 20 minutes, too. Good for him.

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