What A Greasy World

, , , , , , | Learning | September 1, 2018

(As a first-year high school student, I’m required to take a semester of geography. It’s the first day of school and as a fun exercise, my teacher gives us five minutes to list as many countries as we can that do not contain the letter A within its name. As a prize, the teacher will award five points extra credit to the student or group that list the most countries. I come up with what I believe to be a good list, but spend the entire time trying to rack my brain for more. Once that is done, the teacher asks us to get into groups and compare our answers before submitting them to her.)

Classmate #1: “This was really hard. The only country I could think of that didn’t have an A was Europe.”

Me: “Europe is a continent, not a country, so your answer doesn’t count.”

Classmate #2: “That’s okay. I wrote down Mexico as well as Mississippi, Illinois, New York, and Ohio.”

Me: “Mexico is good, but the rest are just the names of States. As far as I know, there isn’t a state today that is legally considered its own country.”

Classmate #3: “I have London, Sydney, and Tokyo.”

Me: *mentally banging my head on the desk* “Those are famous cities, not countries.”

Classmate #1: “Well, if you’re so smart, let’s see what you have.”

Me: “I have Mexico, Chile, Peru, Greece, Luxembourg, Belgium, The Czech Republic, Turkey, Morocco, and the Philippines. I was trying to name a dozen, but I couldn’t think of more before time was up.”

Classmate #3: “I haven’t heard of most of those countries. You sure you’re not making some of those up?”

Me: “If you don’t believe me, look them up yourself.”

Classmate #2: “Wait a minute.” *points to where I’ve written “Greece”* “You spelled that wrong. It should be spelled G-R-E-A-S-E.”

Me: “You’re thinking of the grease like greasy food you’d get at a fast food joint, or quite possibly the musical. The country of Greece is spelled the way I have it written down. What I want to know is have you guys ever look at a globe or a world map before?”

(I don’t know which was worse that class period: the fact that I didn’t get the extra credit because someone listed more countries that I did, or the fact that the answers from the think tank I was grouped with were considered the typical answers by the teacher.)

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