I guess it was in the 10th grade that I really learned to listen. To really, really listen.
It was an experience that taught me how to listen and helped me learn how to use words as well as how to phrase them.
Oddly enough, the class was U. S. History and the teacher was Mr. William Moses.
Mr. Moses was tall, slightly on the slim side of average; he had black hair with touches of gray and almost always wore a black suit, white dress shirt and tie. His nose held black-rimmed glasses. His smile, which seemed to be a rare thing, was slight, and he had a dry sense of humor.
Isabelle Moses, his sister, was an elementary school teacher, and his wife worked in the school office.
On irregular occasions, Mr. Moses announced pop quizzes. (Do they even have those in classrooms any more?) He would say that each student should get out one piece of paper and a pencil and that we should put all books under our desks. These were words to strike fear and trepidation into our very beings.
It wasn’t unusual for one of his quizzes to include an extremely easy question – a “gimme.” Mr. Moses included a “gimme” on this particular day, and it was the very first question.
With a monotone voice, Mr. Moses said, “Name the country that gained its independence from Great Britain as a result of the Revolutionary War in the late 1700s.”
Whew! That was truly a “gimme.” We didn’t have to respond with complete sentences, so I hurriedly wrote “U.S.”
Imagine my shock when the test was returned with a big red “X” by that first answer.
Mr. Moses explained that he had asked for the name of the country, not the abbreviation of the name of the country.
Yep, that’s when I learned to listen to exact words and to pay close attention.
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