Story of a Good Teacher

lehrer_01.gifA long, long time ago, so long it isn’t really true anymore, there lived a king. And this king had a son who was extraordinarily, unspeakably, unconceivably – stupid! Do you want an example? His tutor – of course he had a tutor all for himself, and this tutor had to tutor the prince whenever he was awake, that means about six hours a day – anyway, his tutor had tought him with great effort and trouble that two plus two equals four.
“Oh, your Royal Highness has made wonderful progress in maths”, said the tutor. “So let us now consider the following little problem: How much equals one plus three?
“Don’t know!” said the prince.
“If Your Highness would please consider: One finger plus three fingers, how much will that be if we count them?”
“Don’t know!” said the prince.
“I implore Your Highness, please: just count the fingers: one plus three equals four!”
“Can’t be!” said the prince.
“And what makes Your Highness think that?”
“Because”, said the prince, “just now you said two plus two equals four!”

That was the kind of student the prince was.For twelve years the tutor tutored the prince. Then the king gave order that the prince had to sit for his exams. And the king also gave order that the prince had to pass the exams with the highest possible marks. The tutor tutored the prince eight hours a day instead of six, but the prince didn’t even listen, instead he turned on the TV, stared at the screen and gobbled up one chocolate bar after the other. Finally the day of the exams came and the tutor was shaking with fear. The examination board consisted of five university professors, the minister of education and the minister of transport, the king’s aunt and the king himself.
“Well, let us begin with maths”, said the tutor shivering terribly. “Your Roayal Highness, let us assume you were in the possession of six apples and you were to share these apples with your humble tutor, how many apples would remain in your possession?”
“Two” said the prince without thinking, munching a hamburger.
The tutor was horrified. He had prepared such easy questions for the prince and had exercised the answers with him for days on end. And if the prince did not pass his exams the king would of course punish the tutor, and severely at that. There was only one escape for the tutor:
“Wonderful!” he exclaimed. “With true royal generosity you would bestow four apples on me and keep only two for Your Royal Highness. An answer worthy of a royal prince without doubt!”
The tutor looked sideways at the examination board, but no one said anything.
So the tutor continued: “But, Your Highness, let us assume you were to give each of us a fair share of these six apples, how many would you get?”
“Four!” said the prince impassively.
The tutors heart sank. But what could he do? Again he exclaimed: “Wonderful! What a great answer! Naturally, you being of royal blood and me being only a humble tutor, it is only fair that I should get just two apples while you of course get four. But, Your Highness, to come to the core of the matter in question: How much equals six divided by two?”
“Two!” said the prince, his mouth full of hamburger.
“Correct!” exclaimed the tutor and clapped his hands. And then he said very quickly: “For six divided by two equals three, and if we test this we find that three goes into six two times so we have two as our result which agrees exactly with the answer Your Royal Highness was kind enough to give.”
lehrer_02.gifThe tutor was in cold sweat from fear, but nobody said anything.
“Well, Your Highness, let us turn to biology now. Which animal, in your opinon, moves faster: the falcon or the cow?”
“Cow!” said the prince and belched.
“Correct!” exclaimed the tutor with a joyous smile, and after thinking desperately he exxplained: “When both are walking, the cow of course is faster than the falcon. Let us continue. Would Your Highness please tell me: How many legs has a horse?”
“Six!” said the prince without even blinking an eye.
lehrer_03.gif“Correct!” The tutor was really thinking on his feet now. “Everybody knows that a horse is for riding, so the legs of the rider must necessarily be added to those of the horse, which of course lets us arrive at the number of six. And now, if Your Royal Highnes would be kind enough to name an example of the species of insects.”
The tutors legs were shaking and his teeth were clattering. Holding his breath he waited for the prince’s answer, which came promptly:
“Horse!” the prince said, angling for a piece of cake in his trouser pocket.
“Correct!” shouted the tutor and spread his arms. “For we can always recognize an insect by the fact that it has six legs, and having seen that the horse has six legs it must necessarily be counted among the insects.”
The tutor, shivering with fear, was about to conclude the examination, but the king with a short wave of the hand ordered him to continue.
“Well then, Your Royal Highness, graciously allow me to put to you a question from the field of geography. Kindly tell me: In which country lies the capital of France?”
The prince chewed his cake and pretended to think. He even tookt the touble to put a finger to his forehead. The he said,his mouth full of cake: “In London!”
“Correct!” exclaimed the tutor. And as he had lost all shame, he added: “What an inspired answer! ‘L’etat, c’est moi!’ the king of Franceused to say, which means: ‘The state am I’ or ‘France am I’. And it so happens that the king of France is indeed at this moment staying in London, visiting the king of England. That means that France is atthis time in London, and if France is in London, its capital must also be in London. A brilliant answer indeed. And now, Your Highness, let me just ask you…”
But at this the king interrupted the tutor. “The examination is finished. Come here my son!”
The prince stood in front of the king and the king slapped his face so hard the piece of cake flew across the room. Then he said: “You’re an idiot!”
“Your Majesty,” the tutor stammered, “I only tried to…”
But the king did not let him finish the sentence. “The prince is a perfect idiot,” he said, “but of course nobody must know! You will go on tutoring him, until he gets his MA, his BA, and his PhD. The I will buy him a palace and there he can eat cake until he bursts. You, profesor, you will be…”
“Mercy,” the tutor cried and fell on his knees.
“Don’t crawl around on the floor, when I’m talking to you, and don’tinterrupt me. You will be Minister of Public Excuses, and whenever I want to raise taxes or reduce old age pensions or start a war, you will explain to the people why this is in their own best interest. You are the best teacher I have ever met!”

Illustrations by Hansi Linthaler

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *