Once upon a time, in a not-so-faraway kingdom lived a beautiful maiden. She loved children and learning, so she decided to become a teacher.
After four long years of college, this lovely maiden was eager to go to work in a school. At last, she could have a classroom to call her very own! Well, sort of. For this fifth year, she was required to complete her student teaching, closely supervised by a bevy of judges. And, despite the long hours and tremendous responsibilities, the maiden was not compensated for her work; in fact, she paid handsomely for the privilege. Since her kingdom required a year of indentured servitude before she could strike out on her own, she had no choice but to obey.
Finally, the day came when she could proudly display her name on the door of Cinder Elementary. Her courage grew along with her skills and strengths, and the children flocked to her classroom each day to learn all about the world as they knew it then. She was surprised every week, it seemed, that something else was being added to her lengthy requirements. The maiden took it all in good cheer, however, because she was slowly getting to know herself and her students and wanted to do everything she could to make them the smartest, strongest, and fastest in the land. She genuinely loved her students, and they in turn, loved her right back.
Eventually the day came when all the children were tested. A council of judges was brought in. The students were quizzed, poked, prodded, measured, and analyzed from top to bottom. They were asked about poetry, the heavens, animal husbandry, alchemy, and architecture. Oratory performances were critiqued. Mathematics problems of all sorts were presented. Clearly, some children were better than others at certain subjects. The maiden asked for opportunities to demonstrate each child’s individual strengths, but the council refused. All children must meet minimum standards, at the appointed time, or else.
Most of the students had been earnest in their preparation for these examinations. Alas, some were not. The maiden noticed two brothers in particular, one very bright but downright lazy and crude. The other, delightful in temperament, was a happy worker who doggedly took each challenge as it came,
but sadly lacked even basic abilities. Oftentimes the maiden wished she could borrow her fairy godmother’s magic wand, to transfer some of the talents from the lazy brother to the hard-working one. She magnanimously wanted to use the wand to make all the children want to learn, and master all subjects. She learned the hard way that while some wishes come true, many unfortunately do not.
Eventually a new king came into power. King Richard the Lameduckhearted rode into the village one day and demanded that the schools be changed, according to the advice of some of the merchants. King Richard was not an unkind man; most believed he really did want the best schools for the children of his kingdom. Trouble was, he somehow got mixed up with the wrong crowd. These advisers, many of whom were known as the robber barons, were not solely interested in each child. To them, you see, it was all about profit. They wanted to use the well-performing students to make money. And what to do with those children who struggled? Well, the horse’s stalls always needed mucking out.
Then, as if by a miracle, something wonderful happened! One night, in a dream, King Richard the Lameduckhearted began to see things clearly. (Maybe the fairy godmother’s magic wand worked after all!) He realized that, yes; the schools of his kingdom are fine institutions that could be made even more wonderful. But asking the robber barons for help in these endeavors would be like the fox guarding the henhouse. So, King Richard instead sought the wise counsel of the school elders, the professors emeritus who had actually worked with children. The leaders of the finest schools should certainly be asked how to tackle these problems, and that’s exactly what King Richard did.
And they ALL learned happily ever after.