Describe what happens to Brian that day at school.
Compare the different ways in which the two teachers deal with Brian and examine how the author presents them.
Choose one of the following tasks:
"The whole art of teaching is only the art of awakening the natural curiosity of young minds for the purpose of satisfying it afterwards."
(Anatole France, French poet, journalist and novelist, 1844 - 1924)
Discuss this statement.
$ \quad \quad \;$ OR
"Distrust of authority should be the first civic duty."
(Norman Douglas, Scottish writer, 1868 - 1952)
Discuss this statement.
W.O. Mitchell: Who has seen the wind
It's Brian's first day at school, a day that he has long awaited. He is old enough now and wants to find out all aboout things. His friend Artie Sherry is already in grade three, but they will be in the same classroom with the same teacher, Miss MacDonald.
The first excitement over, Brian began to find school a rather disappointing affair.
Forbsie sat across from him, Artie two rows over. He would go over and see Artie for a while, Brian decided; he got up and started down the aisle. Miss MacDonald, at the board, turned and saw him. "Sit down, Brian."
"I'm just going over to see Artie."
"You'll have to sit down." She turned back to the board.
Brian continued on his journey to Artie. She wasn't his mother; he wasn't hurting anything; he wasn't doing anything wrong.
"I said to sit down!"
He stopped at the end of the aisle. "I just want to see Artie for a minute."
"You must put up your hand if you want something, Then I'll give you permission to see Artie."
He stood watching her.
"Sit down in your seat."
He continued to stand. Miss MacDonald's thin face reddened slightly. She bit her lip. "Sit down!"
Brian stood. Utter classroom quit had descended. Outside the window a meadow lark went up his bright scale with a one-two-three-and-here-I-go. Miss MacDonald began to walk down the aisle in which Brian was standing. He reached into his hip pocket and felt the comfort of the water pistol there. Miss MacDonald stopped three seats ahead of him. "Will you sit down!" Wordlessly he drew the pistol out, being careful not to squeeze the butt. He held it behind his
back. Miss MacDonald reached out her hand to guide him back to his seat. It paused in mid-air as Brian brought the water pistol to view. One clear drop of water hung from the end pointing at Miss MacDonald midriff. Her mouth flew open. She stared at the pistol and at the slight drip of water from the small hand holding it.
"I filled it," Brian assured her, "out of the fountain."
Her face flamed. "Give me that pistol!"
He made no move to hand it to her.
Her hand darted out to the water pistol. Startled, Brian squeezed. The pistol squirted. Miss MacDonald, with her dripping hand, jerked the pistol from his grasp. She propelled him from the room.
As he walked ahead of her to the end of the hall where the Principal's office was, Brian's heart pounded; he was in for it. The front of her dress dripping, Miss MacDonald knocked on the Principal's door. It opened, and Mr. Digby, tall and sandy-haired, a questioning look upon his rough face, stood there.
With emotion poorly concealed, Miss MacDonald told him what had happened, the indignant
spray of saliva from her thin lips unheeded, the corners of her mouth quivering.
When she had finished, Digby said: -
"You'd better let your classes go. Miss Spencer has hers. I'll attend to Brian."
The door closed on Miss MacDonald's outraged back.
Mr. Digby walked to the desk, sat down; he leaned forward with his elbows on the top.
The boy stared at him.
With his dark gaze deliberately unflinching, Brian continued to stare.
Mr Digby's long fingers began to drum the desk top. He leaned back in the chair; the fingers
drummed on. He cleared his throat. "Don't - Won't you talk to me?"
Unchanged, Brian's face looked up to the Principal; no expression was there, certainly no inclination to talk was indicated. Mr. Digby rose from his chair, Brian's eyes lifting with him.
"You don't like school, Brian?"
No sign betrayed Brian's response one way or the other to the institution of education.
"We're only trying to - to" What were they trying to do?
He'd talked it over enough with Hislop when he'd been here. Each year a new crop. Teach them to line up six times a day, regulate their lives with bells, trim off the uncomfortable habits, the unsocial ones - or was it simply the ones that interfered with …? "We … want to help you. You want people to like you, don't you?"
He could see the gentle swell and ebb of the boy's chest under his sweater, that and nothing
"You want to get along with people. You want to grow up to be …" An individual whose every emotion, wish, action, was the resultant of two forces: what he felt and truly wanted, what he thought he should feel and ought to want. Give him the faiths that belonged to all other men.
His mind shied from his thinking like a horse from too high a jump. The thing was to get the
child to talk - without frightening it out of him. "Miss MacDonald is your teacher now. You must do as she says. It's - it's like …"
He cast about for something to say, any wedge to slip under the barrier between them. "You do what your mother tells you," he pried. "You don't disobey her."
Still no interest or understanding showed in the boy's dark eyes.
What would the boy understand?
"Have you a dog, Brian?"
There was a flicker of the boy's eyes. That was it.
"He does what you tell him. You expect him to do what you want him to. A dog isn't much good if he won't do what he's told." He looked for a moment at the boy with his erect back, his legs
slightly apart. "Does he do any tricks?"
"He can jump over -" The words spilled out, then stopped.
"Over your arms if you hold them out?"
"Over a stick," Brian corrected him.
"Oh." The teacher was silent because he knew it was the right moment to say nothing.
W.O. Mitchell: Who has seen the wind, 1974, pp. 71-75