Kids these days. Think they know it all. The teacher says, "Black," they say, "Blue." Teacher says, "White," they say, "Off-white." Every time I make even the slightest reference to anything they might remotely know anything about, the classroom errupts in a murmured chorus: "Oh, yeah. I remember. We did that once. Back in 8th grade. Remember?"
Hands shoot up, whether the child has something substantive to contribute to the conversation, or not.
"Mrs. Scribe? Isn't that, you know, kinda like the time when..."
"Mrs. Scribe? I heard about one guy who, you know, like back in the day..."
I chalk this behavior up to my cherubs' need to know. Even if they don't have the faintest idea, they wish to make all around them think that they do.
Remember: A high school classroom is just a microcosm of the real world. I know you know some know-it-all adults, now, don't you?
The most frustrating~but at the same time funniest~high school student epiphanies often arrive by mistake. And always while they're guessing. This often happens on multiple-choice tests, when the kids are sure the correct answer is "C," only to find out that the teacher has deemed the definitive answer to be "D." And they will bend themselves into also sorts of pretzel-y shapes to prove that I am wrong and that they are correctamundo.
"But Mrs. Scribe! What if Gatsby hadn't gone over to Daisy's house the night before George shot him? Then, wouldn't the answer be 'C'?"
"But Mrs. Scribe! What if Holden had gone to Boston instead of New York after he dropped out of Pencey? Then the answer would be 'C,' for sure!"
Every year, I have at least one cherub who scribbles these "what if's" as addenda on every possible multiple-choice selection, on at least one test. One year, a young woman named Amy tried to justify every answer on every test as the correct one.
Naturally, this behavior has a name. I have deemed it the "Subjunctive Syndrome." For those of you who don't remember your English grammar, we use the subjunctive case for situations that don't really exist. If this-and-such happens, then this might then occur, etc., etc., etc.
Of course, the subjunctive form of "if" is a pie-in-the-sky mentality. A glass half-full reaction, as it were. I, however, always have a response to their "if's, and's & but's."
Mr. Fairway's Uncle Lewie, pictured above (with Mr. F. on the right), was a man of several quaint expressions. Two of his quips always come to mind when my cherubs are clamoring for an extra point or two on a test.
"If if's and but's were candy and nuts, we'd all have a very Merry Christmas."
Or, my favorite:
"If frogs had wings, they wouldn't have to hop."
Shuts them up, every time.