I recall that the topic of the assignment was “bats.” I had written my little composition, inserted several well-researched facts about bats, and illustrated it with a passable resemblance of a generic bat. By grade 2 standards it was pretty good.
When it was my turn to stand and read my composition to the class, I’m sure it went well. I’m sure the teacher said something like “well done, Anna.” But I don’t actually remember that part.
To be honest, the only reason I remember that particular assignment at all is what happened when another kid– I’ll call him Davy– stood up to read his composition. Even the halting manner in which Davy read his composition didn’t detract from the fact that it was very well written. I was puzzled, therefore, when the teacher got up from her desk while he was reading and walked quietly to the big bookcase at the back of the room. Without missing a beat, she selected a book, opened it and started to read aloud — the precise words that Davy was reading from his composition paper at the front of the room.
It took Davy a few moments to process what was happening before he stopped reading. The teacher, an imposing woman with the improbable name of “Mrs. Hickey,” then launched into a lecture on the evils of plagiarism that would have left any college student quaking in his boots. Davy slunk back to his seat.
I remember being baffled by Davy’s decision to take the easy way out. Somehow even at the age of 7 I knew that if you were going to be singled out, it was important that it be on the basis of your own words. That lesson has stuck with me.
Forty-five years later, I started this blog in the hopes of gaining some readership and recognition for my own words. I have been thrilled by every “like” and every comment. This morning I woke to a message from a WordPress Editor that one of my posts will soon be featured on Freshly Pressed — which is kind of the blogging equivalent of having your grade 2 composition on “bats” pinned on the bulletin board with a gold star.
I think Mrs. Hickey would be proud.