When California teacher Bret Turner presented his Year One class with a riddle on the first day back from school holidays, his intention was probably to get them thinking outside the box for the first time in weeks.
But he didn’t expect that outside that box, their thinking could be so… morbid.
On the first Monday in January, Turner posed the following question to his students:
“I am the beginning of everything, the end of everywhere. I’m the beginning of eternity, the end of time and space. What am I?”
To be honest, it’s a pretty hectic riddle for a group of six-year-old’s, but that’s fine.
According to Turner, the first guess from the class left “such an awed, somber [sic], reflective hush… over the class,” that he didn’t want to tell them the actual answer, which “seemed so banal in the moment”.
That first guess was ‘death’.
The first guess from one of my 1st graders was “death” and such an awed, somber, reflective hush fell over the class that I didn’t want to tell them that actually the answer is the letter e, which just seemed so banal in the moment pic.twitter.com/7sYFxHNcZk
— Bret Turner (@bretjturner) January 2, 2018
Yes, well, that’s way too real.
The answer, in fact, is the letter ‘e’, which, while technically correct, seems way too simplistic in comparison to the Year One student who apparently is goddamn Friedrich Nietzsche in disguise.
Once his initial tweet went viral, Turner shared that in class, “before I finally revealed the ‘correct’ answer to the riddle, to a largely unimpressed audience, I fielded other guesses that continued along a similarly existential vein”.
“There was ‘NOT everything’, ‘all stuff’, ‘the end’, and maybe my favorite, ‘nothingthing’.”
He also added, "I’m considering telling the kids tomorrow that a tweet about them went viral, and given their facility with the internets, I expect their response will be 'sure but did it go SUPERviral' and 'just how many retweets are we talking about here' and 'can I go to the bathroom'."
That last question is very valid.
Like Bret Turner, most of us have had a moment where we start to genuinely fear that young children are smarter than us. Then they eat dirt or get distracted by their feet or ask where bubbles come from, and we breathe a sigh of relief that for just a little while longer, they think we have the answers.
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