A Different Kind of School

May 16, 2023
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The narrator visits Miss Beam’s school and observes a unique teaching method. The school focuses not only on academic subjects but also on teaching thoughtfulness, kindness, and responsibility. The students participate in activities that simulate different disabilities, such as blind, lame, deaf, injured, and dumb days. Each term, they experience a day where they must rely on others for assistance, developing empathy and understanding for those facing challenges. The students embrace these days as a game, learning valuable lessons about misfortune and the importance of helping others. The narrator interacts with a blindfolded girl and discovers the profound impact of experiencing the world through someone else’s eyes. The visit leaves the narrator more thoughtful and appreciative, confirming the effectiveness of Miss Beam’s teaching approach.

Questions and Answer

1. Put these sentences from the story in the right order and write them out in a paragraph. Don’t refer to the text.

  • I shall be so glad when today is over.
  • Having a leg tied up and hopping about on a crutch is almost fun, I guess.
  • I don’t think I’ll mind being deaf for a day — at least not much.
  • But being blind is so frightening.
  • Only you must tell me about things.
  • Let’s go for a little walk.
  • The other bad days can’t be half as bad as this

Answer: Let’s go for a little walk. Only you must tell me about things. I shall be so glad when today is over. The other bad days can’t be half as bad as this. Having a leg tied up and hopping about on a crutch is almost fun, I guess. I don’t think I’ll mind being deaf for a day—at least not much. But being blind is so frightening.

2. Answer the following questions

2.1 Why do you think the writer visited Miss Beam’s school?

Answer: The writer visited Miss Beam’s school to observe and learn about the teaching methods and philosophy employed there. The writer had heard a lot about the school and was interested in experiencing it firsthand. The writer had a conversation with Miss Beam about her teaching methods, particularly focusing on the emphasis on thoughtfulness, kindness to others, and being responsible citizens rather than solely academic subjects. Additionally, the writer expressed concern about the children who appeared to have physical difficulties, such as the girl with trouble in her eyes and the girl using crutches. Miss Beam explained that the school incorporates the experience of misfortune into the curriculum by having the children spend designated days being blind, lame, deaf, injured, or dumb, fostering empathy and understanding among the students. The writer’s visit provided insights into the unique approach of the school and left a lasting impression, leading the writer to express gratitude and acknowledge the value of Miss Beam’s system.

2.2 What was the ‘game’ that every child in the school had to play?

Answer: The “game” that every child in Miss Beam’s school had to play was the experience of misfortune. Each term, every child had designated days where they had to simulate various disabilities or challenges. This included one blind day, one lame day, one deaf day, one injured day, and one dumb day. For example, on their blind day, the children’s eyes were bandaged overnight, and they had to go through the entire day without being able to see. They were not allowed to peek and were dependent on other children to help them and guide them throughout the day.

By participating in this game, the children were able to appreciate and understand what it felt like to face different misfortunes. It aimed to cultivate empathy, thoughtfulness, and a sense of responsibility towards others. The experience of temporarily living with these challenges allowed the children to develop a greater understanding of the difficulties faced by others and fostered a compassionate and considerate attitude.

2.3 “Each term every child has one blind day, one lame day…” Complete the line. Which day was the hardest? Why was it the hardest?

Answer: “Each term every child has one blind day, one lame day, one deaf day, one injured day, and one dumb day.” Among these designated days, the hardest day for the children was the blind day. It was the most challenging because it completely deprived them of their vision, leaving them in a state of darkness and vulnerability.

During the blind day, the children’s eyes were bandaged, and they had to rely solely on their other senses to navigate the world around them. They couldn’t see anything, which heightened their fear and uncertainty. They described feeling constantly on edge, anticipating potential dangers and collisions. The absence of sight made them acutely aware of their vulnerability and the need for assistance from others.

Unlike the other days where the children could still communicate or move with some difficulty, the blind day immersed them in a world of darkness, where they had to depend entirely on others for guidance and support. This loss of independence and the constant fear of being hurt or harmed made it the most challenging day for the children in Miss Beam’s school.

2.4 What was the purpose of these special days?

Answer: The purpose of these special days in Miss Beam’s school was to teach the children empathy, thoughtfulness, and understanding towards others who experience different forms of physical challenges or disabilities. By having designated blind, lame, deaf, injured, and dumb days, the children were given firsthand experiences of what it feels like to live with these conditions.

The school aimed to foster a sense of compassion and appreciation for the difficulties faced by individuals who have physical limitations. Through these experiences, the children learned to put themselves in the shoes of others, developing empathy and understanding towards those who may be less fortunate or differently abled. They gained a deeper awareness of the daily struggles and obstacles faced by people with disabilities, cultivating a sense of kindness, respect, and inclusivity.

By actively participating in these “misfortune” days and taking on the roles of both the affected and the helpers, the children not only learned about the challenges faced by others but also the importance of offering support and assistance. These experiences helped shape their character, instilling values of empathy, compassion, and responsibility, which went beyond mere academic learning. The ultimate goal was to nurture thoughtful and responsible citizens who would contribute positively to society and treat others with kindness and understanding.

Word meaning

  1. in sight: to be seen
  2. kindly: friendly
  3. plump: stout, pleasantly fat
  4. responsible: aware of their duties
  5. at play: playing
  6. hopeless: unfortunate; without hope
  7. lame day: day on which she acts as if she was lame
  8. misfortune: unfortunate condition; bad luck
  9. their eyes are bandaged: they are blindfolded
  10. are on their honour: have promised
  11. misery: difficulty; unpleasantness
  12. thoughtless: careless
  13. come to talk: who has come to talk
  14. awful: bad
  15. troublesome: difficult
  16. gradually: slowly

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