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Syd Hoff, A Hundred Times

Miss Compton was pretty so much prettier than any other teacher in P. S. 189, or any other lady he had ever seen. That's all Philip could think of ever
since the new term began.
"Philip, have you been listening to me?" she asked suddenly.
He felt his cheeks getting hot. "N-no ma'am."
"Then you will please step to the blackboard and write a hundred times 'I must pay attention in class.'"
Philip obeyed. He stood at the blackboard and wrote until the chalk in his hand almost disappeared, while the rest of the class went on with the
arithmetic lesson.
When he was finished, Philip went back to his seat and continued looking at Miss Compton.
Only Allan Harbach, alongside him, knew how Philip felt. "Philip loves Miss Compton," he said in a low voice so nobody else could hear.
Philip reached over and punched him. What Allan said was true, but he didn't want to hear it, maybe because Allan made it sound like something quite
dirty.
"Why did you do that?" Miss Compton asked, coming up the aisle. She was even pretty when she was angry.
Philip could only hang his head.
"It was a very nasty thing to do," the teacher said, observing the other boy's mouth bleeding.
"Allan, why did Philip attack you?"
"I can't tell, Miss Compton. I can't tell on Philip because I'm no tattletale."
No wonder Philip returned to the backboard, this time to write:
I must never strike Allan.
I must never strike Allan.
I must never . . .
When he got back to his seat this time, Allan whispered "I'll get even with you, Philip. You'll see." He knew how to whisper so Miss Compton wouldn't
catch him.
Not Philip. When he tried to whisper an apology, he wound up at the backboard once more:
I must never talk in class.
I must never talk in class.
I must never . . .
And Allan? He became a monitor.
"Class, Allan is your monitor. He will stand at the top of the staircase and report any talking in line or other infractions of the rules."
Philip tried to be careful on that staircase. He had a feeling the new monitor would try to make trouble for him.
He wasn't wrong:
I must never drop papers on the staircase . . .
I must never whistle in line . . .
I must never spit . . .
Who had done any of those things? Not Philip. But it was easier to write on the blackboard than argue with Allan. And who wanted to make Miss
Compton mad anyway?
"Listen, Allan, want this ballpoint pen? I've got two of them."
"Who needs your ballpoint pen?"
"How about my bike? You can ride it all afternoon."
"Keep your old bike."
"Hey, how about you and me having a catch I've got a dandy new bell. A high bouncer."
"I wouldn't catch with you if you had the last ball in the world. "
Philip was ready to give up. What else could he invite Allan to do after school?
"Here, take a punch at me, Allan, then we can be even."
Allan sneered and walked away.
Came the big test in math and Philip thought the other boy was willing to be friends after all.
There was Allan turning his paper toward him, straight toward him! It was too much to resist, looking at that paper, so:
I must never cheat on a test.
I must never cheat on a test.
I must never . . .
It was inevitable that Miss Compton should send for one of Philip's parents.
"Perhaps I ought to go, said Philip's father.
"Nonsense," said his mother. I'm sure no capital crime has been committed. What's the point in your taking time off from the office?"
Philip stood before the two women, thoroughly ashamed. "I'll try to do better," he promised.
"I'll try."
"I've been having your son do a little writing on the blackboard whenever he does something naughty," said Miss Compton.
"Ah, yes a hundred times," smiled Mrs. Gersten. "They used to do that in my day, too."
"Teaching's changed in many ways, but some of the old methods are still the best."
"I'm sure; they are. I was only saying to my husband the other day . . ."
Later at home Philip's mother said to him, "She's very pretty, your teacher."
"I know," he said, feeling himself blushing and repeated what he had already promised. "I'll try to do better. I'll try."
It didn't do any good. He went on paying for the misdeeds Allan arranged for him, writing on the blackboard until his fingers hurt.
"The Board of Education provides us with plenty of chalk," Miss Compton said grimly.
I must never shout on the staircase . . .
I must never write on the walls any . . .
I must go down one step at a time . . .
I must not be in a hurry . . .
At least his rows were getting neater; he hoped she noticed.
One morning Philip arrived at school a little late and the staircase was empty, except for Allan standing waiting at the top of it, a big grin on his face.
"Destroying school property, huh?" he chuckled grabbing the books from Philip's hand and tearing out pages as Philip tried to pass him.
The second bell hadn't rung yet, and there was too much noise in the building for anybody to hear.
"You're tardy," Miss Compton started to say when Philip entered the room, but the boy walked directly to the blackboard.
He picked up a piece of chalk and started writing.
"Philip, go to your seat until I tell you to do that," said the teacher, then stopped as she saw the words in white forming on the black slate:
I must never push Allan down the staircase . . .
I must never push Allan down the staircase . . .
I must never push Allan down the staircase . . .
I must never . . .
He had written it almost a dozen times before she could bring herself to run out in the hall and look over the bannister, while the sound of the chalk
screeched on and on in her ears.


(about 1060 words)



Assignments

1. Comprehension

Read the short story carefully.

Then give a written synopsis of not more than one hundred words. Use your own words. Do not copy the text. Write complete sentences.
Think before you write down a sentence.
Check your sentence after writing it down.

2. Analysis and discussion

2.1. Analyse the short story as to
2.1.1. theme
2.1.2. structure
2.1.3. setting
2.1.4. characters.
2.2. Miss Compton says: "Teaching's changed in many ways, but some of the old methods are still the best."
2.2.1. What do you think are "old methods" of education?
2.2.2. Are they really still the best? Prove your opinion by giving examples from your own experience as to family and school life.

 
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