The Letter “W”

“Imagination is greater than knowledge.  Knowledge is limited, imagination encircles the world.”

–Albert Einstein

I was 22 and in my first month ever of teaching when a student taught me a defining lesson about education and my responsibility as a teacher.  It is one I still think of often, more than twenty years later.

We were studying the alphabet in French.  I pointed out that “W” in French was called “double v” as opposed to being called “double u” like it is in English.  I explained that in French it is the combination of two ‘v’s instead of two ‘u’s.

Alyssa let out a sad sigh.  Her classmates and I looked over at her.  She said “You ruined it.  ‘W’ was always my favorite letter; it was so funny and special and now it’s nothing anymore, just two ‘u’s mushed together.”

I knew just what she meant, we all did.  I’m sure you do too.

I did the only appropriate thing there was to do, the only authentic thing I can imagine having done, even today after so long and so much experience with a thousand different classroom scenarios:  I apologized.

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