#313 – The Greatest American

In at least one woman’s opinion, I’m a terrible teacher. I’m not so sure though. Like I told Ms. McDaniel today, even the best educator requires minimally adequate brainpower from his students. It’s not my fault Ernie’s mental battery isn’t fully charged.

Today’s issues stem from last week’s mentoring session, when my third-grade charge asked me a simple question: “Who do you think’s the greatest American ever?”

He didn’t say why he wanted to know, and I didn’t bother to ask. Instead, I merely queried if I could choose anyone at all.

“No, not just anyone,” he replied. “Pick from George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Paul Revere, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt.”

I pondered carefully and chose Roosevelt. In turn, Ernie inquired: “What’s so great about him?”

For the next twenty minutes, I provided a thumbnail sketch of President Roosevelt’s numerous accomplishments. I explained that he: a) was our first and only four-term President; b) got elected and served despite being confined to a wheelchair after contracting polio; c) battled the Great Depression by lifting American’s spirits with his fireside chats, and by implementing innovative economic programs such as the New Deal; and d) led the country to victory against the Nazis and Japan in World War II, despite dying before final victory. In short, even without knowing about the lad’s homework assignment, I handed him all the information he’d need to write a first-rate essay on our 32’d President.

“Oh, really?” Ms. McDaniel skeptically questioned, after I’d related my conversation with the boy. “Would you like to see how Ernie interpreted your presidential summary?”

Without awaiting my assent, the teacher passed over a one-page paper entitled “Why I’m the greatest American, by Franklin Roosevelt”:

I’m the greatest American because I’m the only president who played polo in a wheelchair. All the people back then were really depressed because they didn’t have clothes. But I cheered them up by sitting in the fire and talking to them. I also gave them a nude deal so everyone was able to buy pants. Then I started a war with the notsees. They were a bunch of blind people I think. I killed them and won the war but I died too.

Suffice it to say, I promised Ms. McDaniel I’d leave the educating to her from now on.

Perhaps the greatest American?

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