Everyone who bothered about such things was delighted that a new young teacher, female, distinguished at the university, liberal in outlook, and an active member of the local Socialist Party would start the new term at the State school as a member of the teaching staff.
She was perfectly able (and qualified) to teach a number of subjects. The Head Teacher gave her a notoriously difficult class, 5b, to launch her into the mine-strewn fields of elementary school teaching. The subject was History. After subduing the customary row that greeted a new teacher, by the simple method of talking in a gradually decreasing tone to the pupils until they stopped gassing altogether – so that they could hear her voice – she asked for questions.
“Yore a Socialist. Wot’s Socialism?” asked a rough-looking specimen from the back row of desks. There was no “Please Miss?” or “Could you please. . .” about the questioner. The back row at school is always reserved for the slackers, the bully and the classroom lawyer.
Miss Primm looked at the speaker, who had not of course raised his hand. “Most suitable!” she said, and went on, “Socialism is perfectly simple really. It means Equality is All! Let’s take your exam results, for instance. I’ve no doubt those of you who work hard, take trouble over your spelling, grammar and punctuation etcetera, will get high valuations in your exams – some of you will get a 9, an 8, some of you a 7.5 and so on. Those who who do not work, never even start your preparation, do not take notes, talk to each other during classes – thinghs like that – will get a 3 or a 4. You will fail, in so many words.”
There was a moan of discontent in the classroom. “But fear not!” said Miss Primm brightly, and went on; “This is where Socialism comes in. Listen carefully. What if I award every single student a 7.5? Then you will all pass the exam; those who have worked doubly as hard as anyone else will be satisfied. Those who have worked not at all will be overjoyed.”
Almost everybody applauded, except those who might have thought that their damned hard work deserved more than a lousy 7.5. Still, this was Socialism in its finest form.
Came the first examinations and all the students got a 7.5 result, even the joker in the back row, who had spent the last few weeks investigating possible sales of crack among the fourth formers. There were some complainers though, the brightest and best in the class who thought they deserved an 8.5 or a 9. They went to see Miss Primm. She heartily agreed, but reminded them that the presence of real learners among the thirty in the class was only 4.5%. She told them to wait and see. Equality was everything.
At the next exam everybody in the class got a 5.5. This dissatisfied most of the students because the slackers and brainless wanted their 7.5 for doing nothing and those who had actually done some work expected more than a 5.5, and the geniuses still wanted their 9. What could Miss Primm do?
The end-of-term examinations arrived. The new teacher excelled herself.Now, she thought, everyone would be satisfied. She gave the lot a 4! They all failed. That, she happily explained to the crestfallen class, is the definition of Socialism.