Sitting before me were a dozen boys and girls, aged nine to twelve. A week earlier, they had asked me to teach them arithmetic. They wanted to learn to add, subtract, multiply, divide, and all the rest.
"You don't really want to do this," I said, when they first approached me.
"We do, we are sure we do," was their answer.
"You don't really," I persisted. "Your neighborhood friends, your parents, your relatives probably want you to, but you yourselves would much rather be playing or doing something else."
"We know what we want, and we want to learn arithmetic. Teach us, and we'll prove it. We'll do all the homework, and work as hard as we can."
I had to yield then, skeptically. I knew that arithmetic took six years to teach in regular schools, and I was sure their interest would flag after a few months. But I had no choice. They had pressed hard, and I was cornered.
I was in for a surprise.