When I was at school, I loved the Portuguese class writing assignments. Some would be free themed, others would have a specific topic, a few would require some research but the majority not really; I loved it all, as long as the task was creative writing. In fact, I loved it so much that I would, on occasion, write some of my friends’ essays too!
My high school Portuguese teacher was beyond superb; she was inspiring and supportive and took her role of preparing us for life very seriously. There was this story she would tell us often that really stuck with me.
At uni, her class was to sit a History test on three Portuguese kings. So far so good, but the small problem was – they had covered 10 kings and didn’t know which three would feature in the test. What to do in the little time they had? Study a few kings really well and risk it? Study all 10 to a lesser degree? Decisions, hey? The majority of the class went with the latter option, but there was this one chap, let’s call him Mr Strategy, who decided to study just three kings to a high standard. Brave, said some of us; risky, said others.
Test day came and Mr Strategy was in luck; two out of the three kings he had studied were featured. 2/3 done. And then there was this third question… The thing with Mr Strategy was he was not to be defeated; he had it covered. And so he started his answer “King D. Dinis has transformed the agricultural landscape of the country and introduced XYZ reforms, but King D. Joao II – known has Prince Perfect – really surpassed him in popularity and contributions to the country”. And off he went to write a full answer talking about a completely different king.
Turns out the lecturer saw right through him – of course! – but also appreciated the innovative spirit, creativity and ability to get himself out of a tricky situation; so much so he gave Mr Startegy's answer half of the attributable points for that question!
This really stayed with me. First just at school; always write something, anything, to all questions. Always give it a go. But more importantly, it stayed with me for life – don’t all good teachers and their stories?
There’s always something you can do, if you’re creative about it (and a tad bit brave!). There’s always another angle, another perspective, another way to look at things that will sort it for you, whatever it may be. Just give it a go!