“Never was such a sudden scholar made.”
-- Shakespeare, Henry V
When I read yesterday about the sudden transformation of reckless Prince Hal into no-nonsense and scholarly King Henry V, I thought of my ninth grade students, many of whom seemed to metamorphose from whimsical kids into searching and insightful scholars over the course of last summer. I recall being somewhat astonished in September when many of the naïve and capricious kids I taught last year returned to school as considerate and discerning young adults. Silliness had become pleasantly mixed with earnestness, and the almost constant quirkiness of eighth graders had grown into a kind of mellow and settled creativity. I remember wondering if it was the summer sunshine that had sent these kids soaring from one stage of life up to another, or perhaps just the long weeks of looseness and independence had done it. They were, for sure, “sudden scholars” – heedless children who had suddenly become blossoming intellectuals. I guess it’s not really that surprising though, considering the instantaneous transformations I see each day. Clouds quickly part and there’s the sun; birds cluster in a tree and then, in a second, vanish; leaves and limbs shake in winds and are suddenly motionless; a train roars past and is gone and all is silent again. This morning outside my windows, the darkness of night didn’t stop a new day from swiftly starting the instant the sun rose over Mystic, and, in a few hours, a new night will come upon us with abruptness when, suddenly, it will be dark again. The world I live in is an unsettled place, full of wonders, so it’s not surprising that my students sometimes shock me with their transformations – kids into grown-ups, youngsters into sudden scholars.