(The following is a little story about yours truly as a very little girl, told me by someone who knew me sort of ... peripherally, as I was growing up. I should add that I have no memory of this incident, but at the same time, it rings very true. I won't say it is to my credit in any way, but I thought that it might amuse.--Z)
Once upon a time, not long ago and not far away, there lived a pleasant little girl on a pleasant little farm on a pleasant little hill.
She ran out in the fields and she played with the chickens, and in the mornings when the long yellow bus labored up her little hill, she hopped in at the appointed time and rode down the hill to school.
She was a smart little girl; everyone could see it. Whatever she set her mind to, she could do. Any task her teachers gave her was dispatched without much effort, so they sent her to the class for people like that on the far side of the playground.
The smart little girl was perhaps a bit distracted on the day that she was told what she should do. She should research a little project and provide an oral report, not much more than just a sentence or two. The subject she was given, something about a Martin Luther, was perhaps not at the center of her interest. Or perhaps she felt rebellious and refused to do her homework. I'm pretty sure we will never know.
The intelligence of children is not the wisdom of the innocent. These ideas live on separate planes.
On the day of the assignment, she began to have second thoughts, as the other students gave their talks about their subjects. It had not occurred to her that public humiliation lay in store for the unmotivated as far as speaking assignments were concerned. And she became more than a little nervous.
What could one say about Martin Luther King, given that one had researched not a whit? No problem - she was smart - surely there were a few morsels of fact that could be gleaned from that name. Or at least a sentence? Right?
Well, finally her turn came; she stood up and cleared her throat. And she began:
"Martin Luther King ... was a _very_ good King. He ruled his country well and wisely..."