A Case of Apple Polishing

A Case of Apple Polishing

The practice of giving the teacher an apple did not originate with the modern schoolchild. Actually it is a very old custom that was practiced in ancient times when some long—forgotten student discovered that poor performance might be ignored in proportion to the favors presented to the teacher.

Ancient Sumer calls up visions of crumbled walls and ruins, but the daily life of the Sumerians is well recorded in the writings left by the people of that long—gone age. It could be said that by etching their clay tablets the people often recorded a form of diary.

Outstanding is a series of tablets left by a schoolboy who was having some difficulties. His earliest account tells how he recited his tablet, ate his lunch, and prepared a new tablet. One can almost envision the young boy shaping and smoothing his tablets of clay and copying his lessons for the day, probably from a master tablet.

As the boy's record continues, he appears to have done something wrong that precipitated a rather bad day at school, because he was repeatedly flogged. In desperation he asked his father to invite the teacher to their home for an evening meal.

The father did just that, and the teacher was wined and dined and even given a new garment. The scheme apparently worked; as he was leaving the teacher proclaimed that the boy was already "becoming a man of learning." The scientist who translated the boy's tablets refers to this account as the earliest case of apple polishing. And this happened at least 4,000 years ago!

 

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From the book: 
Our Fascinating Earth