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The Intellectual High Jump

A metaphor



"All the six year olds!

Stand in a line.

Lets see how high you jump.


According to this table,

you should be able

to clear one half a metre.


So off you go,

Don't be slow.

I've raised the bar that high.


Oh goodness me,

poor Sally

and Bill

They just can't make it still.


I'll call the Government,

and get a grant

to find out

why you can't.


Oh by the way,

Of those of you we find are able,

Haven't you done well ?"


".. but Miss!"

"What do you want ?"

"I found it far too easy."


"That's very nice.

Now stand in line.

We've finished for the day."


Sally, and Bill,

try as they will

confounding all the experts.


The men in suits

A serious look

All terribly consumed


"Lets focus our attention

Spend the cash

put in the extra effort


Dear class,

we go too fast,

I'll have to lower the bar.


I've done the sums,

Down it comes

to Sally and Bill's best jump."


"Look at ME"

the instructor roars

"All my class can pass."


The men in suits

Wear smiles as wide

as the height of that best jump


"The program works!

What success!

I'll pat yours, you mine."


But from the corner,

the shortest whimper,

a tall and lanky lad.


Looking at his score card

wonders why it's not so hard

to get an A plus plus


"But Miss ! Why is it so easy ?"

"Be quiet!

You make me feel quite queasy"


Sad and mad

that lanky lad

quietly doubles the height.


He runs and jumps

and fairly flies

Nearly bruised the sky.


"Look Miss !

See what I've done?

I jumped a bar that high."


"Such imagination,

She warmly disbelieves.

Why are you so spacey ?

Sit back. Sit down. Put up."


No longer mad,

but very sad,

The bar was slid back down.


And so as if

a flame snuffed out

the lanky lad did bad.


He tripped one time

and clowned around

and made himself look funny.


All the kids are pleased as punch

and the teacher says one lunch

I see you try your very best,

Just like all the rest.


Yes Miss,

No Miss,

Three bags full.


His happiness turned inside out

he wore a coat of joy.

But inside, looking through

once sparkling eyes of blue

was like a dream.

a sea of goo



There's no way through.


Then one day

an odd thing happens

They call it talent search.


"Excuse me Miss,

are you the instructor ?

Give me one of your best."


"I'm sorry I don't understand,

explain yourself to me."


A sideways glance,

a knowing look,

"I want to know who jumps the bar when lifted."


"Now I see

your asking me

to segregate my kids.

Now listen here,

I'll let you know,

ALL my kids are gifted.


They all pass!

The whole damn class.

There's the door

Thanks for coming.

Bye !"


A mouse sized cough

from away in the corner

They turn and view the scene.


The lanky lad once

mad, sad, bad

but lately seems quite normal


"It's time to turn

my flame will burn

So raise the bar for me."


Miss misfires,

she stutters and speaks

with no particular meaning.


He couldn't hear,

(to much focus)

A hop.

A skip.

A run,


The bar comes forward

looms in view

a pat pat pat of springy feet,

then a gliding elegant silence.


"What is this Hocus Pocus !

I've never seen such things !

This boy !

He must be gifted.",

Miss face now beams and sings.


The talent search turn and say,

"That's not too bad from you,

although we do not understand

why you haven't had more practice.


It seems to us you've been too slack,

Improve, and we'll be back."


"Don't be cruel !"

Miss covers lad's ears,

Protect! It seems the rule.


He wriggles free,

"Listen !

You never gave me a chance !

Make it HARD, and then you'll see.

What I can really do."


Sally and Bill,

they clapped and sang.

And did a little dance.

"We're both so pleased for you."


Miss looks puzzled,

"Aren't you upset ?

Don't you feel inferior ?"


A doubled-puzzled look returned.

And the two short kids blurt out,

"You never let us rest !

You made us try our best !

The feeling, when you clear the ceiling

is never to be missed."


A humbled tutor,

Struck down with pint sized wisdom,

Turns and mocks a scowl.

"LAD, don't go too far!

Your jumps so far are fowl.

Improve your stance !

Breath in deep.

Imagine you can do it.

I m going to raise the bar."


So up it went,

and got so hard,

Until he failed three times.


With aching legs

he finally cried,

"That s the best that I can do."


"I don't believe you,"

Miss said once more,

but this time didn't mean it,

picked up the phone and dialed

U J.U.M.P.2 high.

"For you, a B + score."


"Good afternoon !

Talent search,

Please supply details.

A gifted child ?

Thank you Miss,

I'll send a man around."

* * *

When old and grey,

and musing in a rocking chair,

Miss raises her eyes to the wall,

For what hangs there

is a prize so great

as not to have a price at all.


A fading, curling, dusty print

of high jump,

Extra ordinare.