The Boy and the Teacher. There was a boy who hated learning his letters. His father made him go to school, but none of the teacher's kind words could induce him to say even the first letter of the alphabet. "Open you mouth," the teacher said, "which is what you must do to say the first letter." So the boy opened his mouth in a wide gape, but without making a sound. The teacher saw that his efforts were in vain and, since he was not the sort who believed in beating little boys or beginners, he told the boy to go sit with the other pupils, while urging them to persuade him to say the letter "A" or any letter at all if he could. The other pupils each did their best to encourage the boy, saying, "It's not so hard to say the letter "A" after all." But the wily boy replied, "It's not so hard to say "A", but if I were to say "A" then he'd want me to say "B" and so on. There's no way that teacher or my father can force me to learn."
Puer et Praeceptor . Puer, osor literarum, in ludum literarium a patre deductus, nullis magistri blanditiis induci poterat ut primam alphabeti proferret literam. Tum praceptor "Aperi os," inquit, "quod huius literae exigit enuntiatio." Ille vero hiabat, sed absque voce. Praeceptor, videns laborem suum irritum (neque enim puerulum ac novitium verberandum censebat) iubet eum inter condiscipulos sedere, eos monens ut illi persuadeant hanc vel saltem literam efferre. Tum condiscipuli pro virili quisque eum hortabantur, dicentes, "Estne tantus labor A dicere?" At puer versutus "Non est," inquit, "arduum dicere A, sed si A dicerem, vellet ut B dicerem, et C. Non erit ea vis praeceptori patrique ut discam." Morale. Fabula indicat nolentes discere, a nemine posse compelli.
Notes. This is Abstemius 175. As usual with Abstemius, it is not found in Perry's inventory. This is one of my favorite fables by Abstemius and it is a sad commentary indeed that, hundreds of years later, we still have not learned that education by coercion is not education at all.