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Advyce For The Sesoun Of Returninge To Scole

Geoffrey Chaucer, best known for his work the Canterbury Tales.
Hulton Archive
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Geoffrey Chaucer, best known for his work the Canterbury Tales.

Editor's Note: This piece is part of an occasional series of advice columns from the Internet's own Chaucer Doth Tweet. We've brought him back this fall to advise us on all things school-related. As usual, Middle English is involved.

Gentil folke, yt ys wyse and profitable to seeke advyce and counsel yn all thinges. And whanne the dayes of the scole yeare do return yn fall, then advyce and counsel ys moost necessarye.

The good folke of NPR have solicited yower scholastique questiouns thrugh Twytter, the greatest system for passinge notes yn the back of classe evir ynvented. Ich, Geoffrey Chaucer, minor bureaucratte and woulde-be poet, am heere to helpe wyth sum tippes on how to staye cool yn scole.

Trewelye, the seleccioun of clothinge to weare to scole ys a matter of great debate and great worrye. Take hearte, and alwayes remembir that the best outfitte ys the outfitte that doth make thee readye to daunse and singe no mattir what challenge doth face thee. And thys doth differ for al folke.

Thynke of a compaignye of travelers goinge on pilgrimage. Doth but one maner of dress and style suffyce for al those sondry folke? Hecke no. Sum weare a symple white coate and blue hood and carrye bagpipes, and sum weare a rough tunic stayned wyth the rust of their armor, and othirs weare a fyne cloak and coral beades and golden brooch. And so yt ys wyth scole, the which ys a straunge pilgrimage ful of both hardeshippe and solaas. Al who treade the longe way of learninge shal weare their varyed maners of dress and rejoice yn yt.

As for picture daye, Ich counsel thee to bringe a symbol of thy chosen crafte or professioun to hoold yn thy portrait. Yf thou art a smith, hoolde thy tooles of smithinge yn thy picture, and yf thou art a computer coder, hoolde a fyne laptoppe yn thy picture, and yf thou art an explorer of endless circles of boredom and befuddelment and mysterye, bringe a copye of Piers Plowman.

One daye my Lord King Richard II dyd take me to a secret roome yn the tower. Yt was a darke and spacious chamber wher were kept the moost auncient of bokes undir the moost auncient of dust. Lo! Yn the lettirs of ages past, Ich read the storye of Beowulf, and also the sequel to Beowulf, the which was callid Beowulf II, and eke the grittye existential anthologye-based reboot of Beowulf, the which was callid True Beowulf.

And the spellinge! Yn al those tales, the spellinge was no thinge lyke the modern and correct spellinge that Ich do use. Thirtye percent of the wordes koude have been the names for Klingon captaynes. Go back but a fewe centuryes, and spellinge doth go completely sidewayes. And thus, goode folk, from those olde bokes we maye take the lessoun that spellinge ys but a temporarye agreement for a litel tyme, lyke unto a familyes house rules for Monopolye.

The strategie that Ich advyse for spellinge ys nat to worrye too much by cause yt will all chaunge anywaye. Thynke of thy readeres and thyne audience, and crafte yower wordes for their comprehensioun. And make thy wordes rynge lyke belles wyth trouthe, or wit, or humour, or good lore, and bynde thy wordes yn good lettirs that carrye their magic. For al who wryte shoulde worrye nat overmuch about spellinge but yn stead shoulde stryve to cast a spelle.

Manye and varied are the discussiouns of All-Nighteres among those wyse yn lore. Forsooth, even the great sage Aristotle doth wryte yn the booke On Cramming, "An All-Nighter ys no thinge but a certayn path to vydeo games." And the poet Marie de France doth telle the fable of the wyse owl who dyd studye ahead of tyme and the foolish squirrel who dyd rely overmuch on an All-Nighter but on that nighte dyd ynstead wacche all of the showe of the Men Who Are Madde.

And yet Ich saye that an All-Nighter may be a thinge of great goodenesse and rightfulnesse – yf yt ys done wyth frendes. Call togethir yower companiouns and planne aheade. Fynde a place to studye, and brewe the rich elixir of coffee, and have everyone bringe sum maner of daintye baked goodes (And that doth meane EVERYONE – no slouchinge, Todd!). Gathir yower felloweship and take counsel togethir. Recyte the wordes of knowledge, and use the cardes of flash, and laugh, and let the talke of yower lerninge blende wyth the talke of yower lyves lyke the harmonyes of a songe. Manye yeares aftir the exam, ye shal remembir the felloweship that ye hadde that nighte wyth yower scoler-companiouns. And trewelye those lessouns of friendshippe are wiser and deeper lore, and of greater duracioun, even than Calculus or Ynvertebrate Biologye. That ys the hearte of an All-Nighter.

Yet also, yn the name of al that ys goode, studye biforehand and do nat place all of thy trust yn the All-Nighter alone. As yt ys wyth the feedinge of cattes, so wyth studyinge. Yf thou dost let the kibble disappear completelye from the catte foode bowle, the catte shal yowl and make great complainte and disaster shal folowe. But fille the bowl litel by litel, daye by daye, and the yowlinge and disaster shal nevir come and thy catte shal be moost mirthful. And so yt ys wyth the kibble of learninge and the bowl of thy mynde and the unrulye and demandinge catte of grades.

May scole be good to thee, goode folke, thyne all-nighteres joyous, and thy cattes nat too yowly,


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Geoffrey "Le Vostre GC" Chaucer
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