Not quite ready for Carnegie Hall
With 48 minutes remaining in the four-hour early morning test session, the proctor, Mr. Stanley, stood in front of the participants and said, “May I have your attention for just a moment please? I realize we have exactly 48 minutes to go and I will credit you with an extra five minutes for this one-minute exercise, but would you drop your pencils and close your eyes for a moment?”
Thirty-two students looked around at each other, but each dropping the pencils they were holding and closed their eyes.
“For the next sixty seconds, I’d like you to just listen. What do you hear?”
It was an odd exercise, to be sure. Mr. Stanley was not known for his pranks or practical jokes, especially when it involved students taking a national standardized test.
And for one half minute, the students remained silent, but they had no idea why, or why Mr. Stanley asked them to remain silent. He was out in front of the class waving his hands as if he were a symphony conductor. He himself had his eyes closed, but the students didn’t hear what he was hearing.
Ross Bentley, resident class clown, was the first to catch on. He smiled and looked around at his fellow students. When he caught Delilah’s eye, he pointed to his belly. She closed her eyes and smiled as well. It didn’t take the full minute for the entire 32 students to pass the word along about what Mr. Stanley was conducting, a room full of hungry testing students. Their stomach growls were now as evident as the man trying to conduct them. The minute of silence was closer to two minutes, but nobody seemed to mind.
“Thank you, ladies and gentlemen,” Mr. Stanley said. “I have credited you with five additional minutes to get your focus back on the exam. You have 53 minutes remaining. Good luck. And hopefully, you all have great lunch plans. After what I heard today, I hope you do.”