SWFM20: Let’s interact

“Students of Class 10, does copying feel swell?”

While the words of Class 7’s form teacher, Zhang Xiuyun, were clearly targeted, she had expressly said ‘Students of Class 10’. Therefore, the students of Class 10 were enraged. There were some who snorted, some who hit the table, and even some who jeered, but out of their habitual respect towards teachers, no one spoke directly against her.

“Mrs Zhang, what is the meaning of this?” Standing by the doorway, Old Zhou suppressed his anger as he asked.

“The meaning? Just ask some certain students of yours,” Zhang Xiuyun cocked her head to the side, replying without even the slightest semblance of politeness.

As per Xu Tingsheng’s impression from his previous life, Zhang Xiuyun was a very domineering woman. Her relationship with most teachers was not all that great, and she herself seemed not to care very much about this.

However, the events that had unfolded had still diverged from that within his memories. When Mrs Zhang Xiuyun had first appeared at the doorway of Class 10, Xu Tingsheng had still thought that as in his previous life, she was here to invite him to interact with the students of Class 7, sharing his studying methods on Combined Humanities. In the end, it had just been his wishful thinking. Zhang Xiuqing had walked straight to the front of the room, blasting out with such a sentence.

When she had been speaking, her gaze had fallen on Xu Tingsheng.

Having been right behind Old Zhou in leaving the office, Vice Chairman Zhang held him back, he who was demonstrating at this point that ‘even Buddhas can get mad’. Fortunately, the two teachers did not break out into a quarrel before the students. However, the disturbance here being rather great, after a short while, the teachers of the Humanities Office all emerged, coming over.

The Form Teacher of Class 7 stood at the front of Class 10, while Class 10’s Form Teacher was instead standing at the doorway, the scent of gunpowder pervading the air.

“What’s the situation?” The teachers inquired amongst themselves, discussing the matter.

Amidst the ruckus, Xu Tingsheng stood up.

“Mrs Zhang,” Xu Tingsheng called in a clear voice.

All the gazes were drawn over by him, the area immediately falling silent.

Smiling, Xu Tingsheng said calmly, “Mrs Zhang, your earlier words...I think that I am the most suspicious one? I’ve thought about it, getting the various teachers to specifically make a set of examination papers to test me again would really be pretty troublesome. How about this; can the teachers serve as witnesses for me as I go to Class 7 and interact on study methods with the Class 7 students?”

Xu Tingsheng had said ‘interact’, but in everyone’s ears, especially in those of the teachers, this was him wanting to go to Class 7 to ‘conduct a lesson’, not shrinking back from a battle of tongues with a crowd of scholars in order to prove his own innocence.

Xu Tingsheng did not dare to wait for anyone to interrupt him. He had already long since set the subject for ‘interaction’. It was history, for other than history, what else could it be?

“I scored the highest in Combined Humanities this time, so I’ll interact on history with the Class 7 students. It just happens that Vice Chairman Zhang is here, and the other teachers can help to serve as witnesses as well.”

Xu Tingsheng had maintained a smiling face whilst saying all this, his tone calm. However, to the ears of all, this was a provocation, a blatant provocation.

Therefore, whether it was Zhang Xiuyun or Vice Chairman Zhang, neither of them was able to refuse it.

The venue for this ‘interaction’ was finally decided to be one of the big media classrooms. While Xu Tingsheng had called for the Class 7 students, the Class 10 students of his ‘hometown’, not being able to rest at ease, had insisted on going along, and many teachers had arrived to spectate as well. With that, Class 7’s classroom was completely unable to fit all of them.

The media classroom was generally only used by teachers for large scale lessons or by external specialists for lectures. Vice Chairman Zhang had initially thought that this seemed to be giving Xu Tingsheng too much face, but had then thought that him getting laid bare before so many people would also not be a bad thing. That way, even if the vice-principal were to feel something on the matter afterwards, there was no way he would be able to blame him. Therefore, he had agreed for its use.

Another reason was that he could already no longer obstruct this matter. Be it the unconvinced students of Class 7 or the furious students of Class 10, an end had to be put to this matter.

In the end, the students of the two classes domineeringly entered the media classroom together, followed by many students of other classes, some even being from the lower grades. This was because classes had already ended, and with the news having spread, who would not want to come to see the commotion?

When finally no further people could be squeezed within the media classroom and its doors had to be closed, Xu Tingsheng saw Wu Yuewei standing at the back, as well as that Vice-Principal Lou who was in charge of the student affairs office. With a face full of attentiveness, Vice Chairman Zhang was offering him a seat.

Seated at a corner, Old Zhou shot Xu Tingsheng, about to ascend the podium, an encouraging look. The scale of the occasion was really too great, such that most young teachers would inevitably feel nervous, yet alone Xu Tingsheng who was still a student. Old Zhou was actually rather worried about him.

Xu Tingsheng returned Old Zhou a peaceful smile, striding before the podium.

With that very first step, Xu Tingsheng became dazed, staring blankly ahead where he was. That feeling was very mysterious, as images of Xu Tingsheng’s past and current lives seemed to flicker intermittently before his eyes, countless scenes momentarily appearing before him.

In his previous life, he had stood at the podium countless times. To the current him, this small little space seemed familiar yet foreign, painful yet emotional.

4 years-Xu Tingsheng had been a teacher in his previous life for 4 years. While he had not made it to a leadership position or earned much, those had still been his stablest, happiest and most satisfying days of his life.

Yesterday, once more.

For just that single moment, Xu Tingsheng even dazedly felt as though all that he had experienced earlier had just been a dream. Resigning was part of that dream, Xiang Ning was part of that dream, failure was part of that dream, pain was part of that dream, rebirth was part of that dream...having awoken in the morning, he had returned to reality, coming to work, conducting a lesson.

Laughter erupted from the audience, pulling Xu Tingsheng back to reality.

“Could he have been scared silly?” Someone muttered, expressing a thought that many people actually had.

Xu Tingsheng smiled apologetically. Something like this really couldn’t scare him at all. His four years of teaching experience aside, in his previous life, Xu Tingsheng had once been the youngest teacher in history representing Jiannan City in participating in the Provincial Teaching Evaluation. Even in a great hall of over a thousand people, against teachers and specialists from all over the entire province, he had never been nervous.

That lesson which had earned Xu Tingsheng the first prize in the entire province was <Diplomacy of New China>. Having conducted this lesson several tens of times at various different places at differing times, it would be hard for him to forget it even if he wanted.

This was also the content that he had prepared for today. Since he was already playing with such high stakes, he might as well make it a little more vicious. To Xu Tingsheng, a problem which could be solved in a single lesson had never been a problem.

“Xu Tingsheng, which country’s leaders attended the Potsdam Conference? Which countries were it that released the Potsdam Declaration?”

Xu Tingsheng had just wanted to speak when a Class 7 student down below asked a question. This was a girl whom he did not recognise. Perhaps she held no ill intentions, just being unhappy, unhappy that as a student, Xu Tingsheng actually even arrogantly intended to ‘give them a lesson’, even though his original word had been ‘interaction’.

Therefore, she was actually being very crafty in asking this question.

Xu Tingsheng smiled, answering, “The countries which attended the Potsdam Conference were Russia, the US and Britain. Of these, Russia’s leader was Stalin. For the American side, it has to be noted that President Roosevelt, having participated in several important conferences on behalf of the US previously, had already died of sickness. The one who represented the US was their new President, President Truman. If questions on this really come out in the exams, everyone should remember to be careful of such traps, yes? Just like how this beautiful student here tried to set one for me just now.”

Laughter erupted beneath the stage, some people pulling out their notebooks and beginning to take notes.

When the laughter had ceased, Xu Tingsheng continued, “The British side is rather more complicated. At first, their representative was still Churchill, whom everyone is familiar with, that adorable fatty who was the earliest to take a photograph with the scissors hand pose. However, amidst the Conference, a new election was held in Britain, and Churchill was voted out of office. Therefore, you have to take note that there was a newly elected Attlee of Britain who participated in the Potsdam Conference as well.”

This was an additional point of knowledge which had not been touched on in the books, something that was virtually impossible to come out in the examinations. However, it was precisely because of this that it was even more shocking. If Xu Tingsheng had just touched on the main points that had been written in the books, many of Class 7 would also already have grasped that relevant information. With him instead revealing external knowledge, suppressing them with such, the results were much more prominent.

While saying ‘scissors hand’, Xu Tingsheng had also woodenly flashed this pose, a round of laughter thus erupting beneath the stage. However, when he had spoken of Attlee, everyone fell silent. Computers were still not so widespread in this time and age, resulting in the scope of the students’ knowledge being comparatively narrow. Therefore, virtually no one knew of this point.

Xu Tingsheng looked at the few Libei Senior High history teachers present, currently discussing on this in a low tone. Amongst them, many must have failed to notice this point.

“Finally, the most important point that this student asked about, I feel, that you should attempt to remember rather than understand, is that while the nations that participated in the Potsdam Conference were Russia, the US and Britain, the <Potsdam Declaration> was released jointly by China, the US and Britain. The reason for this...I already said that there is no need to understand this, heh.”

This time, no loud laughter remained. Even if there was laughter beneath the stage, it was also repressed with lowered heads. Comparatively speaking, the sounds of the tips on pens on paper were now louder, with many people in the process of taking notes.

Xu Tingsheng paused for a while, waiting till all those lowered heads were raised once more before he continued, “This is the response to your question. Is this beautiful student satisfied?”

Under the gazes of Xu Tingsheng and everyone else here, the female student of Class 7 who had posed the question lowered her head, her face reddened, “Yes, thank you.”

Xu Tingsheng’s gaze swept the entire area, “Are there any more questions from the floor?”

Following this, Xu Tingsheng continuously answered seven to eight more questions, most of them being real inquiries. Of course, there were also some which were intentionally trying to make things difficult for him, such as a few obscure dates and whatnot. Xu Tingsheng answered them all.

Amidst such proceedings, the questions posed by the Class 7 students became more and more tricky, appearing like they just had to make Xu Tingsheng lose face.

“I would like to ask Student Xu. When the Chinese Cruiser Zhiyuan was sunk in the Naval Battle of the Yellow Sea, how many soldiers died for their country?” A pleasant-sounding voice resounded.

Looking over, Xu Tingsheng saw that it was the female student who had been first in the entire year the most times in the Humanities stream. He remembered her name being Ye Yingjing, not because of her outstanding results, but because she was beautiful.

Study queens were common, but beautiful study queens were rare.

This question of Ye Yingjing’s was actually already approaching the point of being nonsensical. However tricky the previous questions of the Class 7 students had been, they had still not reached the point of being so outrageously ridiculous. However, this question of hers clearly had the look of her openly making trouble.

Some students of Class 10 were rather enraged by this as they made heated criticisms in lowered voices. However, Xu Tingsheng shot Ye Yingjing a look of gratitude. If it was said that those earlier questions were tricky but still in earnest, and such questions with true evidence and logic were making things difficult, this nonsensical question of hers was actually helping him to resolve his predicament, because no one would care about whether Xu Tingsheng answered correctly or wrongly. On the contrary, what they would pay attention to was Ye Yingjing’s nonsensicality.

After this question had been asked, it was certain that no one would dare to pose tricky questions any longer, because that could be linked together as continuously stirring up trouble for no good reason, easily leading to the condemnation of all.

“This little girl rather has a sense of justice.”

Xu Tingsheng complimented her inwardly as he smiled, “I must thank Ye Yingjing for helping me to resolve my predicament. Still, I can indeed answer this question. The number of soldiers who died for their country along with the Chinese Cruiser Zhiyuan in the Naval Battle of the Yellow Sea was 246.”

Xu Tingsheng instead came and resolved Ye Yingjing’s predicament as he gave an answer to her question, an answer which was straightforward, decisive, and filled with tremendous confidence.

No one thought of doubting it. Everyone, from the students to the teachers, was stunned. He actually knew even this? But what amount of perused reading materials and level of memorisation abilities did that entail?

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