The last two weeks I watched Great Expectations on Masterpiece Theater. It was a wonderful production, and I enjoyed it immensely. I remembered the names of the characters, but that was about all. That bothers me somewhat as we must have spent at least six weeks reading and studying that book in the eighth grade. Why don't I remember that Miss Havisham was not in her right mind, or even that Abel Magwitch had some redeeming qualities.
After some thought I decided the following excuses are the reason I remember nothing of the plot.
1. There were fifty-five eighth graders crammed on a small stage. The two seventh grades were on the gym floor separated from us by the stage curtain. Eventually, our class was divided into two sections. I attended the morning session. I can't remember if we read Great Expectations before or after the split. (I had a wonderful year being totally unsupervised during the afternoons.)
2. Our class before and after the split behaved badly. The science teacher, Mr. Devol, and the social studies teacher, Mr. Hall, could keep order. We drove the English teacher, Miss Duffey, out of her mind. She finally quit just before school got out. I would venture to say she never taught again, and is still telling stories about our class.
3. She was not really a very effective teacher. She told us things like she dropped our test papers down a staircase. The ones at the top got A's and the ones at the bottom did not pass. Once a necklace she wore broke during class. The wooden barrels on it bounced and clattered on the floor. When she tried to pick up the pieces, there were none. No one would admit to having one in their pocket. Yes, I even remember Herbert Pocket's name from the story.
I look forward to the next Masterpiece production, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. I never read that one, so it will be completely new to me.