Teachers are always looking for clever ways to engage their students on a deeper level. But sometimes, students take the material a lot deeper than teachers ever intended! Such was the case when teacher Bret Turner posted this riddle on the board of his classroom:
“I am the beginning of everything, the end of everywhere. I’m the beginning of eternity, the end of time and space.”
Wow. That’s a tough one. Especially for first-graders. What ever happened to “Who’s buried in Grant’s tomb”?! But questions of age-appropriateness aside, let’s all think about what the answer might be. Come up with anything? When you’re ready, scroll on down to see what Turner’s students came up with.
The first guess from one of my 1st graders was “death” and such an awed, somber, reflective hush fell over the class that I didn’t want to tell them that actually the answer is the letter e, which just seemed so banal in the moment pic.twitter.com/7sYFxHNcZk
— Bret Turner (@bretjturner) January 2, 2018
LOL! Yep. The answer was merely the letter “e,” but as you can see from Turner’s tweet, one of his kiddos took it in a much deeper (and darker) direction. Nor was this particular first-grader alone in his existentialism. Other students in the class had similarly deep reactions:
Before I finally revealed the "correct" answer to the riddle, to a largely unimpressed audience, I fielded other guesses that continued along a similarly existential vein. There was "NOT everything," "all stuff," "the end," and maybe my favorite, "nothingthing."
— Bret Turner (@bretjturner) January 3, 2018
Wow. Who knew 6-year-olds were so in touch with the eternal angst of the universe?
As for his tweet thread going viral (it has been re-tweeted over 85,000 times), Turner had this to say:
I’m considering telling the kids tomorrow that a tweet about them went viral, and given their facility with the internets, I expect their response will be “sure but did it go SUPERviral” and “just how many retweets are we talking about here” and “can I go to the bathroom”
— Bret Turner (@bretjturner) January 4, 2018
Hey, you gotta appreciate how well he knows his students. It takes a lot to impress a classroom of mini-Nietzsches.
Meanwhile, the viral word riddle has given rise to lots of puns from Twitterer users:
Should be giving the kid an "E" for effort…
— Avi Greenberger (@iamavig) January 3, 2018
"E" is also for existentialism
— Bobbie Bees (@BobbieBees) January 3, 2018
Also for ennui
— Lonely Catholicism (@bythos) January 3, 2018
"E" for excellence pic.twitter.com/vmzrjOo340
— al (@agizzlefizzle12) January 4, 2018
No word on whether Turner has any future riddles planned for his students, but if you enjoyed his brainteaser, try some of these:
You can see me in water, but I never get wet. What am I?
The poor have it.
The rich need it.
If you eat it, you’ll die.
What am I?
I fly without wings. I cry without eyes. What am I?