The Perfect Student- the Professor's musings on Gilligan
If I were to tell you that, in my educated opinion, Gilligan is the perfect student, you'd laugh at me. If you are a professional teacher as well, you'd probably think I had been out in the sun too long. You'd say to yourself: "Gilligan, a perfect student? Why the poor Professor's gone mad! Gilligan has to be the laziest, slowest, most forgetful person on the face of the planet. It's his fault they're on the island to begin with, and his bumbling ways are what has kept them there!" And, for the most part, you'd be right.
Gilligan never did well in school. He had several counts against him. He was the kind of kid who:
Never did his homework.
Never stayed after school for help.
Never paid much attention to the lesson.
Didn't understand the lectures.
Didn't read the assignment.
Knew he wasn't any good at school and
All the counts, except for the last one, are probably true. When I first met Gilligan, I wanted to slam my head against the wall. How the Skipper put up with him all those years I really didn't know; Gilligan seemed so incredibly dense at times it took all my willpower not to loose my patience with him.
But then I began to notice a change in Gilligan. Or maybe it was a change in myself, I don't know. I was experimenting with coconut oil, very early on in our isolation, when I felt a pair of eyes staring at me. I looked up from my makeshift laboratory bench in my hut and saw Gilligan just standing there, his eyes wide as saucers.
"What are you making, Professor?" he asked.
At the time, I was still figuring out how to help us all survive, and I replied, "I'm trying to find a way to fire-proof these coconuts so that we can have lanterns at night."
Gilligan's eyes went even wider with surprise. "You can do that?" he asked incredulously.
I blinked. "Gilligan," I said, a little indignantly, "I'm a professor. I can do all kinds of things! In fact, what I'm working on now should be relatively simple."
Gilligan looked down at his white shoes in embarrassment. "Sorry to bug you, Professor," he said after a moment. "But I didn't have much school and... well... I think it's swell you can make things for us and all."
I looked at the shy boy, standing there, staring at the ground, and I felt ashamed of myself. "Would you like to see what I am going to do?" I asked.
Gilligan's smile lit up the room brighter than any lantern I ever made did. "Sure, I'd love to, Professor!"
From then on, every time I had an experiment going on, Gilligan always found time to stop by and watch. Many times, he "helped" me with what I was doing (in all honesty, he was more of a hindrance than a help). But the one thing that struck me as odd was how much Gilligan really did care about learning. In fact, he loved learning! Though he couldn't ever remember much from lesson to lesson, the love for learning was written in every action he did to help my project succeed; from gathering an excessive amount of coconuts to helping me run a long bamboo pipeline up a mountain.
Finally, it occurred to me one day that Gilligan was the perfect student. Though he retained little of what I taught him, he was always willing to learn it again. Every day, the world was new to him, and so were the things I taught. He was never afraid to ask "stupid" questions like regular students are, and when he didn't understand what I was telling him, he told me. In turn for my teaching, Gilligan gave me a special kind of peace. You see, I missed teaching immensely. But with Gilligan on the island, I had someone to teach, and that is what keeps me sane these long years of waiting to be rescued; the knowledge that Gilligan is truly the world's perfect student.