13

I read this in the mid-nineties in what seemed to be new hardback book, but some of the other anthology stories seemed 'of the sixties'.

The narrator was recounting his experience visiting some alien world and getting told about their education system. Basically the poorer performing students are hanged as an incentive to the others to work harder.

This has resulted, after generations, in having a world of very high educated and quick learners. An example is the narrator needs new spectacles and a typical passing student is called over, utilising normal household items he diagnoses the lens strength required, makes and polishes the glasses and presents them to narrator, all within (I think) eight minutes.

Narrator witnesses a few more examples like this, including the ability to create a ftl spacecraft out of kitchen white goods within thirty minutes, then he returns to Earth.

On Earth he discusses the educational system with an enquiry board and the consensus is there is nothing to fear from the aliens, a typical Earth student is capable of building such an ftl spacecraft in less than twenty minutes

marked as duplicate by Organic Marble story-identification Apr 9 at 15:46

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • 2
    "slow" students being killed sounded funnier in my head! – Möoz Apr 9 at 3:20
  • 1
    Your version sounds much funnier than the actual ending. – Adamant Apr 9 at 5:00
  • Yeah, old memories create better stories IMO – DannyMcG Apr 9 at 8:38
  • 1
    It's not the slow children who are hanged, it's the problem children. But I suppose your way would work too! – Invisible Trihedron May 4 at 3:25
18

"The Primary Education of the Camiroi" by R. A. Lafferty.

Also the answer to Trying to find a short story (maybe two in the same collection) about Alien education versus Earth

If a child has not learned to accept discipline by the third or fourth grade, he is hanged.

..................

It was rather revealing to us that the little boy was able to test Miss Munch's eyes, grind lenses, make frames, and have her fixed up within three minutes.

The ending is not as optimistic as you recall.

Not one Earth child in five could build a faster-than-light vehicle and travel it beyond our galaxy between now and midnight.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.