the sponge, the funnel, the strainer, and the sieve

In the backyard of a very normal high school, four friends once gathered during their lunch break.
Actually, they weren’t friends so much, but just classmates.
Actually, they weren’t on a lunch break but waiting for their final exam results.
Or for the dentist.
I’m not sure.
Either way – you could be as anxious when you wait for final exam results, as when you’re waiting for the dentist.

So, they were there, the four of them, talking and waiting.
These were the Sponge, the Funnel, the Strainer, and the Sieve.

It was weird, not because they quickly became friends during that break in the backyard of their very normal high school, and not because they were kitchen utensils.
But because of the way they acquired knowledge.
Even the way they conversed reflected their learning capability.
Here’s an example.

“In a right triangle, the square of the hypotenuse equals the sum of the squares of the other two sides. In a right triangle one angle equals 90 degrees. The hypotenuse is on the opposite side of the right triangle”, the Sponge said, sounding very much like an old audio recording.

The Funnel frowned and said, “I knew that but now that the math exam is over, who cares – I can’t be bothered to remember it. In fact, ah, ah, there you go. It’s gone. Don’t remember a thing. Nada. Zilch. Diddly squat”.

The Strainer jumped immediately and suggested, “guys, it’s so simple. Sponge  (not Bob, though) is making it too complicated, and too ‘professor vonPlus’. He’s totally repeating the last maths lesson. Just remember this,

it’s so simple!” repeated the Strainer.

Then the Sieve had to say something, of course. He took out a sheet of paper and a pen. While drawing a little right-angled triangle he said, “That buddy Pythagoras and his equation helped me build my own wooden cabin last month. I’m planning to turn it into a lab of some sort and do experiments. I only need to finish up my roof, but it seems like that’ll be a cheese thing to do, what with the theorem. Look guys, once you know A and B, it’s very easy to find C and my roof is done! It’s the old 3, 4, 5 trick that I’m applying more or less. But Professor vonPlus opened my eyes with this theorem – since I want to be precise”. 

It was all too confusing for the Sponge, the Funnel, and the Strainer.
They didn’t know what their new friend was talking about.
Most of all, they didn’t know why on earth would they need to build a roof.
Of course, that’s what the Strainer got out of the whole conversation.
The Funnel didn’t remember a thing because he didn’t have to memorise anything, because there was no exam to go to for that conversation.
While the Sponge – he could repeat anything. He was one heck of a recorder!

According to the ancient texts of the Mishnah – which, in its simplest form of explanation, refers to the compilation of orally repeated ancient laws, Jewish traditions – there are four types of pupils, so to speak.

It is the Sieve, as in the little anecdote above, that has the best form of memory, because, he not only remembers what has been said, but he knows what it means and how to apply it meaningfully.

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