Friday, July 11, 2014

Just a Word

Ah, Oxford!

I’m pretty sure that it’s is where geeky people go when they die (well, at least that’s my plan).

I mean, what’s not heavenly about a collection of 38 colleges in a beautiful setting?

And then, of course, it includes the mega-nerd bonus…

Yep, that’s Logic Lane.

Anyway, for over a century All Souls (ahem, geeky souls… see above) College of Oxford had a very special test to help them choose which student would receive a 7-year fellowship.

It was an exam created to bring the most brilliant minds to their metaphorical knees 

The one-word essay.

Students seated for this task would have an envelope placed into their trembling hands. Within that envelope (gulp!) was a single white card. And on that card (gasp!) was just one word.

The students would then be asked to write coherently, creatively, and brilliantly about that word for three solid hours.

Each year, THE WORD was a closely guarded secret that everyone wanted to know. In fact, THE WORD held such allure that even the townsfolk couldn't wait to find out. 

Crowds would gather outside the exam hall just so they could be the first ones to roll THE WORD off their tongues. Americans, think Black Friday and a Talking Elmo special  yeah, it was THAT big.

Alas, that is all part of the past now. It was a sad day in 2010 when All Souls College discontinued the practice. Apparently they ran out of words

These days, the students write essays about the classics, politics, and philosophy. As for the townsfolk  they remain in front of their tellies, never missing the latest advert for Talking Elmo.

But to think, for over a century that essay actually determined the future of a whole lot of… well… souls.

Never underestimate the power…

of just one word.

PROMPT: Take your own All Souls College exam to test your mettle today. Here are a few of the famous last words used over the years: POSSESSIONS, MERCY, STYLE, NOVELTY, WATER, MIRACLES. Pick one and go!