Latin Name for Lead

by Sahadev Komaragiri

examtimeIt was during the quarterly examinations. Science teacher Mr. Murthy was going on his routine rounds. Students were busy writing answers to the questions on their test. One 8th class student, Santosh, got up and stopped Mr. Murthy.

Santosh asked “Sir, could you please take a look at this question?”

Mr. Murthy looked at the paper and read out the question, “What is the Latin name of element Lead?” The question was a very simple one.

Santosh did not seem to be satisfied, “I know the question sir”. “Then what do you want to know?” the teacher asked.

“Sir do you know the Latin name of lead?” continued Santosh. Mr. Murthy understood the problem. Santosh did not know the answer; he was looking for help from the teacher!

This is a short story written for and about children under the short stories section of my blog.. I use these stories in my English Proficiency classes. The words in italics are the words that add to the child’s vocabulary. The questions at the end help them think deeper about the value embedded in the story. I encourage children to perform skits that are based on these stories.

Mr. Murthy is a very broadminded person. He has years of experience in teaching. He has dealt with hundreds of students in the past. “I cannot tell you the answer. It is your test” responded Mr. Murthy in a very straightforward manner.

Santosh tried a trick, “Is it Aurum sir?” Mr. Murthy is experienced enough to understand such tricks. He simply reminded Santosh that he cannot tell the answer. Santosh tried a few more tricks. Mr. Murthy finally warned the boy, “Santosh, if you don’t get back to your test, I have to report you to the headmaster”.  The boy sat down quietly.

During the lunch time, Mr. Murthy visited Santosh and asked “Did you find out the Latin name of lead?” Santosh responded with a smile “Yes sir, the answer is Plumbum.” Mr. Murthy got curious “How did you know the answer?”, “I found out the answer after the exam got over. It was in the chapter on periodic table” responded Santosh. “But sir,” he continued “I would have gotten an extra mark if you helped me with the answer.” Mr. Murthy was amused by the innocence of the child. He patted the boy on his shoulder and said “If I told you the answer then you would have learnt how to cheat. You should learn to depend on yourself. Teachers can assist in learning but not in cheating. Be good, be nice, and be happy”.

Santosh was left to himself to think and introspect.


  1. What was Santosh’s problem with the question paper?
  2. How did Mr. Murthy respond?
  3. Did Santosh find out the right answer? When and How?
  4. What did Mr. Murthy say about cheating and learning?
  5. What would you do if you were in Mr. Murthy’s place?

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Manohar Rao gade March 3, 2017 at 8:12 am

A good educative motivation, especially for teachers that ” A teacher must make the students to solve their problems by their own, then only they never forget the answer as well as they come to know how to solve a question themselves alone without any one’s help. “Self preparation (or) Self help”. Five questions in the Exercise are also like “Precis writing / Expansion of story writing” which we have practiced in our School days.


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