"I am not a telepath, I cannot read minds, so I do not know. But everyone's mind works differently and no one solves every riddle; I have had Riddle Master's fail at Easy-rank ones."
"So it's just random?"
Not quite verbatim, but close enough, and I had similar conversations with a few others in which I said that not solving the Grandmaster was "not indicative of skill because so many Masters never solve it." The point being that the kids always walk away feeling better. Still wishing and wanting to solve it, yes, but no longer feeling they are less smart. Truly, one of the most important lessons in Riddle-Teaching is that no one solves every riddle; that and never giving up. For there is no sight like the triumphant, incredulous joy of those who spend months trying to solve it and had given up hope finally succeeding. Boys and girls alike, I have seen them leap in the air and shout with ecstasy. One girl, Maeve, said "riddles are hard. They drive me crazy, but you feel so accomplished when you solve one." And that, my fair readers, is the point of teaching Riddle Mastery. It teaches the kids to use their brains in new ways with no strings attached and is fun, with a built-in structure and narrative that lets them be the heroes of their own story. Narrative? Aye. Amazing how even friendly competition with others kids who they have never met and likely never will meet can drive children to improve. For I regularly mention the accomplishments of my past students, telling their stories – triumphs, struggles, and failures all. Framed in such a way that makes them, not me, the main protagonists. I am the Riddle-Teacher, the trainer who guides the way and lays the path, but the students are the ones who walk it. As goes an ancient Chinese proverb, "teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself." In short, I make my past students the legends instead of myself, emphasizing that I am not all-knowing. When I have not tested a riddle enough to know its rank I admit it, and make no bones about admitting to be wrong when they point out a the rare flaw in one of my riddles. "I must follow my own rules" I always say, and the kids come to respect that and my role as a Riddle-Teacher, recognizing that though I made the system I do not use it to suit my personal desires, because everything is built up from the accomplishments not of me but of past students and, now, themselves. The latest students see themselves as the latest chapter in 10+ history, their own accomplishments to be told to future students. One girl, Maddie, made sure I never forgot that she was the first ever to solve the Adeptmaster, and Maeve once asked "What do I need to do be the greatest Riddle Master you ever trained?" Either that or "How do I become the greatest Riddle Master you ever trained?" I forget the exact wording, but I told and she strode away with two Maker friends, Cassidy and Inara, determined to do so. The narrative matters, for it adds history and makes the students rightly feel like they are part of something bigger. Indeed, Cassidy, Inara, and Maeve spent hours worth of free periods making riddles which they then brought to me so I could record, judge, and use them, all with the goal of becoming Master Riddle-Makers – and they asked quite seriously what the requirements were for the title. Serious fun is riddling. "Riddles are hard. They drive me crazy, but you feel so accomplished when you solve one."
"No, not random. But it does require thinking in a very specific way to unlock the secret, and once you do the answer comes. But, at the end of the day, the Grandmaster is just one riddle out of hundreds and there is no shame in not solving it. Some of the greatest Riddle Masters I ever trained never solved it. Giselle, one of my After-school students, was a Master Solver and Maker who was better than me at Wordplay. Ren was a skilled solver and Master Maker who could make rhyming Logic riddles at will and was one of the Makers of the Eldermaster. He never solved it. The fact is, most do not, and it does not make you bad at riddles. Look I me. I am terrible at solving."
| How might a ferryman leave his boat, yet leave the ferry operating = ?|
Here is a hint, provided by Neil Gaiman:
only tell the ferryman the answer from a safe distance.
|Cold feet and two feet of snow|
|Opening of Aldhelm's riddles in the |
late tenth- or early eleventh-century
manuscript London, British Library,
Royal MA 12 c xxiii, folio 84r
The riddle was a major, prestigious literary form
in early medieval England, and riddles were
written both in Latin and Old English verse.