The Upside Down Cake
My name is Mark. I went to a small village school when I was a boy of your age. There were only 50 children in the whole school. Classes were small. We had the infants’ class, the middle-class and the top-class.
My teacher was called Miss Tweedy. She was very kind. She noticed that every child was different. Some were shy and quiet and some were loud and confident and there were others in between. Miss Tweedy used to joke about herself and make us laugh when she made a mistake. Sometimes I thought she made mistakes on purpose just to make us feel better about ourselves when we messed something up.
One day she came to school with an upside-down cake to share with the class who were the ‘winners of the month’. Every month one class was the winner. I did notice that we seemed to take it in turns to be the winner. It was called the ‘good behaviour prize’, and every month a different class won it, and shared out the cake between them. Sometimes it was chocolate cake and sometimes lemon cake. I used to like the cherry cake so if our class won I would always ask if we could have cherry cake for our prize.
‘Now let’s see, Mark, we could have a cherry cake, but only if everyone agrees. We could have some suggestions first and then count how many hands go up for each cake.’
We always voted like that and sometimes I was lucky, but not always. I didn’t mind because I like chocolate cake and lemon cake too.
I was telling you about the upside-down cake wasn’t I? Well, my class won the best behaviour prize, but we forgot to vote for what kind of cake to have. Miss Tweedy just got on and made one anyway.
She asked the class if they had ever heard of upside-down cake. One of the girls put her hand up and said her grandma made it sometimes.
‘Ah,’ said Miss Tweedy, ‘then I must tell you about my silly mistake. I thought I might get away without letting you know about it, but as Sarah knows what upside-down cake should be like, I can’t pretend can I?’
Miss Tweedy took the lid off the tin and showed us the cake.
I jumped up and down and clapped my hands. Cherries were gathered at the top of the cake, so many that there was hardly any yellow cake to be seen! Everyone giggled and shouted, they all liked cherry cake too.
‘Can you guess what happened?’ asked Miss Tweedy looking embarrassed, hanging her head and sucking her finger; I thought she was play acting but Sarah went up to Miss Tweedy and patted her arm.
‘It’s all right Miss Tweedy,’ she said,’ don’t worry, we all make mistakes. I’m sure we will want to eat it even if all the cherries sank to the bottom and you turned it upside down.’
‘Yes that’s right Miss,’ we all chimed in, ‘don’t worry Miss, we’ll eat it!’
Delighted, we all sat round and had a piece of upside-down cherry cake. I turned mine the right way up to make sure it tasted as good as it usually did.
Later on that day Timmy, one of the youngest in the class was writing some of his letters upside down. He was a shy, quiet boy and when Miss Tweedy showed him how to change them round he hung his head and sucked his finger and tears started to fall on his work.
‘Never mind Timmy, your letter is a bit like my upside-down cake isn’t it? It’s the right shape, it’s just upside down. All we have to do is turn it over, look. We all make mistakes sometimes. It’s how we learn isn’t it? We do it wrong until we learn to do it right!’
Timmy smiled and we all smiled, thinking about the taste of the delicious cherry cake and of how kind Miss Tweedy was.
Questions Answers in blue
- Does this story remind you of anything in your life?
- What did Mark think of his teacher, Miss Tweedy? He thought she was very kind
- Why did one class get a cake each month? They got it for behaving well – the best behaviour prize
- What sort of cake did Mark like best? Mark liked Cherry cake best
- Why did Miss Tweedy turn her cake upside down? The cherries all sank to the bottom of the cake, so it looked prettier upside down.
- How did Miss Tweedy show that she was upset about her cherry cake? She hung her head and put her finger in her mouth.
- What did Sarah do to stop MissTweedy feeling upset? She patted her arm and told her not to worry…
- When little Timmy wrote his letters upside down, how did he feel about it? He was upset as he had made a mistake.
- What did Miss Tweedy say to make him feel better? She told him that we learn by making mistakes, and it’s OK to make mistakes.