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Chapter 3
Joe had curly hair. But he didn't know how much hair he had. He couldn't count that high. In fact, he couldn't count at all.

When all of the other children went to recess, Mrs. Jewls told Joe to wait inside. "Joe," she said. "How much hair do you have?"

Joe shrugged his shoulders. "A lot," he answered.

"But how much, Joe?" asked Mrs. Jewls.

"Enough to cover my head," Joe answered.

"Joe, you are going to have to learn how to count," said Mrs. Jewls.

"But, Mrs. Jewls, I already know how to count," said Joe. "Let me go to recess."
"First count to ten," said Mrs. Jewls.

Joe counted to ten: "six, eight, twelve, one, five, two, seven, eleven, three, ten."

"No, Joe, that is wrong," said Mrs. Jewls.

"No, it isn't," said Joe. "I counted until I got to ten."

"But you were wrong," said Mrs. Jewls. "I'll prove it to you." She put five pencils on his desk. "How many pencils do we have here, Joe?"

Joe counted the pencils. "Four, six, one, nine, five. There are five pencils, Mrs. Jewls."

"That's wrong," said Mrs. Jewls.

"How many pencils are there?" Joe asked.

"Five," said Mrs. Jewls.

"That's what I said," said Joe. "May I go to recess now?"

"No," said Mrs. Jewls. "You got the right answer, but you counted the wrong way. You were just lucky." She set eight potatoes on his desk. "How many potatoes, Joe?"

Joe counted the potatoes. "Seven, five, three, one, two, four, six, eight. There are eight potatoes, Mrs. Jewls."

"No, there are eight," said Mrs. Jewls.

"But that's what I said," said Joe. "May I go to recess now?"

"No, you got the right answer, but you counted the wrong way again." She put three books on his desk. "Count the books, Joe."

Joe counted the books. "A thousand, a million, three. Three, Mrs. Jewls."
"Correct," said Mrs. Jewls.

"May I go to recess now?" Joe asked.

"No," said Mrs. Jewls.

"May I have a potato?" asked Joe.

"No. Listen to me. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten," said Mrs. Jewls. "Now you say it."

"One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten," said Joe.

"Very good!" said Mrs. Jewls. She put six erasers on his desk. "Now count the erasers, Joe, just the way I showed you."

Joe counted the erasers. "One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. There are ten, Mrs. Jewls."

"No," said Mrs. Jewls.

"Didn't I count right?" asked Joe.

"Yes, you counted right, but you got the wrong answer," said Mrs. Jewls.

"This doesn't make any sense," said Joe. "When I count the wrong way I get the right answer, and when I count right I get the wrong answer."

Mrs. Jewls hit her head against the wall five times. "How many times did I hit my head against the wall?" she asked.

"One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. You hit your head against the wall ten times," said Joe.

"No," said Mrs. Jewls.

"Four, six, one, nine, five. You hit your head five times," said Joe.

Mrs. Jewls shook her head no and said, "Yes, that is right."
The bell rang, and all the other children came back from recess. The fresh air had made them very excited, and they were laughing and shouting.

"Oh, darn," said Joe. "Now I missed recess."

"Hey, Joe, where were you?" asked John. "You missed a great game of kickball."

"I kicked a home run," said Todd.

"What was wrong with you, Joe?" asked Joy.

"Nothing," said Joe. "Mrs. Jewls was just trying to teach me how to count."

Joy laughed. "You mean you don't know how to count!"

"Counting is easy," said Maurecia.

"Now, now," said Mrs. Jewls. "What's easy for you may not be easy for Joe, and what's easy for Joe may not be easy for you."

"Nothing's easy for Joe," said Maurecia. "He's stupid."

"I can beat you up," said Joe.

"Try it," said Maurecia.

"That will be enough of that," said Mrs. Jewls. She wrote Maurecia's name on the blackboard under the word DISCIPLINE.

Joe put his head on his desk between the eight potatoes and the six erasers.

"Don't feel bad, Joe," said Mrs. Jewls.

"I just don't get it," said Joe. "I'll never learn how to count."

"Sure you will, Joe," said Mrs. Jewls. "One day itwill just come to you.

You'll wake up one morning and suddenly be able to count."
Joe asked, "If all I have to do is wake up, what am I going to school for?"

"School just speeds things up," said Mrs. Jewls. "Without school it might take another seventy years before you wake up and are able to count."

"By that time I may have no hair left on top of my head to count," said Joe.

"Exactly," said Mrs. Jewls. "That is why you go to school."

When Joe woke up the next day, he knew how to count. He had fifty-five thousand and six hairs on his head. They were all curly.


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