Little House on the Prairie (1974–1983): Season 1, Episode 9 - School Mom - full transcript

Caroline's special efforts to teach a shy, older boy to read while she is substitute-teaching for an injured Miss Beadle are ruined when mean-spirited Mrs. Oleson humiliates him in front of the class and he vows never to return to school.

Children: Bye, miss beadle!

Nellie: Miss beadle.

Yes, Nellie.

Mama says to come
to tea tomorrow.

She has a special
new kind of tea.

Why, thank you,

You tell your mother
I'll try.

Bye, miss beadle.

Good-bye, Nellie.

We haven't even
had a turn yet.

Laura: Well,
I'm still on.

Miss beadle: Larry,
stop chasing them!



You want me
to teach the children?

Mr. Hanson: Ja. We
want you very much.

Mr. Oleson:
We made a list.

Dr. Baker: We started a list, Mrs.

but you're our first
and our only choice.

Mr. Hanson: Because you are the best.
That is the reason, Mrs. Ingalls.

You are
the best qualified.

I'm sure
I'm very flattered.

Mrs. Oleson: You have had
experience teaching, haven't you?

Yes, Mrs. Oleson.
I've taught school.

That was a long time ago.
I'm rusty.

I'm sure there
must be new methods.

Dr. Baker: Not that rusty, Mrs.

I've got a strong hunch you've been
keeping your hand in here at home,

teaching your own kids.

We know this is a lot
of extra work for you.

You still have your own family
to take care of and all.

Mrs. Ingalls, our
children really need you.

Mr. Oleson: We'll pay you
the same as miss beadle.

A windfall,
I should think.

Mr. Hanson,
it's so important.

I wonder if I could
think it over a little.

Sure. Sure.

You'd want to talk it over
with Charles.

Then we will wait.

Mrs. Oleson: Before
any decision is made,

I would like to have
an assurance.

Mrs. Oleson.

Well, uh, Mrs. Ingalls has
2 children of her own,

and I would like to be assured,
if she takes the position,

that she won't show favoritism
for her own 2 children

over other children.

Mr. Hanson, I've made up my mind.
I'll teach the children.


You will?


Appreciate it.

Thank you,
Mrs. Ingalls.

Dr. Baker: Thank you, Mrs. Ingalls.
Thank you, Ingalls!

You're welcome, doc.

You better get
some sleep, teacher.

You got to get up
early tomorrow.

I have such
a terrible temper.

You certainly do.

It's that Mrs. Oleson.
She can make me so angry.

If she says no, I'll say
yes, no matter what.

Well, it's
not too late.

You can always
change your mind.

After I gave my word?


Oh, no, Charles.
I couldn't do that.

Then what's
the problem?

Well, if I could just be sure that
I'm doing it because they need me

and not just
to spite her.

They need a teacher,
don't they?


You're the best one
for the job, right?



Then go to sleep. I'll
see you in the morning.

My mother wasn't sure if she wanted Mrs.
Ingalls to teach or not.

Why not?

She's not qualified.

What's that mean?

She can't teach.

Mary said she used
to be a teacher.

Well, that
was a long time ago.

Willie: Everything's
different now.

Mother decided
she'd wait and see.

Take your seats.

Good morning, children.

Well, we don't need
to introduce ourselves.

I know who all of you are,

and you all know who I am.

I'm going to be your teacher
for a while,

until miss beadle
is able to return.

What seems to be
the trouble?

Harry, suppose you tell
me what the trouble is.

You ain't
a teacher.

I've been asked
to teach.

Still don't
make you a teacher.

I have taught school...

In the east.

Ah, that was
a long time ago.

It ain't the same now.

I see.

I think you all must have
liked miss beadle very much.

Isn't that true?

Children: Yes.

Well, it's not easy to know
what somebody else can do...

Until you give him or her
a chance.

Tell me, Harry,
what do you do best?

I can bat a ball farther
than most anybody,

most men, even.

Well, all right.
Suppose you show us.

Come on.


That was
really good.

Here. Your turn.

Laura: You
can hit it, ma.

You'll hit it.

Come on, ma.
You can do it.

You hit it, ma!

You hit it better
than anybody!

That was great.

All right.

Let's go back to school.

Uh... you needn't
tell your father about this.

Nellie reading:
"Yes, dear children,

"I wish to teach you
the value of perseverance,

"even when nothing more depends
upon it than the flying of a kite.

"Whenever you fail in your
attempts to do any good thing,

let your motto
be try again."

Miss beadle always gives
me high grades in reading.

She says I'm the best
reader in the whole school.

You did that very well.
Sit down, please.

Now, let's see,
who will be next?

Abel makay.

Abel makay, will you
read for us, please?



You do
have a reader?

Yes, ma'am.

Pick it up and read for us, please.
All right, quiet.



All right, abel.
We're waiting.


Yes, abel.
What is it?

Quiet in here.

Laura: Ma.

He can't read.

Not even one word.

He doesn't
come to school much.

Mary: He ran away
from miss beadle, too.

After that,
she didn't call on him.

We tried
to tell you.

I don't know why everybody's
making such a fuss.

I know I didn't break my ankle.
It's only sprained,

but Dr. Baker
won't listen to me.

Caroline: So I won't
listen to you either.

You're just going to have
to do as the doctor says.

I know you're right.

Well, at least
I'm pleased to hear

the children
are in good hands.

Good hands, indeed.

I've lost one of
your pupils already.

You have?

Abel makay. I didn't
know he was backward,

and I made
the mistake of...

Oh, no. Abel
is not backward.

He isn't?


Well, I haven't had a chance to
say more than a few words to him,

but, well, I thought since
he can't read at his age...

I know.
I thought so, too,

but abel makay is as bright as
any child in that classroom.

Well, then
why can't he read?

Abel hadn't set foot inside a
classroom until a month or so ago.

Then he saw the children...
6, 7 years old...

Starting to read,

and, well, he was humiliated.
He was embarrassed.

And the other children

Yes, they did.

So he ran away.

When he came back,
I let him sit and listen,

and I hoped he would
gain confidence.

And I ran him off

Oh, you didn't know.

Well, I should
have guessed.


More tea?

Mm-hmm. And one of
those cookies, please.

Well, you look fine.

Mmm. The nelsons
took good care of you.

Come on.

Well, how did
the school teaching go?

I failed badly.

That's not so.

She's a good

Seems we have a little
difference of opinion.

You want to
tell me about it?

I lost the pupil
that needed me most.

But, ma, he's
just dumb abel.

What mo you say?

I said...

He was just
dumb abel.

Laura, I'm ashamed of you.

It's just a nickname...
What all the kids call him.

Well, it's a cruel nickname,

and the next one I hear use it,
my child or any other,

is going to get her mouth washed out with
soap, the strongest soap I can find.

You all must be starving.
I better get supper.

Whoa. I've already got supper on.
Everything's cooking.

All I have to do
is set the table.

Why don't you girls run
inside and do that, huh?

Both: Yes, pa.

Bad day, huh?

Practically the first thing
I did, I asked him to read,

and the other children laughed,
and he ran out, didn't come back.

Can't read?

Not at all.

Now, look, you can't
blame yourself for that.

Maybe he is backwards like the kids say.
Maybe he can't learn.

No. He can learn.

He's only been in school a
few days in his whole life.

He's shy and embarrassed.

The little ones
know more than he does.

He's not backward.
He can learn.

And as his teacher, it's my
job to see that he does.

And you will.

You can't do everything
in one day, you know.

Wasn't a total loss.
You hit a home run.


They told you?

Of course they told me. Whack!
Right out of the schoolyard.

You're laughing
at me.


I'm proud of you.


Oh, well,
good morning.

Good morning.

I thought I'd bring the eggs
in on my way to school.

I'm not too early,
am I?

Oh, my goodness, no.
Of course not.

Well, now.


These are so nice.

The price is just going
to have to go up...

4 cents a dozen.

Thank you.

Oh, Nellie and Willie are so pleased
to have you as their teacher.

They say so many
nice things about you.

They just wonder

if there isn't more that
they can do to please you.

As a matter of fact, Nellie
said to me this morning,

"why, I could do so much more
if only I can be her monitor."

And then she could pass out the
tests and collect the papers.

I'm sure
she'd be very good.

Well, let's see. Fine.

There you are.

Plus 4 cents
extra a dozen.

Good. Well,
it's all settled, then.

Oh, I thought
you knew.

Knew what?

The monitors jobs are
kept for the children

who don't like school
and don't want to learn.

It's a way of
getting them interested.

Of course, if your
children feel that way...

Oh, no. No.

Well, for goodness' sakes,
why, Nellie and Willie

are quite bright,
and they do like school.

I'm sure it was...

Well, I didn't know.

Oh, well, of course,
by all means,

you give the monitoring job
to someone who needs it.

All right, then.

I best be getting on.


Good morning.
Good morning.

Good morning.


Mrs. Ingalls.

Thank you, Nellie.

Have you seen
abel makay?

No. Ma.
He didn't come today.

All right.
Go on inside.




I'll be done in about 30, 40 minutes.
We can ride home together.

I sent the girls
on ahead.

I have to go out and see
abel makay's father.

Want me to ride
out there with you?

Well, it's my job.
I better go by myself.

All right. Why don't you go ahead and take
the wagon? I'll meet you at the house.

I may be a little late.
Would you pick up Carrie?

Charles: Sure.




Mr. Makay...

I'm Mrs. Ingalls.

I teach school over
in walnut grove. I...

Wanted to talk to you
about your son.

Uh, he didn't
come in today.

That's his affair.

I don't hold much
for schooling.

I never went,
never needed to.

Make and sell the finest bricks.
That's all a man needs.

I have known men that did
fine without schooling,

but times are changing.

Savvy... that's all
it takes.

Look around you
here, ma'am.

That is the finest Clay this
side of the old country.

I knew it
when I found it.

I staked it out,
and it's mine.

It's as good
as a gold claim...

Even better.

I'm sure it is.

I had the savvy
to hunt for it

and to know it
when I found it.


That's all a man needs...
Is savvy.

I imagine your son has a
lot of that savvy, too.

He got it from me.

It runs in the family.

You put reading, writing, and
arithmetic with that savvy,

and you've got yourself
a winner.

Abel don't seem
to learn nothing

when he does
go to that school.

Besides, we got a heap of work to
do here before the snow flies,

or we'll go hungry
this winter.

Might be better
if he stayed right here

than go to that school
and learn nothing.

He'll learn
if he comes back.

I told you he can go
back anytime he wants.

Will you tell him he should
come back, must come back?

No, ma'am.
You tell him.

Then if he wants to go back,
that's all well and good,

but if he don't,

then I'll thank you
to leave him alone.

Thank you.


Caroline: It's
a promise, abel.

You'll have to work,

but I'll help you.

In no time at all,

you'll be reading

I'm too old...
Too big.

No, you're not.

Give yourself a chance.
You'll see.

You'll jump way ahead
of the others.

That's really
good, abel.

It was in the stick.

When I see a stick,
I see bones or something.

This was a man.

Here's something else.

I cooked it
to make it hard.

My goodness.

Abel, anyone with eyes to
see like this can learn.

You really think so?

I know so.

Caroline: All right, everybody.
Come on.

Come on.
Let's settle down.

Sit down
right around here.

Come on now.
We're not up here for a picnic.

We've got work to do.
Hurry up, please.

Sit down.

All right, sweetie.
Hurry back.

Let's see now.
Are we all here?

Abel makay
is not here.

I know he's not here,

He won't be here
until this afternoon.

He's the reason we're all
out here this morning.

What'd he do?

Caroline: Nothing.

He just promised to be here
this afternoon.

Now I want to ask a question
of all of you.

Has abel makay
ever harmed any of you?

I guess not.



No. Never did anything to me.

The next question is,

would you
be willing to help abel?

Girl: Why not?


I knew you would.

I didn't even
really need to ask.

Now, what
we're going to do is,

we're all of us
going to be teachers.

Would you like that?

Children: Yeah!

like fun.

Instead of laughing at abel
because he can't read,

we're all going to work together
to teach him to read.

How does that sound?

Sure. We'll help.

You'll be surprised
how quickly he'll learn

with your help.

Now, here's what
we're going to do.

All right. He's coming.
Do you have your letters ready?

Children: Yes, ma'am.

Today we're having
a review. We...

Oh, abel.

Sit down, please.

The desk
with the "t."

Today we're having
a review.

We're going back
to the fundamentals,

back to the alphabet.

Now, you're all making
too many mistakes

in your reading and your spelling
because you're hurrying,

and you're forgetting what
you should have learned.

When I call your name, stand
up and hold up your letter.

Tell us what the letter
is and how it sounds.

When the letters
form a word,

the person holding
the last letter

will tell us
what the word is.

All right.
Do you understand?

Yes, ma'am.

Let's try it.


My letter is "d."



My letter is "o."
My sound is au.


My letter is "g."
My sound is guh.

Duh-au-guh. Dog.


Sit down, please.


My letter is "c."

My sound is kuh.

My sound is kuh.


My letter is
"a." Ae.




My letter is "t."

My sound is tee.

Caroline: Tuh.





Sit down, please.

My letter is "b."
My sound is buh.


My letter is "a."
My sound is aa.


My letter is "t."
My sound is tuh.

Buh-aa-tuh. Bat. Bat .


See you tomorrow, Jack.

Laura: Hi, pa!

Mary: Hi, pa!

How you doing, girls?


Caroline, I'm sorry I'm late.
Had a big order to fill.

How did it go today?

Wonderful. I never
had a better day.

It worked, Charles. It really worked.

That's what I
like to hear.


Willie: "Frog."




"B... b... boat."

Well, hmm.

I declare, when my children
came home and told me,

I couldn't believe it.

Believe what,
Mrs. Oleson?

Mrs. Oleson: This,

exactly this...

That you have stopped
teaching the children

to pamper your favorite,

to baby one pupil,

this... this... this...
Dumb abel person here.

Why, he shouldn't even
be in school.

Look at him.
He's as big as I am.


Can any of you
spell compassion?

Can any of you
spell understanding?

Will any of you tell us
the meanings of these words?

Well, don't feel bad,

I don't think Mrs. Oleson knows the
meanings of these words either.

Well, really! I happen to
be a member of the board.

School is dismissed,

There will be no more school
until another teacher is found.


I take it you're
here to see my wife.

Mr. Hanson:
Where is she?

Around the side
of the house, there.

Dr. Baker:
Mrs. Ingalls.

Mrs. Ingalls.

Mrs. Ingalls,
as you can see,

we are here with our
hats in our hands

to beg you, please,
to reconsider.

We'd very much like you
to go on teaching.

I don't think I can.

Well, we've heard, uh...

What you might say
conflicting reports.

Would you tell us
what happened?

Would it be all right if I answer
your question with another question?

You bet you. You ask
anything you want to.

Suppose you were
at work in your mill,

grinding wheat into flour,

making a special effort,

and someone
came in uninvited...

I don't allow anyone
in the grinding room

when I am working.
That is my rule.

Suppose this person
came in anyway,

and while there,

took a rock and threw it
between the millstones

and ruined
all you were trying to do.

I would take
that person

by the back
of the collar

and the seat
of the pants,

and I would throw
him right out

into the middle
of the street!

That idea
did occur to me,

but unhappily,
I am a lady,

and this person
was also a lady.

Is that what happened, like
a rock between millstones?

What I was trying to do
was destroyed

in much the same way.

Do you want to tell them
about it, Mrs. Oleson?

Well, uh...

It wasn't anything
as serious as that.


I was... I was just, uh...

Well, certainly a mother has a
right to attend a school... Uh...

Uh... well, all I did...

Well, I mean,
all I wanted to do was...

To point out that one pupil
shouldn't get special attention,

uh, at the expense
of the others.

You interfered.

Is that
what happened?

One of my pupils ran out.
He was so humiliated.

I don't think
he'll ever come back.

Oleson, would you take
your wife by the back of...

Would you take your wife and wait
for us in the surrey, please?


You've caused enough trouble.
Come on.

If we promise there will
be no more interference,

would you come back?

I personally
guarantee it.

Now that I've lost the
pupil who needs me most...

I don't think I could
be a good teacher.

I'm sorry.

Is that light
bothering you?

No. Not at all.

This is
really a good book.

I'm reading
a chapter right here

tells you how to
make your own paint.

Are you going
to paint tomorrow?

No, I wasn't going
to paint tomorrow.

Then do you have to learn
how to make paint tonight?

The light
is bothering you.

It's just that
it's been quite a day.

I know. That whole
school business

has been kind of
upsetting, hasn't it?

I'm always upset
when I lose my temper.

Well, it's over now.
It's all for the best.

I probably never should have taken
the job in the first place.

I think you're right.
It's for the best.

Now, get some sleep.

Charles: I saw
Christy's father today.

Oh, what about him?

Oh, nothing.

He just said there's going
to be school tomorrow.

Mrs. Oleson's
going to teach.

You can't be serious!

Well, I'm just
telling you

what Christy's
father told me.

Well, Laura and Mary
aren't going.

What she has to teach,
they don't need to learn.

I agree.


If ever there was a person
unfit to teach school,

it is Mrs. Oleson.

It's all my fault. I never should
have lost my temper and quit.

Caroline, you just got through
telling me it was all for the best.

Where Mrs. Oleson is concerned,
nothing is for the best.


Is there
any popcorn left?


Good night.

Good night.

Well, look at you,
Mrs. Ingalls.

Pretty as
a speckled bird.

Thank you.
I won't be long.

Just one thing.

Remember, the eggs are for
selling, not for throwing.

Well, good morning,
Mrs. Ingalls.

How are you today?

Fine, thank you.

Oh, never better.
Never better.

Well, what do I
owe you for the eggs?

Aren't you going to count
them and price them?

Mrs. Oleson
always does.

Well, she's
not here today. She...

Well, anyway, I'll take
your word for the count

and the price
is the same as last time.

You know I'm not
teaching now.

Well, what has that
got to do with it?

Mrs. Oleson seemed to feel it had
something to do with the price.

Oh, no. No, no,
nothing like that,

anyway not with me.

All right, Mr. Oleson.

You owe me 56 cents,
and I'll spend it now.


Didn't you
tell the children

that I was going
to teach today?

We did.
That's the trouble.

Abel! It's good
to see you.

What are you
doing here?

Waiting for you,
Mrs. Ingalls.

Mr. Ingalls told me you'd
be coming this way.

Well, fine. Let's sit down
in the shade, shall we?

It's getting warm, and
I've been walking fast.

What have you been
doing with yourself?

Well, I, uh...

First I want to say I'm sorry
for the way I run off.

Oh, that's all right.
I understand.

The important thing
is that you go back.

Oh, I ain't
goin' back.

That's done,

I'm too old.
It's no use.

But, abel-.

my mind's made up.

What I done was...

Well, you were
so good to me,

and I didn't
work out.

I wanted to make it
up to you some way.

I made something.

Thought you could use it to
help teach the other kids.

It ain't that much,


This is very good.

You like it?

I made a few up.

I'll make
the whole alphabet.

I'll make the numbers,
too, if you like.

Abel, don't you see
what's happened?

In just
the little time we had,

letters and numbers
have gotten into your head,

and you're not ever going to be able
to get them out again now, not ever.

Well, what do you mean?

You're caught, abel.

You can't
help yourself now.

You're going
to learn to read

and write,
and figure...

And so many
more things.

But it's late, abel. You can't
afford to waste another day.

You've got
to go back to school.

Oh, no, ma'am.
I can't do that.

That's one thing
I won't do.

It's no use.

That don't mean

you can't take these
letters, and...

Yes, it does.


Because when you ran
away, I ran away, too.



When I lost you, I decided I
wasn't fit to be a teacher.

But you are fit.

What kind
of a teacher am I

if I can't keep the student
that needs me most in school?

Well, it's not your fault
I'm dumb... Dumb abel.

You're not dumb!

Well, you're not
a bad teacher.

We have a problem,
don't we?

How are we
going to solve it?

I ain't goin' back.

Well, I'm not
going back.

If I go back...

Will you go back?


Yes, yes!



Caroline: Mm. It's not
exactly like that.




History, isn't it?

His... to... ry.



Who can tell me the capital
of the United States?


The capital of the united
states is Washington, D.C.,

but New York has more
peop... population.


Hi. The girls will be
ready in a minute.

Well, it's your
last day, teacher.

Glad it's over?


I can devote more time
to my husband...

And my children.

But you enjoyed it.

I had good days
and bad days,

but... yes,
I enjoyed it.

And you're
going to miss it.


But only a little.

Mary: Ma, we're ready.

Better not
be late for school.

Bye, pa.

Bye, pa.

Children: B... D.

Good morning.

Mary: Good morning,
miss beadle.

Caroline: Sit down.

Welcome back,
miss beadle.

Thank you,
Mrs. Ingalls.

Abel makay
has something

he would like
to read for you.

Miss beadle: Abel.

"We want to thank you,
Mrs. Ingalls.

"You are a fine teacher

and a good friend
to us all."