The interpreter was with a half-class of Grade 3 students in a meadow at the edge of a forest of big-leaf maple trees and hazelnut shrubs. He said, "Find three different deciduous leaves, and make rubbings of them using your crayons and paper, but," he cautioned, "whatever you do, do not use this plant here." He poked the plant with stick, and bent it back and forth, so that even the dimmest among them understood which plant. "Notice that there are other ones around too. Take a good look at these plants and be sure you do not touch them," he said.
"Why not?" asked a boy.
The interpreter said, "This is stinging nettle. It is covered in tiny hairs filled with acid. If you touch the hairs, the acid will get into your skin, and it will sting very badly, worse than a bee sting."
The students pondered, briefly. The boy touched the plant. He yelled, "Ow! Ow! Ow!"
"Why did you touch the plant?" the interpreter asked, in dismay. From behind, another boy shrieked in pain. The interpreter turned to find him holding one hand with the other, next to a stinging nettle. "Don’t touch the nettles!" the interpreter shouted.
Then a girl cried out, "Ow, this hurts, this hurts, this hurts!"
"Stop touching the nettles!" the interpreter yelled, and lunged to prevent another from stinging himself. But there were fifteen of them, and only one of him, so there was little he could do to contain the madness.
The teacher of the class, who had been some distance away with the other half and another interpreter, now came upon her students, who were bent over in pain, clutching their hands, with tears rolling down their cheeks. "What's going on?" she cried.
The first boy pointed at the interpreter. "He told us to touch the stinging plants," he said
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