The paradoxical word sophomore embodies the roots Sophos and Moros meaning wise and foolish. How exactly can one be wise and foolish at the same time? In Greco-Roman literature, a wise fool is generally defined through a narrative in which a character who is recognized as a fool also happens to be seen as a beholder of wisdom; one whose reasoning and cognitive ability fail to utilize, in real-world applications, the wisdom learned. So, why does the word sophomore also refer to a second-year high school student? It is simply because these students have the necessary wisdom and knowledge to be deemed wise but are still in the midst of immaturity and childishness. As a [near] sophomore personally, I believe there is no other word more fit for this current period of childhood, and so here I will narrate two short anecdotes as to why I consider myself to be a “wise fool.”
Curiosity and experimentation have almost never lead me to any good. Two or three years ago, I was playing an electrical socket in my undeveloped basement and happened to remember having a motor and pieces of wire from an electric circuit set in my closet. I quickly dug it out and connected it to the fully exposed socket in the basement. I wiggled it around in the wall and managed to send sparks and embers everywhere, creating mini firecrackers all around. It was quite a show, at least until I saw my dad come down to see what all the banging was about. His eyes stopped upon the fried wire and motor sticking out from the wall and then glanced back at me. I got quite a scolding that night. Looking back, I am kind of surprised I did not burn the house down and that the socket is still functional after all these years.
As I mentioned earlier, curiosity has been my downfall numerous times, and this next story clearly does not change that. One day, I was walking home on a windy and rainy day and was intrigued by the amount of force my umbrella withstood against the wind. I immediately thought of the many fanciful movies and sitcoms where umbrellas would serve as alternatives to parachutes, and when I got back home and waited for the rain to cease, I propped up a ladder to my roof and climbed up excitedly, ready for an experiment that would be revolutionary. When I jumped off, however, the canopy of the umbrella rather flapped invertedly and allowed the air to flow past its previously impenetrable material, and I soon found myself laying on the ground with scrapes and bruises all across my body and thinking about the foolishness of the plan I had devised.
So, what can be inferred from these two short stories? Most sophomores still have, at least a remainder of, the childish drive to resolve doubt and uncertainty, and so they attempt the most foolish and bizarre of behaviors imprudently to find answers. All wisdom and knowledge learned are thus rendered useless without proper cognitive development, or in a more orthodox saying, common sense. Therefore, in a state of childhood where sagacity clashes with immaturity, and success is restrained by foolishness, sophomores continue to be stranded on an island of percipience suppressed by a sea of folly.