Little House on the Prairie

Season 6 Episode 2

Back To School (2)

Aired Wednesday 12:00 AM Sep 24, 1979 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
117 votes

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Episode Summary

Back To School (2)

Laura decides that becoming a teacher will convince everyone of her maturity, but first she must pass the graduation exam.

Who was the Episode MVP ?

  • Fun episode

    After reading the Bios of Laura, Mary and Nellie the last few years, it was fun to see tthe shows the way they remember them. Melissa Gilbert really didn't like the actor who played Almonzo, wanted a different type, but she acted well enough to never see it.

    I loved the mud fight, the scenes with Mrs Oleson (always fun) but sometimes after seeing these shows so many times, see other things I ignored before.

    Why are those dishes Charles worked so hard far from the Widow Snyder,never being used after they said "everyday was a special day?" Why does it take Ma "all day" to look for something in the house when it should take 5 minutes. : ) Silly, but that what familiarity breeds. I love them though.moreless
  • A great episode!! Laura and Nellie engage in their dirty tricks to win over Almanzo.

    This was a fabulous episode. I love the original relationship between Laura and Almanzo -- how they met and how everything worked. It also really showed the problems Laura and Nellie had. I watched this episode regularly, and then with the commentary, which is done by Alison Arngrim. I highly recommend you watch the commentary. Alison is very natural talking about it, and it gives a lot of information. She can also be very funny, saying things like: "You know, life would be a lot simpler if everybody listened to Ma Ingalls." And my favorite, when she's describing the memorable mud fight: "Look at this! I'm 6 inches taller, maybe 10 or 15 pounds heavier, and she is completely defeating me! You do not want to get into a fight with Melissa Gilbert." The episode, in general, is very memorable and very fun. Its about growing up, love, and general problems. Watch it for sure!moreless
  • Laura wants to grow up quickly, mainly to impress Almanzo. To do so, she intends to become a teacher.

    Laura finds herself falling deeply for Almanzo in spite of the considerable age gap between them. She is also sick and tired of being thought of as a "little girl" and thinks of a sure fire way to be considered more 'grown up' - she wants to take the graduation exam like Nellie and then the teaching exam so that she will be qualified to teach.

    The problems begin when she asks Nellie for her help. We know immediately that things are not going to turn out well as Nellie seems practically incapable of doing or saying anything nice at any time. Laura should have known better but that would have made the episode far less interesting and it was certainly a terrific one for the second part of the season opener. You will definitely have to watch this one as well as the one before it. Terrific!moreless
  • Laura believes Almanzo Wilder is the man she will marry, he is much older than she is. She takes her teaching exam because she believes that will make her appear older. She ends up failing and it was Nellie's fault.moreless

    This was a hilarious episode along with part one too. I loved the part where Laura pushes Nellie into the mud and Almanzo must pull them apart. You should see what Laura says to Nellie after that while she is leaving with Almanzo. It is very cute when \"Beth\", Laura tries to talk to Almanzo about what happened. Then when Charles comes in how she yells at both of them and tells them she is not a little girl. I thought this was a very good episode and you can tell in here that Laura really really loves her \"Manly\" a.k.a. Almanzo.moreless
  • Laura falls in love with Almonzo, who is older than her, she tries to grow up quickly.

    Laura has fallen in live with Almanzo and wants him to notice her. She decides to take the graduation test so that she may graduate, and therefore, appear older. She turns to Nellie for help. Nellie loans her the books she needs to study for the examination. However Nellie is still upset about the Almanzo chicken fiasco so she gives Laura the wrong study tips. Laura discovers this during the examination and fails. She confronts Nellie and they get into a fight, rolling in a big mud puddle. Almanzo seperates them and takes Laura home with him to help her clean up Nellie goes home and tells Caroline and Charles about the fight, and about Laura leaving with Almanzo. Thinking the worst, Charles drives over to his place and punches Almanzo because he believes Almanzo has taken advantage of his daughter, as Laura is dressed in Almanzo's robe while waiting for her clothes to dry. Almanzo doesn't blame Charles for wanting to protect his little girl. Laura yells at both of them and declares she is a woman not a child.moreless
Dean Butler

Dean Butler

Almanzo James Wilder (co-star prior to season 7)

Melissa Gilbert

Melissa Gilbert

Laura Elizabeth Ingalls/Wilder

Patrick Labyorteaux

Patrick Labyorteaux

Andrew 'Andy' Garvey (1977 - 1981) (as Patrick Laborteaux)

Lucy Lee Flippin

Lucy Lee Flippin

Eliza Jane Wilder (1979 -1980)

Kevin Hagen

Kevin Hagen

Dr. Hiram Baker

Richard Bull

Richard Bull

Nels Oleson

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (6)

    • During the scene around the dinner table, Charles mentions that he quit school to go to work when he was twelve, but that he had to do it because he was "the man of the house" and was expected to support his family. But in Season 3's Journey in the Spring, we are introduced to Charles' parents, who are happily married, even though the husband was always a self-pitying downer. We know from this episode that Lansford was clearly in his son Charles' life as a child, and furthermore, Charles has an older brother named Peter, so if any of the Ingalls boy were the "man of the house," it was older child Peter.
      Reply: True, but in Season 3's Journey in the Spring, Part 1, we met Peter as an adult, and it was clear that he was very bitter and resentful toward their father. It's reasonable to believe, then, that Peter had that anger when they were kids, forcing Charles to step up and be the mature one.

    • After being tricked by Nellie, Laura angrily informs her that the examination was "all history." ALL history?? This may just be nitpicking, but I think what she meant to say was "a lot of history." Surely the whole thing wasn't just that subject area.

    • Even considering everything, it's a little unrealistic that the super-gentlemanly Almanzo would drive Laura home after the fight with Nellie and leave Nellie just sitting there in the mud.

    • This is the second time in the series that Laura is forced to humble herself to Nellie Oleson and apologize to her. The first time was in Season 5's Fagin. However, in this episode, Laura is clearly the one at fault, doing something to Nellie when Nellie hadn't done anything to her at that exact time. This wasn't the case in Fagin, when Nellie had it coming.

    • Reality is suspended a great deal in this 2-part episode, regarding the Laura/Nellie relationship. In Part 1, Laura sweetly offers to cook Nellie a full dinner for her and Almanzo. Then, in Part 2, Nellie acts all friendly and agrees to loan Laura the books for the exam--and give her some "advice" about the actual test. Given the negative history that these two girls have with each other, I find it incredibly hard to believe that either of them would be so stupid as to think that the other would do something so amicably for them. Laura, especially, should have known that after deliberately ruining Nellie's dinner with Almanzo, Nellie would absolutely have a revenge plot of her own. This could be considered nitpicking, though.

    • When Harriet brings Nellie into the restaurant after the infamous mud fight with Laura, Nellie is immersed in mud from head to toe--there is absolutely nothing but mud showing on her body. However, when Laura left Nellie after the fight, Nellie was not covered quite that much. Granted, Nellie did thrash around in the mud afterward, but still, she would have had to practically dunk herself completely under in order to look the way she did when Harriet brought her into the restaurant.

  • QUOTES (16)

    • Laura: (overvoice) I took Ma's advice and didn't say anything more about Almanzo. I guess I knew I'd always be Hafe-Pint to Pa, but I was just as sure that I would someday be Laura Ingalls Wilder.

    • Laura: You were out on your own, and working, when you were 12.
      Albert: You did say that, Pa.
      Charles: Albert, you're not in this conversation.
      Albert: Yes, sir.
      Charles: It was different for me. I was a man, I was supposed to go out and support the family.
      Caroline: Now, wait just a minute. I do agree that it's a little early for Laura to be teaching, but not because she's a woman. Now, I know this is a sore spot with you, Charles, but a woman is supporting this family right now.
      Albert: That is true, Pa......
      Charles: Albert, please!

    • Nellie: Oh, hello, Laura. How did the test go?
      Laura: (through clenched teeth) It was all history.
      Nellie: You're joking!
      Laura: Miss Wilder says they're always all history.
      Nellie: Really? (smiles smugly) Well, now that I thin back.....I guess there was more history on it than I thought. I hope you're not angry.
      Laura: Why should I be? It wasn't on purpose, was it?
      Nellie: Of course not.
      Laura: Well, neither is this! (grabs Nellie around the neck and drags her toward mud)
      Nellie: Aaah! Ah, you wouldn't dare!
      Laura: You bet I will! (throws her in)

    • Charles: (after punching Almanzo) I'm really sorry, Mr. Wilder. My wife told me not to act with haste, and I did.
      Almanzo: That's okay. If I had a little girl, I'd probably have done the same thing.
      Laura: Stop it, all of you. Stop calling me a little girl--and talking about me like I'm not even here! I'm a woman--a woman! And I hate all of you!

    • Laura: Oh, and one more thing, Pa. When we're around other folks, would you please call me Laura or Beth instead of Half-Pint?
      Charles: (long pause) Sure....of course. If that's what you want.
      Laura: Thanks, Pa.
      Charles: Of course, we're not around other folks now, so finish eating your greens, Half-Pint!

    • Caroline: (about the graduation exam) Laura, you don't even have all of this year's books yet. How are you going to study something you don't have? There's no way we can afford them right now.
      Laura: Well, Nellie just took the exam, she has all the books. I could ask her to loan them to me.
      Albert: You would go begging to Nellie?
      Laura: I would if I had to. I want to be a teacher.

    • Caroline: You and your much alike. You're a girl trying to act like a woman, and he's a man acting like a boy. The only difference is, he'd be the first to admit it.
      Laura: But it's different for me.
      Caroline: How? Laura, look at me. How is it different for you?
      Laura: Because I love Almanzo.

    • Laura: Ma? I'm going to make Almanzo see me as a woman someday, because I love him.
      Caroline: I know you will. But I wouldn't tell your father that just yet.

    • Laura: First I failed the test, then Pa hitting Almanzo, then the two of them calling me a little was awful!
      Caroline: Well, aren't you?
      Laura: Aren't I what?
      Caroline: A little girl. Aren't you a little girl?
      Laura: No!
      Caroline: Then stop acting like one.

    • Laura: It was the test. Nellie told me there wasn't any history on it, and it was all history, and she knew it!
      Almanzo: Oh. So you didn't do so well then, huh?
      Laura: I did awful.
      Almanzo: Well, it's not the end of the world. You can take the test again. My sister had to take that test three times before she passed it. Three times!
      Laura: Really?
      Almanzo: Yes. And she felt bad about it, too. But she didn't give up. She kept right on working until she got it down. That's a good test for people--lets them find out what they're made of. You seem like the kind of person who wouldn't give up, no matter what.

    • Charles: All right, Mr. Wilder. Now, suppose you explain to me how my daughter ended up here, in your house, wearing your robe! Maybe you'd like to explain that to me!
      Laura: Pa, I got in a fight, and I got wet. Almanzo was just being nice!
      Charles: Oh, and I suppose he was "just being nice" when he kissed you, huh?
      Laura: On the forehead, for luck on my test!
      Charles: What?
      Almanzo: Yes, sir. You didn't think that I would--why, Beth's just a little girl!

    • Laura: Almanzo doesn't call me Half-Pint.
      Charles: Oh, Almanzo?
      Laura: Yeah. He calls me Beth. It's a woman's nickname.

    • Laura: You never gave Mary a silly nickname like Half-Pint.
      Charles: I never thought it was a silly nickname. Besides that, Mary's older.
      Laura: Not that much older.
      Charles: She's a grown woman, she's a teacher--
      Laura: I'm gonna be a teacher!
      Charles: Okay, well, when you're a teacher, I'm sure everyone will treat you like an adult. But for right now, you're my little girl, and you've living under our roof, and as long as you do you're gonna do what your Ma and I tell you--starting with apologizing to Almanzo.

    • Caroline:(after charles comes in from going to Almonzo's house) What happend?

      Charles:(sheepishly) I reacted with haste...

      Caroline: Oh Charles!

    • Charles: Now the one thing my little girl can do is own up to her punishment.
      Laura: I'm not afraid of being punished, but I'm not a little girl. Why does everyone keep calling me a little girl?

    • Caroline: Charles, don't do anything in haste!
      Charles: Haste? Oh, no, Caroline, I won't do anything in haste. I'll take all the time in the world to beat Almanzo Wilder within an inch of his life!

  • NOTES (2)

    • Alison Arngrim (Nellie) has discussed in previous interviews the famous mud fight scene with Melissa Gilbert (Laura). Arngrim has often mentioned how physically strong Gilbert was in real life, and not only did she really thrash Arngrim around, but Arngrim vividly remembers how Gilbert's hand came around suddenly and got her right in the mouth with a handful of mud!

    • Mrs. Oleson and Nellie Oleson are credited as guests stars in this episode.


    • As Nellie lies in the mud, kicking and screaming in anger after her big fight with Laura, the viewer can hear a heavily orchestrated, yet campy version of the tune "Wait 'Til the Sun Shines, Nellie" as the background music. This song is an "old standard" and an American classic, but it wasn't written until 1905, so it's technically out of place here.