Sunday, May 13, 2007

In Today's "Bad Idea News"

CNN reports from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, "Teachers stage fake gunman attack on sixth graders." That's one of those awesome headlines that simultaneously tells you everything you need to know and leaves a million questions. I'll answer the most pressing one: it was supposed to be a "learning experience," like on one of those corporate retreats, where they make you fall backwards into the arms of someone else or do the zip line, except this was children "begging for their lives, because they thought there was someone with a gun after them," in the context of psycho mass-murderers saturating the media. Assistant Principal Don Bartch led the trip and tried to justify it afterwards, in that cautious manner public servants develop when they're surrounded by outrage. He comes off hilariously stoic, though: "We got together and discussed what we would have done in a real situation," he said, ignoring the fact that you can discuss that without the live simulation.

I'm surprised at how much effort these teachers put into frightening the kids.

During the last night of the trip, staff members convinced the 69 students that there was a gunman on the loose. They were told to lie on the floor or hide underneath tables and stay quiet. A teacher, disguised in a hooded sweat shirt, even pulled on a locked door.

After the lights went out, about 20 kids started to cry, 11-year-old Shay Naylor said.

I had teachers who wouldn't even bother to mimeograph their dittos legibly. Admittedly, this teaching strategy could potentially solve a lot of classroom behavior projects — "If I catch you passing notes one more time, I swear I'm gonna call in Johnny The Ax-Wielding Psychopath, and he'll give you so much detention...."

The parents, of course, overreact, but — unlike their poor kids — for all the wrong reasons. It's politically incorrect to make the kids think there's a gunman on the loose right after the Virginia Tech massacre, which is bullshit. I read the article the first time and I thought it actually sounded like a kind of cool way to play make-believe, like people who take vacations at spy school or something. Granted, you're kind of forced into this little mind-fuck here, but it's honestly no different than going camping late at night, telling ghost stories and holding the flashlight right under your chin, right?

You're scared cause you don't know what's out there. But you're also scared cause you're on your own... and so there really is something to learn from this whole fear experience, but it's not what do we do in the incredibly small chance we're being hunted down. I would feel betrayed, the lesson being not to trust the lying, manipulating adults around you — bet they're all back in the teachers' lounge having a good laugh about that one. And in sixth grade, too! Shouldn't you at least be allowed to hit puberty before turning all jaded towards the authorities?


Fajita said...

Keep up with the story and you will see that it is not so horrible as it sounded.