31 October 2007

The Haunted Schoolhouse Carnival

“What are you supposed to be dressed up as?” asked the Repairman.

“I’m Virgil. You know? The Aeneid? The Inferno?” replied the Science Goddess. “I’m your guide on this tour, after all.”

“Works for me, but I’m not so sure about this whole haunted school idea. I’ll bet this creaky old place has plenty of horror in store for us.”

They started up the steps, easily passing through the gate. “Gee,” said Mike, “This school has about as much security as mine does. Maybe they have the same admins who talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk.”

“Just the word ‘admins’ sends a shiver up my back,” added Greg. “Did you read about the one who went unpunished for something that would have a student under a ‘zero tolerance’ policy expelled?”

“Yeah, well, the administration in my district can’t seem to make up its collective mind about whether or not teachers should be using novels in their language arts classes,” said Jo.

Mamacita perked up when she heard the discussion about novels. “Gosh, some of those books from my childhood are still influencing me today. It would seem important to have them.”

“Agreed,” said Jo.

Joanne looked at the visitors, all dressed in costumes. “I wonder if this school ever allowed children to come in costume at Halloween? Some schools these days have changed their policies.”

At first, all seemed quiet in the building. There was no trace of ghosts on the stairs…but a low moan started from down the hallway. “Those are the sounds of teachers who have been toiling away,” said the Goddess. “Let’s move down to see what has happened to them.”

In the first room, they found Chanman, buried under thousands of miniature skateboards. “These things bugged the life right of me. I hope you aren’t suffering as I have.”

The group scurried away, wondering what would be in the next circle of schoolish hell. They found Frumteacher, her soul tired from dealing with bullies in the classroom and the Woodlass, whose hands had become staple removers in an effort to rid the classroom of neverending clutter.

Siobhan said, “I can empathize with Frumteacher. There but for the grace of Spellings go I. I’ve certainly been thinking a lot about respect in the classroom.”

The group toured further down the hallway to find Carol, forever crafting and balancing her deadlines. “Can’t you see how easily just one small thing throws it all off track?”

Peeking on Darren, they could see him cutting up stacks of Che Guevara t-shirts. “Why are these allowed in school?” he wondered aloud.

The moans grew louder as the band of brave explorers found the staff meeting area. Bill was rattling his chains inside. “How are we ever supposed to make sense of the data when there’s measurement error?”

Mike shuddered. “I don’t think they’ll be getting out of there for a long time.”

“Do we have time for a stop at the restroom?” asked Ms. Cornelius. “I don’t want to be graphic, but those last scenes nearly scared the…well, you know.”

“The lounge is just ahead.” said the Goddess.

Mister Teacher asked, “Will you be browsing in there the way I see some students doing at my school?”

“Heavens, no!”

They entered the teachers’ lounge. Inside, Mamacita and Mrs. Bluebird were chatting. “Trick or treat!”

“No treats here,” said Mrs. Bluebird. “In fact, I’ve heard some things recently that I wish I hadn’t.”

“Me, too.” Mamacita sighed. “There are just some things I’ll never understand about how some children are treated.”

The group noticed some stairs leading to the basement. “Do we dare go down there?” one of the group asked the Goddess.

“No. That area is a special pit reserved for those teachers who have sexual relations with a student.” She answered.

Nancy joined the group at this point. “Yes, sadly enough. I was just writing about this very issue in Sex, Lies, and Newspapers.”

As was I,” said Marcella.

Dave said, “Maybe we need to be more selective about who we invite to join the profession.”

“And maybe we need to be aware that kids are growing up all too fast these days,” added the Education Wonks.

The group moved upstairs. “This is the area where unresolved issues go,” said the Goddess.

“Like what?” asked Ms. Cornelius.

“For example, whether or not the idea of schools as ‘dropout factories’ is really new. Matt certainly thinks that they aren’t.”

“Or,” said VJack, “the value of an education. Will we ever determine what that means for students---especially at the college level?”

Dave said, “I’m more worried about the watering down of standards and expectations at the public school level. What was the LA Times thinking with its recent editorial on NCLB?”

Ms. Cornelius screamed. “Aaaaaah! Don’t say that…acronym!”

Dave apologized. Dy/Dan said, “If you really want to squirm, read ‘Why Schools Don’t Educate.’ I did. Stop by sometime and read my response.”

“Better yet,” said Matthew, “Have you seen the brouhaha over Bill O’Reilly and Media Matters over the state of American History Education. I got sucked into that one, even though I had tried not to at first.”

“I was thinking about what you mentioned, VJack,” said Henry. “Perhaps more people should see what advice Thomas Sowell has offered about choosing a college.”

“Or maybe it’s not all about college,” added Lynn. “I think we need to do more to individualize education for students.”

“Either way,” said Maureen, “there continues to be a disparity of science education offerings to students.”

“Not to mention the continuing data coming in about differences in gender performance in math.” added Eduwonkette.

“What’s that racket over there?” asked the Repairman.

“Just the same old hem and haw about Unions,” said the Goddess. “At the moment, Ms. Teacher is in their corner, but Muse is upset with hers for thinking the membership is too dumb to notice that a lower salary was negotiated.” The group cast pitying eyes their direction.

The NYC Educator sighed loudly. “No matter what happens, there’s a continued lack of support for teachers. They’re no better off than a processed sandwich."

The group moved along to the final stairway, moans and groans fading into the distance.

“Up here are our more successful tales,” said the Goddess guide.

Pat offered some tips on using a Student Job Description in place of classroom rules while the Fresh Geeks suggested some ways to have students work with digital art.

“Even in the midst of chaos, some order can be found…to co-opt a phrase from Nietzsche,” said Judy. “Why, even in Detroit, you can find some urban success.”

“Maybe, just maybe, reducing class sizes could solve many issues,” offered Bogusia.

“Certainly couldn’t hurt. That, plus some lessons for schools from dead CEOs,” said the Eduguru.

The group laughed. “And with that,” said the Goddess, “shall we away for some treats…maybe even a little ‘brew’?”

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this week’s Carnival of Education. If you are interested in hosting one of these extravaganzas, please contact the Education Wonks at owlshome [at] earthlink [dot] net. Next week’s affair will be hosted by Right Wing Nation. Use the blogcarnival submission form to send your post.


Mamacita (The REAL one) said...

You've done an excellent job with the Carnival: so clever and creative!

Thank you for including me.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful piece of proza, and what an inspiring carnival! Thank you for including my entry! Happy Halloween!

askthehomediva said...

What an excellent intro to this week's Carnival! I got so tied up reading the intro, I ran out of time this morning and will have to wait and read the rest of the posts at lunch. What a treat ;-)

Thanks for including me with so many great entries! --Carol

The Science Goddess said...

It's always fun to put together. Thanks for contributing to the merry mayhem!

EdWonk said...

Very Nicely Done!

siobhan curious said...

How clever! I also got caught up in reading your story, though, and didn't make it to any of the posts. Never mind; that means more good reading for later. Thanks for this.

Hugh O'Donnell said...

If the entries are as enjoyable as your tour, it'll be a great day!

Can't believe it's Wednesday already!

Anonymous said...

Hey Goddess....you've proven yet again why you're one of my favorite Carnival hosts ever!

I, too, haven't read any entries yet...I just enjoyed the writing. Now back for some entry exploration....

The Radical...

The Science Goddess said...

Aw, Radical...you sweet talker. :)

Batya said...

Fantastic job!

"Ms. Cornelius" said...

You got me in there even though I was a complete space cadet and forgot the day of the week it was. Bless you! I do hate acronyms and jargon, too. Just right.

Great thread connecting all the posts! You're a wonder!

ms-teacher said...

thanks for including me and for doing such a great job hosting this carnival. Kudos to you!

Anonymous said...

Most excellent! Thanks for the mention and the creative presentation.

Nancy Flanagan,
Teacher in a Strange Land

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the article. Thanks for including Fresh Geeks in this edition of the carnival. Have a great day!

Sandra Porter said...

very clever!