Sunday, August 19, 2018

438: School

Late yesterday, I walked into the living room at our East Little Rock condo and found a character I call “Ronald Charles, the National Merit Scholar,” sprawled on the couch studying the view of Little Rock’s skyline. Of course, it was C.W., and I usually enjoy him in this shape.

Today he seemed a bit down.

“What’s up?” I said.

“Oh, nothing,” he said, using the most common response a teenager uses when something is truly bugging him.

“Share,” I said.

“Can I have a beer?”

“It’s ‘may I have a beer’ and, no, you’re too young.”

“I’m 647 years old in your time,” he said.

“Then choose another form. What’s bugging you?”

“The schools,” he said. “Those things called ‘charter schools.’ I visited one yesterday.”

“How did you do that?”

He looked at me as if I had just asked how he managed to tie his shoes this morning.

I changed tactics. “What did you find out?”

“It was weird,” he said.

“How so?”

“For one thing, the entire first hour of class was devoted to what they called ‘dialogue training’ and it was most odd.”

“How so?”

The kids were divided into groups and were being made to memorize and deliver standard bits of dialogue.”

“Like what?”

“One group was being made to stand as the teacher walked up and say, ‘Good morning. Welcome to ‘Betsy DeVoss High School.’ Each student had to practice it until the teacher was satisfied.”

“Anything else?”

“Another group was doing the same thing, only with a different dialogue.”

“Which was?”

“How are you folks doing today?”

“I see. Any others?”

“Some were practicing giving directions, like ‘yes sir, or ma’am, it’s right down on Aisle Five’ over and over.”

“I see. Then they held classes?”

“Not until they assembled in the auditorium and did a few school cheers. This included a final arm salute to someone named Saint Sam.”

“And then?”

“They went to their classes, but they weren’t classes like any I’ve ever seen.”

“Oh really?”

“No. I snitched a schedule that one student left lying on a bench.” He produced a sheet of wrinkled paper, smoothed it and said. “Listen to these.” He took a breath and read, “Proving Science Wrong 108.”


“You heard me. I stood outside the door and heard the teacher say, ‘It is a well-known historical fact that Charles Darwin accepted Christ as his personal savior on his deathbed and recanted his entire body of work. Now that’s false science for you.’ She then told them the assignment for the next day was to read the chapter called ‘Paul’s Travels as the Basis of Modern Geographic Systems.’”

“That’s not true about Darwin. I can’t believe you actually heard that.”

My Falloonian Elders don't
understand your concept
of flexible truth. - C. W.
“I don’t think ‘true’ was a measurement of accuracy in that class,” he said. “There’s more. You should have listened in on the one called ‘Flexible Mathematics: The Limitations of Numbers 107.’”

“You’re not serious.”

“Seems one no longer needs to learn things that the machines will do for you anyway.”

“You’re making me nauseated.”

“It gets worse.”


He read from the list. “Obsolete Teachings 101: History.”


He ignored me and continued. “Obsolete Teachings 102: Public Administration.”

I waited. He read, “Obsolete Teachings 103: Moral Imperatives in Modern America.”

“I think I’ve heard enough.”

He said, “No, it gets better. Standing outside the class on business administration, I heard a lecture called, ‘The Use of Tag-Team Matches in Conflict Resolution.’ It was the most interesting of call.”

“I can imagine. What did you do next?”

“I stood outside the Religion 104 class and heard a lecture called, ‘The Beatitudes as False Doctrine.’ It required the students to rise on cue and give a salute to that Saint Sam person.”

“I think I’ve heard enough.”

“Wait,” he said, “I haven’t even told you about the classes they were holding in the Athletic Wing. Well,” he said, “they called them classes anyway.”

“I think,” I said, “that you can have that beer now if I can join you.” 

See also:

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