Learning Experience

Un-effin’-believable.

When I read the news blurb the other day, it seemed so far-fetched that I figured there had to be a mistake. Or that the news was not reporting all of it, and there was some “rest of the story” that would, in context, help everything to make sense.

I was wrong.

In case anyone missed it, in Murfreesboro, Tennesee a group of middle-school children on a class trip were suddenly terrorized by their teachers subjected to a “learning experience:” they were told that a gunman was attempting to attack them, that it was “not a drill” and spent the next five minutes believing that a crazed killer was rattling the doors trying to get at them as they hid under tables, crying and pleading for their lives.

The Fox News report suggested that the teachers considered it to be “a prank,” as well as a “learning experience” because after they finished terrorizing the students, they explained that it was to foster a discussion on what they would do should it have been a real situation.

In what could well win the Understatement of the Year Award, CNN reported that some parents were “upset by the staff’s poor judgment.”

Over the last few years, we have seen dozens of reports of schoolchildren being disciplined for writing book reports or essays in which violence was suggested. Teenage frustration, expressed on web logs, MySpace accounts or in email has been used to subject students to suspension or expulsion, and even legal action. But so far, the Murfreesboro school board has not taken any disciplinary action against the so-called adults responsible for this “learning experience” that would have landed any other teenager in jail.

Now, I’ve been guilty of poor judgment in my life – we all have. But on a trip with 69 students, we know that there must have been more than one adult. Could one adult have dreamed up a stunt gone wrong? Sure. But out of the several other teachers on this trip, how is it possible that the other adults did not intervene, to point out the flaws in the plan?

Apparently, it’s because they were all crazy. What are the odds?

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