Living In 1984

| MT, USA | Learning | April 3, 2014

(It is just one month into my job after being hired as the new English teacher. Before I was hired, the superintendent informed me that I would be coming up with a new curriculum for secondary level English. The day finally comes for me to present the new curriculum.)

Superintendent: “Oh, [My Name]! Glad to see you here bright and early. Let’s go into the conference room. Luckily, everyone is early today, so we can get started right away.”

(I wasn’t informed there would be anyone else, but thought nothing of it at that moment. I gathered my materials and went to the conference room. There I found the math teacher, science teacher, music teacher, and the superintendent. It takes about an hour to run through my entire curriculum plan.)

Me: “Are there any questions?”

Music Teacher: “We want the students to be ready for college. I specifically want them to be able to get any reference or joke made about all of the classics.”

Me: “I’m happy to hear that you agree with me. With this plan, I firmly believe they will be able to achieve that and much more.”

Music Teacher: “But why do you have them reading so many? They should be focusing only on the classics: The Giver, The Great Gatsby, Romeo and Juliet, and… oh, what was the last one…”

Math Teacher:The Diary of a Young Girl.”

Music Teacher: “Yes! That’s it, the Frank girl. So why waste their time on all of those other books?”

Me: “Are… Did… What? You only listed four books. How would that “get them ready” for college?”

Superintendent: “She’s right. They don’t need to be reading those other books. For example, you have them reading The Catcher in the Rye. Who cares about that book? Yet you’re only teaching The Giver in such a short time frame. That book should encompass their freshman year.”

Me: “I am sure we can work out some references throughout their freshman year with other books. What other books do you want to couple with it?”

Superintendent: “No, no. That is the book I want you to teach during their freshmen year.”

Me: “The whole year!? Do you realize what book you’re even talking about? And what about the other years?”

Superintendent: “In depth teaching of one book per year.”

Music Teacher: “This way they will have managed the classics and be experts on them.”

Me: “What about the rest of the classics? Jane Eyre, Of Mice and Men, Animal Farm, 1984, etc… There are so many!”

Superintendent: “Those aren’t classics. Who has ever made a reference to any of those?”

Music & Math Teacher: “Can’t say I’ve ever heard anyone reference any of those.”

Me: “Have none of you seen the famous Apple Super Bowl commercial? ‘1984 won’t be like 1984?'”

Superintendent: “That wasn’t a reference to any book. That’s just some computer nonsense.”

Music Teacher: “I thought you were good with computers, too? How could you not know that?”

Math Teacher: “[My Name], you may need to rethink your career choice. You didn’t even know there are only four classics. Maybe you should do something simpler, like gym teacher.”

Me: “I just… What is… There aren’t only four…”

(The science teacher, who has been quiet during all of this, leans over to me and whispers in a pained voice.)

Science Teacher: “Run far away from here. Seriously, run.”

(They implemented their grand idea, teaching only four books through the four years of high school. Luckily, I quit the next day after they made their decision. Fortunately, the school was closed two years later and all the students were moved to my new school 40 miles away… where they have a lot of catching up to do.)

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