There's no cute numerical graphic to go with this post, as seems to be traditional on Steemit. I was not paying attention today, because I was too busy witnessing future shock in action.
At my kid's high school today, the administration found themselves behind the social media curve.
The kids were really on edge after yesterday's school shooting in Florida, and when a number of very loud arguments between students broke out before school, and the administration called in some extra cops, the rumors ran rampant. There were knives confiscated (true, yesterday, but not today); there were fights (not true, according to the strict legal definition of assault); there were guns (also not true); and on and on. It was like one of those random tables in Dungeons & Dragons.
The admin team spent the whole day chasing their tails, making sure the rumors were not true. In the meantime, the front office and its parental volunteers was overwhelmed by the speed and efficiency of the Internet, which turned a moderately bad day into a brush fire. Parents, texted by their frightened children (who were not being continually reassured that things were fine, because the admins were too busy chasing rumors), came by and pulled them out of school.
The "let's chat" after school was pretty interesting. Today's situation had revealed some ugly biases and some legitimate concerns on the part of parents, in roughly equal measures.
For instance, the previous principal had the "good ol' boy" gift, and the current one is a more formal and reserved character, who (with his bosses in the room watching him) was very concerned with the legal differences between an argument, an incident, and a fight -- which, while entirely relevant, did not endear him to the more panicky parents, who wanted to be comforted as much as their children did. An all-hands assembly at the beginning of the day, or even a "This is the Captain speaking" announcement over the coms could have prevented much of this, if Kirk had been in charge (sorry, been watching classic Trek again).
It's ironic. I'm not a particularly charismatic person, but I teach in a charismatic program, where I benefit from reflected glory and the raised expectations of students. In that unusual situation, it's not too hard to flip some levers and pull some switches to become The Great and Powerful Neuroscientist.
I actually have to spend a lot of time puncturing those thought-balloons, emphasizing the scientific process over scientific Personalities, pulling back the curtain to reveal a certain amount of tedium and disappointment. It's Science, not Magic. Most experiments don't work out.
On the other hand, some of the structural things that parents pointed out were perfectly legitimate. How can a hundred-year-old school, serving a generational community, be effectively led by careerists who are gone as soon as a better job opens up? How can a principal build a legacy and a community when the system explicitly rewards job-hopping? How can a state claim to value education when its teachers are among the worst-paid in the nation? Or as Easy Rawlins put it,
"Everyone was peein' on my head and tellin' me it was rain."
Anyways, it's been a long day, and I'm grateful to my now 402 followers for reading through to the end.
Thanks, y'all, and good night.