So, the big new innovation in education these days is quiet lunch.
Yep. This holy land has been suffering a learning crisis for upwards of 50 years now, our students more versed in the width of Kim Kardashian’s ass than the formula for determining the circumference of a circle, school teachers dropping out of the profession in droves, and Republicans squeezing the budgets of every school district from here to Alaska.
What, oh what can we do? Fear not, America, there is a solution. NPR reporter Jenny Brundin reported this morning on Weekend Edition Sunday that “there’s a growing movement nationally to have silent lunches.”
Which only reinforces my long and dearly held observation that school would be fine if it weren’t for teachers and others who’ve devoted their lives to the study of educating our youngsters.
These are people, after all, who blithely insist on using the term pedagogy when they mean teaching. One who’s spent tens of thousands of dollars earning a doctorate in education and has gone on to suffer the crushing pressures of clawing his or her way to the top in a racket that tolerates dissent and unorthodoxy only slightly less violently than Augusto Pinochet did must, I suppose, coin a patois that’s inscrutable to the rest of us who merely expect to learn things from teachers.
Anyway, these deep thinkers have of late concluded that lunchtimes in elementary and junior high schools are far too loud. Heavens to Betsy, someone even found that the typical school cafeteria around noon can be a loud as a lawn mower, although it wasn’t specified whether said mower is electric, gas-powered or a simple mechanical push contraption like my old man had when I was a kid.
I Mean, How Loud Can This Be?
Even assuming we’re talking about a mower powered by something akin to a Pratt & Whitney jumbo jet engine, so what? Put any number of kids in a big room and they’re going to produce a frightful din. That’s what kids do. That’s also a major rationale behind my long and dearly held practice of leaving any room that has two or more children in it.
The point is, I’ve devoted my life to the avoidance of physical proximity to human beings under the age of 21. Teachers and related pedagogues have not. Quite the contrary, in fact. Anybody who expects to spend an eight-hour shift with a pile of kids ought also to expect to go home with tinnitus. The American school system, alas, was based on the Prussian model which called for, among other things, orderly rows of desks and slavish obeisance. Kids for some 200 years in American schools have been expected to sit still and be quiet from 8:30 in the morning until 3:00 in the afternoon, a prospect as ludicrous as hoping the Republican legislature will do its utmost to keep school libraries stocked for the foreseeable future.
Some advocates of the quiet lunch say 45 minutes spent without squawking, prattling, shrieking, stentorian belching, and the making of fart noises by abruptly squeezing the palm against the armpit will actually make the kids learn more. Apparently, the reasoning goes, the little darlings will contemplate the mysteries of the universe or at least the formula for determining the circumference of a circle while keeping their traps shut. Which stands at a wild variance to my personal experience of thinking only of creative ways to inflict pain on all the teachers who ever ordered me to be quiet.
We’re moving at breakneck speed toward a society wherein the prime lesson to be learned in school is to be docile and malleable. That is, if we aren’t there already.
Personal to the pedagogues: Why don’t you just let the kids be kids for lunch?
What Kids Do