Fifty years in the future…..


“Good morning, boys and girls!”

“Good morning, Ms. Brightly!”

“Sit right down and let’s get started.  Open your Pearson Math books to page 232.”  Ms. Brightly smiles at the ten year olds in front of her.  “So we have already reviewed multi-digit division and multiplication and division with decimals. And, gosh, its only October! Move into your small math groups and take the next ten minutes to read the lesson about finding the volume of irregular solids.  Go!!”

The kids move around the room, settling in with their groups. There is some chatter, but everyone knows that they only have a short time to learn the material, and pretty soon they begin to read the book together.  Ms. Brightly circles the room, stopping to confer with some of the groups and to explain the information to others.

After ten minutes, the sound of a bell is heard and the kids move back to their seats, giggling and chatting as they go. Ms. Brightly turns on her Microsoft Smartboard and demonstrates how to find the volume of an irregular solid.  She adjusts her Microsoft Biometrics bracelet and glances up toward the camera in the corner of the classroom.  She begins speaking a little more quickly.

After demonstrating two more problems, Ms. Brightly turns back to the classroom.  “OK!  Now you have ten minutes to practice by yourselves!”  The kids touch the Microsoft screens embedded in their desks and begin to work.  Ms. Brightly circles the room continually, explaining and encouraging.  She kneels next to one desk for a conference.  Although the teacher speaks quietly and gently, the student is clearly struggling and her responses become increasingly shrill.  Soon it becomes clear that the little girl is fighting back tears.  “But I don’t GET it!” she wails.   Ms. Brightly begins to explain again, but the classroom door suddenly opens, and a tall woman enters, wearing a “Pearson Advisor” badge on her sweater.   “I’ll take over.”, she states firmly.  Ms. Brightly watches quietly as the sobbing child is escorted from the classroom.

The rest of the math lesson passes in silence.

Another bell sounds, and Ms. Brightly sighs with relief, then quickly glances at the Biometrics band on her wrist.  The flashing number shows her that her pulse is too high to meet the Common Health Expectations Standards (“CHEST”).  She tries some yoga breathing as she moves into the “Pearson Reading Area”.

“OK!” she begins, turning her smile on the children in front of her.  “Come on up for a mini-lesson on how to use meaningful dialogue to advance a story along the story arc!”   The kids get up and stretch, and then  move slowly toward the front of the classroom, where they gather  in a circle under the McGraw Hill Biometric Reading Comprehension Dome.  Ms. Brightly sits in the teacher chair, and a series of pale yellow Led Lights begin to blink in the dome.

Ms. Brightly taps her tablet and a hologram of a story appears in the center of the circle. A smiling man begins to wave at the children.  Before the story begins, though, a little hand shoots up.  Ms. Brightly smiles.  She loves it when the kids show some enthusiasm for the lessons!  Her Biometrics band gives a little chirp of delight.  “Yes, Michael?”

“Ms. Brightly, can we read a real story today?”

“What do you mean by a “real” story, honey?”

“Well, at home I have a book that has kids doing really cool things like killing monsters and…..”

Ms. Brightly interrupts. “That kind of book isn’t appropriate for school, Michael.”

“Why?”

Ms. Brightly tries to think fast.  She’s pretty sure that her classroom door is going to pop open again if this keeps us.

“Yeah, why?” Asks another little voice.  All 70 eyes gaze up at her as Ms. Brightly reaches for a firm and clear response.  “The stories that we read in school are written to meet the Standards.  They teach us exactly how to craft our own narratives….”

“Yeah, but they kinda suck.”  A series of giggles erupts and the Dome lights turn a dark red.

“Michael!”

“These stories are boring. Nothing ever happens.”

“These stories follow the correct story arc. They have a clear beginning, middle and end.”

“But they’re all exactly alike!”

Ms. Brightly gulps. They are all exactly alike.  She hears the sound of footsteps approaching rapidly down the hall.  The Dome lights are now glowing a brilliant orange/red and her Biometrics band is humming a warning.   She doesn’t know what to do.  By now the kids have begun to chatter, calling out the names of forbidden stories and talking about the authors.

One little voice calls out a question. “Why are the stories at home so much more fun?”

As the sound of the opening door reaches her ears, Ms. Brightly knows that her brief teaching career is over.  She unsnaps her Biometric band and drops it to the floor.

“Those books are more exciting, boys and girls because they were all written by……” She looks into each eager face, leans in to be as close to them as she can be for this last moment. “……..HOMESCHOOLERS.”

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15 responses to this post.

  1. Funny and sad yet again. There certainly is a lot more freedom on the homeschool side of the fence (in some states and some countries). And since I wear both the public school and homeschool hats I think I can say that your assessment of what’s coming is fair… but maybe you should have included NSA cameras and Google guards.

    Reply

    • Ooooh, wish I had thought of those! Next installment…..

      I actually said to one of those obnoxious trainers last week, “Fifty years from now all of our art and all of our literature will be created by people lucky enough to have escaped a public education.”
      Then I cried…..

      Reply

  2. Posted by Zorba on February 18, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    Why am I hearing echoes of “Brave New World”?
    Stick them all into the same slots. Produce robots. Forget about creativity or independent thought, or G*d forbid, that square peg who won’t fit into the round hole.
    {{Sigh}}

    Reply

    • Indeed. “Brave New World” and “1984”. With perhaps a dash of “Animal Farm”.
      Sad, sad, sad…..

      Reply

      • Yes, all of the above.
        This country is trying very hard to produce, not critical, creative thinkers, but “good” (unthinking) workers and consumers, who will unquestioningly take whatever the Powers That Be sling at them.

  3. Posted by Rachel on March 4, 2014 at 10:05 am

    Toward the end of the scene, all I could think of was “Fahrenheit 451”! I am prepping to have my 11th grade English class read it (which means I am reading it for the first time). What a well-written and terrifying book! I can’t wait to do some good old read-and-discuss with my students about the relevance of Bradbury’s story to current education trends.

    Reply

  4. Posted by neanderthal100 on March 4, 2014 at 11:46 am

    How creative!!!
    You must add another chapter…then another…then enough for a book.

    This creative suspense had me glued to this Toshiba..

    Reminded me of the Dome in the Hunger Games.

    I am ready for the next chapter of Eduform Games…:-)

    Reply

  5. Posted by Miya on March 12, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    It’s interesting that your story has a clear beginning, middle, and end and advances the story along with meaningful dialog…

    Reply

    • Oh, my God. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I am going to try this with my kids starting this week. More importantly, I am tears thinking that parents believe in what we are doing……..
      Thank you.

      Reply

      • You are oh, so much more than merely “welcome”. There are not words to say what I feel about what you do.

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