Monday, April 21, 2008

School -- 1957 vs. 2007

This is from another one of those emails that circulate and land in our inboxes, but it does tell a story of how things have changed in the last 50 years or so. Were things so different back then? Were we so different back then? Personally, I think things were different back then. More innocent maybe, or maybe more naive back then. We had violence back then, but it wasn't "in our faces" with the news media like it is now. Read on:

Scenario: Jack goes quail hunting before school, pulls into school parking lot with shotgun in gun rack.
1957 - Vice Principal comes over, looks at Jack's shotgun, goes to his car and gets his shotgun to show Jack.
2007 - School goes into lock down, FBI called, Jack hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counsellors called in for traumatized students and teachers.

Scenario: Johnny and Mark get into a fistfight after school.
1957 - Crowd gathers Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up buddies.
2007 - Police called, SWAT team arrives, arrests Johnny and Mark. Charge them with assault, both expelled even though Johnny started it.

Scenario: Jeffrey won't be still in class, disrupts other students.
1957 - Jeffrey sent to office and given a good paddling by the Principal Returns to class, sits still and does not disrupt class again.
2007 - Jeffrey given huge doses of Ritalin. Becomes a zombie. Tested for ADD. School gets extra money from state because Jeffrey has a disability.

Scenario: Billy breaks a window in his neighbour's car and his Dad gives him a whipping with his belt.
1957 - Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college, and becomes a successful businessman.
2007 - Billy's dad is arrested for child abuse. Billy r emoved to foster care and joins a gang. State psychologist tells Billy's sister that she remembers being abused herself and their dad goes to prison. Billy's mom has affair with psychologist.

Scenario: Mark gets a headache and takes some aspirin to school.
1957 - Mark shares aspirin with Principal out on the smoking dock.
2007 - Police called, Mark expelled from school for drug violations. Car searched for drugs and weapons.

Scenario: Pedro fails high school English.
1957 - Pedro goes to summer school, passes English, goes to college.
2007 - Pedro's cause is taken up by state. Newspaper articles appear nationally explaining that teaching English as a requirement for graduation is racist. ACLU files class action lawsuit against state school system and Pedro's English teacher. English banned from core curriculum. Pedro given diploma anyway but ends up mowing lawns for a living because he cannot speak English.

Scenario: Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers from 4th of July, puts them in a model airplane paint bottle, blows up a red ant bed.
1957 - Ants die.
2007 - BATF, Homeland Security, FBI called. Johnny charged with domestic terrorism, FBI investigates parents, siblings removed from home, computers confiscated, Johnny's Dad goes on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.

Scenario: Johnny falls while running during recess and scrapes his knee. He is found crying by his teacher, Mary. Mary hugs him to comfort him.
1957 - In a short time, Johnny feels better and goes on playing.
2007 - Mary is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces 3 years in State Prison. Johnny undergoes 5 years of therapy.

I can remember things like those listed above happening back when I was a kid in school. But I also remember worse things. When I was in high school in the early 60's, I remember something being thrown off the cafeteria roof into the quad area below that exploded. No one was hurt, luckily. The boys who threw the "bomb" were expelled, and we heard a rumor that they had been transferred to another school. I remember a fight between one caucasian boy and a group of latino boys that broke out in an area between classrooms. It was fully visible from the art classroom where I was. One boy got shot. He was back in school a week or so later, and so were most of the other boys who were involved in the fight. I remember going to a football game one Friday night, and after the game, we (my friends and I) went over to the lockers inside the school to pick up a book that was needed for homework that was due on Monday, but had been forgotten in the rush to go home from school. On the way to the lockers, my friends and I found sort of a bomb taped to the window of the science lab. We went back out front to the telephone booth and called the police. Naturally we, being the "good citizens" we were, waited for the cops so we could show them where we found the bomb. Which meant that we were late getting home from the football game. I got grounded for that one.. My Step-dad took the keys to my car away from me for a month. We never did hear anything more about it. It wasn't even in the newspaper the next day!

But, life went on. We didn't hear about it for days and days as the media analyzed what happened, we didn't hear interviews of the kid's parents, siblings, grandparents, neighbors, etc. What is my point? I guess it's that the reactions to events like those listed in that email are different now. Reactions to events like those I remember from my high school are different now. We're not so "innocent" or "naive" now. We're on overload from the things we see reported in the newspapers and on the news shows on TV. I'm sure I'm not the only one that can remember things from back then... Think about it...

No comments: