Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: Bombs Away

The educator tapped his prompter and shifted holograms. The room when blue for two seconds before loading the image of a 1950’s classroom. Windows appeared with nearly authentic views of a green vista. Hardlight images popped up around the room: an archaic flag hung over the door, colorful representations of the alphabet lined the walls, and the floor was filled up with rows of uncomfortable devices consisted of four metal rods supporting a flat wooden square. A few of the educator’s pupils went directly into their Pads to look up what such furniture was called.

“Americans of the 1950’s were an emotionally coherent bunch. Take the typical classroom scene,” the educator said, sweeping an arm around the place. “Students spent hours a day in such environments, sitting at desks and completing tasks to learn and test their learning. In case of an atomic bomb attack, they were instructed to climb under the desk.”

The educator got down on all fours and climbed under the nearest one. His students stared at his age-addled backside, wobbling as he tried to position himself under furniture designed for a child. His head poked out the other end with a question.

“Question: Why would they do this?”

Liu, one of the class leaders, proffered, “Answer: Safety.”

“Nonsense. An atomic bomb would destroy the entire building. This flimsy structure wouldn’t preserve you a moment.”

Yun smirked at Liu, then proffered, “Answer: If they were on the periphery of the explosion, caught only in a debris cloud, it might shield them from flying bricks.”

“Nice rationalization, Yun, but try again.”

No one tried again. The educator climbed out from his desk and assumed a spot in their ranks. He gestured out to the see of seats.

“Imagine the bomb siren goes off. Everyone is told they will be fine if they duck under their desks. Instead of overturning the classroom and fighting amongst each other for a futile escape, each student assumes a passive position. They believe they will be safe. What American educators did was assure the last moments of children’s lives would be peaceful. They were ensuring mental well-being even in the worst possible case.”

The students nodded somberly and starred that particular bit of audio. With that much emphasis, it would probably be an exam answer.

“Now let’s skip ahead a little and see the classroom when schools tried to do away with teachers. Five points to the first one of you who answers why that failed.”


  1. You always give me reason to think. It's true. Desks wouldn't protect them anymore than a newspaper protects in a storm. Good work John.

  2. I wonder if the same logic applies to earthquakes...


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