A ‘learning experience’

On the last night of a field trip to a state park, staffers of a Tennessee elementary school told sixth graders to hide under tables or lie on the floor to escape a gunman on the loose. A staffer disguised in a hooded sweatshirt rattled the door as though he was trying to get in. It was a fake.

Assistant Principal Don Bartch, who was present, said the scenario was intended as a learning experience and only lasted five minutes.

“We got together and discussed what we would have done in a real situation,” he said.

Parents complained.

“The children were in that room in the dark, begging for their lives, because they thought there was someone with a gun after them,” said Brandy Cole, whose son went on the trip.

Catherine Stephens, principal of Scales Elementary in Murfreesboro, issued a statement that was a classic of responsibility avoidance.

“The circumstance that occurred involved poor judgment,” (Scales Elementary Principal Catherine) Stephens said. “My hope is that we can learn from this, and in the end, it will have a positive result of growth for all of us.”

What can we learn from this? That Scales Elementary administrators have a tendency to confuse stupidity with learning.

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  1. Margaret says:

    “The circumstance that occurred” – love the passive voice. It just happened, no one is responsible…

  2. That Scales Elementary administrators have a tendency to confuse stupidity with learning.

    I think that’s a little unfair. After all, as public education administrative personnel, they’ve never had much of a reason to recognize learning.

    It could have been an honest mistake. Perhaps children trembling with terror and crying were, to the unpracticed eye of the assistant principal, thought to be learning a valuable lesson.

  3. It would be interesting (and very telling) to learn whether any of the other teachers (knowing of the “drill” or not) acted to protect the students.

  4. D. Doherty says:

    What a great idea: Scaring the daylights out of little kids. What’s next: Screaming “FIRE” in the school auditorium during a holiday pageant?

    I wonder what the hiring criteria was for the teachers and admin who did this: Mirror fogging? Pulse? Clearly intelligence and reasoning did not make the list.

  5. wahoofive says:

    The whole point of drills is to develop a set of lifesaving habits under non-panic circumstances so that they will be automatic in emergency conditions. This was the complete opposite, and definitely counterproductive.

  6. Walter E. Wallis says:

    The actors are lucky none of the kids was aware of my philosophy.

  7. If a parent did this with their child Child Protective Services would call it abusive. In general making children believe that they are about to die is emotionally abusive. The typical defense for abusive behavior is not infrequently, “I was just trying to teach her a lesson. What?!”

    I would not begrudge these parents for wanting to make a criminal (rather than civil) complaint.

  8. Richard Aubrey says:

    This could have been a tragedy, if one of the kids had had an asthma attack or fallen in panicked flight and been hurt.
    Or it could have been beneficial if some adult not in on the thing had caught the teacher playing the gunman and broken his effing neck. And then started in on the rest of the teachers.
    Ah, if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.


  1. Teachers stage fake gunman attack on sixth-graders…

    Any teacher or other educator that thinks that that was a “learning experience” should be fired, and very possibly should go to prison….