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November 19, 2004
Another Great Moment In Education (UK Edition)

When Robin Williams taught his students the principle of carpe diem in The Dead Poets Society, he did so through impassioned speeches about truth and beauty, as well as an unhealthy dose of rebellion. When an unnamed teacher at a Manchester high school tried inspiring her students to seize the day, she evoked Bruce Willis' Armageddon instead of anything inspirational, and wound up scaring the hell out of a bunch of teenagers:

A schoolteacher, attempting to motivate her pupils into making the most of each day, told them a meteorite was about to smash into the Earth and that they should all return home to say goodbye to their families. ...

The unnamed female teacher made the announcement to around 250 pupils at St Matthew's Roman Catholic High School during their regular morning assembly.

Saying she had bad news, the teacher announced that a meteor would strike the Earth in 10 days' time, and that they should return home and say their "final farewells" to their parents.

After the crowd of 13- and 14-year-olds looked on in horror, and many burst into tears, the teacher swiftly explained that she was only trying to encourage them to "seize the day".

I suppose it may be a bit difficult to come up with inspiring new methods of teaching the same old truths, but telling a group of teenagers that they're all going to die in 10 days just seems like a bad idea in more than one way. Besides the initial fright and panic, just how did this teacher presume that hormonal teenagers would seize the ten days left that they had to live? Presumably, they would not spend them in libraries, pondering the words of dead poets and sniffing flowers along the way.

I don't know if dismissal is in order for this stupidity. Maybe the school administration should tell her that since her doctors have informed the school that she's dying of a terminal illness and only has a few months left to live, she'd be happier spending the little time she has left seizing the day -- elsewhere.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 19, 2004 6:02 AM

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