Bad Idea

This is an actual email I actually received from Oldest’s Social Science teacher:

Dear Parent or guardian:

Students in our social science classes are currently studying medieval Europe.  No study of medieval Europe would be complete without analyzing the role of Christianity.  From the fall of the Roman Empire through the Renaissance, the Church played an enormous role in the lives of medieval Europeans.

In order for students to sincerely understand the role of the Church in medieval society, they will have an opportunity to participate in a unique social science simulation, which on a very limited scale will recreate the silent and solitary world of a medieval monastery.  For one period, students will give up their personal possessions (i.e. backpacks) and take a vow of silence.  During the course of this activity, students will read about the daily life of medieval monks, listen to Gregorian chants, illustrate a Latin proverb, and complete various custodial tasks.  At no time will students be reciting any prayers or simulating any religious rituals.  Furthermore, no religious organizations will be involved in any portion of this activity.

We feel that under our strict supervision, this activity will be a memorable learning experience.  As a result of his/her participation in this activity, your child should be able to:

•     Describe the daily life of a Christian monk living in medieval Europe.
•     List some of the reasons for the growth of monasticism in western Europe during the Middle Ages.
•     Explain the importance of Christianity as a unifying cultural force in medieval Europe.

If you do not choose for your child to participate in the “Vow of Silence” activity on Tuesday, February 14th, please reply to this email.  If we do not hear back from you, we will assume that your child may participate in this simulation.

Thank you,

Funny Valentine's Day Ecard: Sorry about Valentine's Day.

And this is the reply I am actually NOT sending:

Dear Teacher,

Thank you for discouraging my child from pursuing the monastic lifestyle. I was not hitherto aware that this was a risk, due to the fact that we aren’t Catholic, but I appreciate your foresight. The use of boredom to forestall any incipient monkishness is particularly masterful. As this event is to take place on St. Valentine’s Day, am I to understand that the class will also be reenacting beatings, stonings and/or beheadings? In which case, I would like to excuse my son from participating. Although if there will be a Viking Raid, I am willing to let him take his chances with the rest of his classmates. Some concessions must be made for authenticity.


Perplexed Parent


Posted on February 8, 2012, in my weird sense of humor. Bookmark the permalink. 27 Comments.

  1. Well, at least they aren’t “simulating any religious rituals!” I mean, you know, because monks taking vows of silence could never be interpreted as a religious ritual, right?

    Wow. Just . . . wow.

    I dare you to send that response. Please??? 🙂

    • I’m SO tempted to send that response, but Oldest is in middle school — well within the years when teachers can REALLY screw up the kids’ lives. So, no, I won’t send it….I don’t think they’ll handle the snark well. I do plan on talking with him about the assignment, just to see if he catches on to the “vow of silence” problem. Because now I’m worried that he’s being taught by someone who doesn’t understand her material.

  2. Sounds like some teachers just want quiet time! I can’t wait for Inquisition month!

  3. What the f? I have reread this several times and I am still unable to see the point of this exercise. Isn’t this a study period? I am so confused. Are they really going to get all the following done in one period (I assume one period isn’t the whole day).

    “During the course of this activity, students will read about the daily life of medieval monks, listen to Gregorian chants, illustrate a Latin proverb, and complete various custodial tasks.”

    Again, what the F?

    Seriously, how are you going to respond? Yea or Nay?

    • I probably won’t respond (which is assumed to be a “Yea” if I read the letter correctly) because I grew up with one of those crazy religious mothers who wouldn’t let me sit in on things like sex ed in fourth grade. What she had against me learning about menstruation, I’ll never know. Anyway, I don’t plan on putting my kids through the embarrassment of being the only child sitting out in the library.

      If this was Youngest, I would definitely be going over the teacher’s head to complain to the administration, but since Oldest is a 7th grader, I think a simple discussion of my perspective with him will be enough. I also plan on pointing out that a vow of silence is also common in Buddhist monasteries but I very much doubt the school would ok an activity which involved Buddhism.

  4. Oh how the dumbing down of our young continues!!!

    • Hate to say it, but I didn’t even learn medieval history in any significant way until college. My kids are actually acquiring more knowledge than I did, even with this nonsense.

  5. I can’t stop laughing. Oh, between this and handmadeRyanGosling, my stomach is going to hurt tomorrow. Remind me again how old Oldest is? I wish them luck keeping the kids actually quiet yet not asleep with the chanting and reading assignment. HA!

    • He’s 13, in 7th grade, and your perspective is exactly the same as Hubs. “They’re doing this with a bunch of 7th graders? Eh….wish ’em luck.”

    • Truth is stranger than fiction, because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn’t.
      — said by Mark Twain, paraphrased by me

  6. LMAO. And here we just played some game that simulated the feudal system. I really think his teacher just wants one period of peace and quiet where the kids can’t pull out their cellphones…

    … don’t feel too cocky about the monastic thing, though, one of my highschool friends is now a Buddhist nun in Nepal, and I don’t think she had *any* religious leanings in high school, never mind Buddhist ones. 😉

    • I wanted to be a nun as a kid. I was quite annoyed when I discovered that Lutherans don’t have nuns. Since I also wanted to join the army, I think the attractions in both cases were the uniform, the discipline, and the opportunity to pour sugar into Nazi tanks.

      I’m afraid to ask how they simulated the feudal system.

  7. We did that in my school when I was a kid. We even had to clean stuff. But we called it detention.

  8. Oh Sweet Jesus PLEASE tell me you actually sent that! 🙂

  9. But what about the Plague? And what about rats? Tell me they at least get to throw nightsoil out the windows. Leeches?

    • I’m assuming this is going to be an unusually clean and hygienic monastery. Now I’m tempted to send him to school with fake boils. Hmmm…..

  10. So this is an actual letter from your child’s’ teacher? Yea, bad idea! I haven’t had the pleasure of sending my kid off to let someone else educate them yet but this is so weird its scarey. I think sipping the Frangelico is as close as I want to come to living the monk’s life.

    • In my experience, kids are pretty resilient even when teachers are reenacting medieval life around them. They tend to shrug off stuff that would cause you and me to completely flip out. When my kids were young, I worried all the time about these kind of influences. Now, I try to use them as more of a learning opportunity (or an opportunity to share my values). Which doesn’t mean I don’t have a cow — I just have it in private, around other adults, then talk to the kids calmly.

  11. Sounds to me like an ingenious stab at an hour of teacher doing nothing. So they don’t talk, they read and they listen to chants? What the hell do you need “strict supervision” for THAT for? Christ. Your kid’s teacher is looking to go out tonight and not come home until the sun does.

    And kids have been getting medieval on each other since the beginning of time.

    All of this being said, it sounds quite boring. Lancing buboes, now that would be interesting. Proper chastity belt applique, that would be awesome. Drawing and quartering – hey, Zoology, Medicine, AND Religion.

    Gregorian monks. I think you should complain that they’re trying to turn your son on to homosexuality. Just to be quirky, you know, like that guy who chose not to bitch about the Teletubbies just being fucked up and instead decided that one of them must be gay.

    • I’m pretty sure it was Pat Robertson who decided Tinky Winky was gay. I just typed an explanation of that situation then decided it was much too stupid to deserve an explanation, phffft.

      I think you mean “proper chastity belt application” would be awesome. Chastity belt appliqué sounds like something I’d put on a pair of underwear. Now I kinda want a chastity belt appliqué. Hmm.

  12. Holy Shit! …Sorry, couldn’t resist that.

    I think that, in the interests of furthering your parental learning, you should install a nanny cam in the classroom to get a true understanding of the importance of Christianity a a unifying cultural force in medieval Europe. Bloody hell. I mean bloody hell was medieval Europe much of the time.

    Hah! Stupid teacher – sorry but true IMO.

    PS Now I want to see what chastity belt applique is. And you thought this wasn’t a sewing post…..

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