Singing the Inservice Blues on a holiday

Feb. 22, 2011 at 5:04 p.m.
Updated Feb. 21, 2011 at 8:22 p.m.

While all the kids, mailmen and folks who count our money were sleeping late on a federal holiday set aside to honor Martin Luther King Jr., teachers arose for work on a holiday advocated by teachers' unions all across our fruity plain. If you're an English teacher, you already understand the concept of irony. The rest of us could only mutter swear words as the alarm went off.

Better yet, we could have said this:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit, sed diam nonummy nibh euismod tincidunt ut laoreet dolore magna aliquam erat volutpat.

And etcetera. That's Latin for "Behold how I do carry on!" Stumped? So was I. It sort of looks Latin, but I don't think nonummy or nibh appear in any of Cicero's orations. But it appeared on the website of the day's inservice speakers, Danny Hill and Jayson Nave.

According to an advertising industry specialist, "This is some dummy copy. You're not really supposed to read this dummy copy, it is just a place holder for people who need some type to visualize what the actual copy might look like if it were real content." If you're going to use dummy copy, at least use a dummy language, like Pig Latin or Esperanto. Better yet, use inservice language, the better to enlighten teachers on the errors of their ways.

Thomas Edison and Benjamin Franklin showed up as scheduled to show how they reinvented the wheel as detailed in their book, Power of ICU, provided to all teachers. Thomas Edison, or whatever his name was, told about his baptism by fire during his first year of teaching. He had 39 students in all his classes including homeroom to make a daily roster of more than 250 students. And he LOVED it! So if you have more students than seats in your class, be thankful for all those kids to love.

A recurring theme of their book is that teachers should never record a 0 for work students don't return. After all, utility companies cut some slack for ordinary people when they don't pay their bills on time. In fact, one presenter claimed with a straight face that the electric company is not allowed to cut off your power. I gave him the benefit of doubt, but wondered if the IRS would be as indulgent toward taxpayers. Maybe we could ask Al Capone. Oops! Ol' Scarface died from syphilitic insanity. But at least he died comfortably in Alcatraz. Besides, the school district will accept my contract renewal if I turn it in a month after the due date, right?

They also expressed objections with teachers who give extra points for non-academic reasons such as not using passes to go to the restroom. I should hang my head in shame, but in fairness, I got this idea from another inservice provider, Harry Wong, as in Two Wongs Don't Make a Right. Wong also inspired me to not grade every single paper that comes across my desk. Inspiring, but not as innovative as the inservice provider that threw markers and assignments, the equity specialist at Region III with Mother Goose for the Modern Feminist, or the teacher from California who assigned hugging for homework.

While I was mulling over the cognitive dissonance of it all, it occurred to me that this could be settled with a cage match. Invite all the inservice providers and educational consultants and experts and put them in a bracketed competition, like the World Soccer Cup match every four years. Whoever comes out on top is the guy we follow for the next four years, which is the average lifespan of any given education fad. Take heart, Victoria teachers! C-Scope, too, shall pass.

By the next presidential election, another instrument will come along to stir the hearts of administrators and regional education directors.

Patrick Hubbell resides in Victoria and teaches in the Victoria school district.



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