Old School

 

I grew up in a simpler time, no doubt about it, in a peaceful suburb far enough from Los Angeles that people kept horses and you could really believe that there were a thousand oaks in a town called Thousand Oaks. Kids could roam the neighborhood without a thought, moms stayed home, dads provided, all that stuff of days gone by. Yet in my first two years of high school, 1973 and 1974, I experienced both a school shooting and mind-boggling leftist overreach.

In my sophomore English class, I had one of those cool teachers who found creative ways to teach and was beloved by the students. Well, most students. There was one kid in our class who always seemed to be a problem, and we mostly just wished he’d shut up. One day, he was really getting into it with the teacher. He got up from his desk, confronted the teacher at the front of the classroom, and was starting to storm out when … the teacher took a gun from his desk, raised it, and shot that kid. Our classmate fell out into the hallway, and the door swung closed behind him.

We sat in stunned silence for a moment. Then the door opened, our classmate returned, and the teacher gave us our assignment to write about what had just happened to test our powers of observation.

So unthinkable was a classroom shooting in those days that I think we all kinda knew, even before the door opened, that things weren’t as they seemed. Today, you’d need trauma counselors if a teacher tried that, which of course a teacher would never. But we had a good laugh, acknowledged that they had us going there for a while, and wrote our essays.

Then there was my freshman government class, taught by a teacher who certainly considered himself cool, with his long hair and his bell-bottoms and his politics. His idea of creative teaching was to have us re-enact the Watergate hearings—and not in an impartial, how-government-works kind of way but a gleefully vindictive kind of way. I was assigned the role of Rose Mary Woods and questioned aggressively as to whether I was having an affair with the president. It was ridiculous and frustrating, but at least the class only lasted a semester.

My family was staunchly Republican, and I think the town was too, and I can’t imagine why no parent questioned the appropriateness of this course of study. I’m sure I griped about it at home. The teacher was perhaps not long for that school, but if there were blowups at school board meetings, I didn’t hear about it.

It’s unimaginable now that a teacher would stage a shooting as a writing prompt, but it’s all too imaginable that a teacher would bring politics into the classroom for less-than-educational purposes. If a teacher somewhere in this great nation isn’t re-enacting January 6 hearings with high-school freshmen—or, heck, kindergartners, who would put it past them?—I’d be very surprised. To whatever poor kids have to submit themselves to mock congressional grilling, I recommend my response from all those years ago: just keep repeating “I don’t know! How would I know that? This is stupid!” until the bell rings.

Published in Education
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  1. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Terri Mauro: I recommend my response from all those years ago: just keep repeating “I don’t know! How would I know that? This is stupid!” until the bell rings.

    I feel the same way when I get survey questionnaires asking me, “How likely would you be to recommend Acme Anvil Inc. to your friends?”

    I have no idea how likely, and am not interested in thinking about it.  It’s a stupid question.  I discard the questionnaire and move on to something else.

    • #1
  2. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    Terri Mauro:

    There was one kid in our class who always seemed to be a problem, and we mostly just wished he’d shut up. One day, he was really getting into it with the teacher. He got up from his desk, confronted the teacher at the front of the classroom, and was starting to storm out when … the teacher took a gun from his desk, raised it, and shot that kid. Our classmate fell out into the hallway, and the door swung closed behind him.

    We sat in stunned silence for a moment. Then the door opened, our classmate returned, and the teacher gave us our assignment to write about what had just happened to test our powers of observation.

    Holy crap that’s awesome!  Wow…

    • #2
  3. MWD B612 "Dawg" Member
    MWD B612 "Dawg"
    @danok1

    Terri Mauro:

    There was one kid in our class who always seemed to be a problem, and we mostly just wished he’d shut up. One day, he was really getting into it with the teacher. He got up from his desk, confronted the teacher at the front of the classroom, and was starting to storm out when … the teacher took a gun from his desk, raised it, and shot that kid. Our classmate fell out into the hallway, and the door swung closed behind him.

    We sat in stunned silence for a moment. Then the door opened, our classmate returned, and the teacher gave us our assignment to write about what had just happened to test our powers of observation.

    We had a scenario like that when I went through the Air Force SP Academy, though it involved a husband & wife. The exercise was to show us how unreliable eyewitness testimony is; all of our written summarizations were different, and none matched the videotape the instructor took.

    Can’t imagine it being done in a regular school though.

    • #3
  4. Charlotte Member
    Charlotte
    @Charlotte

    Terri Mauro: One day, he was really getting into it with the teacher. He got up from his desk, confronted the teacher at the front of the classroom, and was starting to storm out when … the teacher took a gun from his desk, raised it, and shot that kid. Our classmate fell out into the hallway, and the door swung closed behind him.

    The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there. 

    • #4
  5. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    I graduated from a high school close to TO in 1972. 

    • #5
  6. Terri Mauro Coolidge
    Terri Mauro
    @TerriMauro

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):

    I graduated from a high school close to TO in 1972.

    I was TOHS Class of 1977. What town were you in?

    • #6
  7. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    Terri Mauro (View Comment):

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):

    I graduated from a high school close to TO in 1972.

    I was TOHS Class of 1977. What town were you in?

    Simi. Royal.

    • #7
  8. Terri Mauro Coolidge
    Terri Mauro
    @TerriMauro

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):

    Terri Mauro (View Comment):

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):

    I graduated from a high school close to TO in 1972.

    I was TOHS Class of 1977. What town were you in?

    Simi. Royal.

    Think we used to compete against you in choir competitions. And maybe sports too, but not so much my thing.

    • #8
  9. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Terri Mauro (View Comment):

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):

    Terri Mauro (View Comment):

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):

    I graduated from a high school close to TO in 1972.

    I was TOHS Class of 1977. What town were you in?

    Simi. Royal.

    Think we used to compete against you in choir competitions. And maybe sports too, but not so much my thing.

    I heard that the rivalry was pretty rough and that the ’74 chorale season left a Royal tenor paralyzed from the larynx down. 

    • #9
  10. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Terri Mauro: He got up from his desk, confronted the teacher at the front of the classroom, and was starting to storm out when … the teacher took a gun from his desk, raised it, and shot that kid. Our classmate fell out into the hallway, and the door swung closed behind him.

    Lucky no one shot him.

    • #10
  11. Terri Mauro Coolidge
    Terri Mauro
    @TerriMauro

    TBA (View Comment):

    Terri Mauro (View Comment):

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):

    Terri Mauro (View Comment):

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):

    I graduated from a high school close to TO in 1972.

    I was TOHS Class of 1977. What town were you in?

    Simi. Royal.

    Think we used to compete against you in choir competitions. And maybe sports too, but not so much my thing.

    I heard that the rivalry was pretty rough and that the ’74 chorale season left a Royal tenor paralyzed from the larynx down.

    It was cutthroat alright.

    • #11
  12. Retail Lawyer Member
    Retail Lawyer
    @RetailLawyer

    The gun story reminded me of Evidence Class (Law School) in the 90s:  The professor ran into the class in a panic shouting that he was being attacked, followed by an attacker.  They both ran out of the class by a different door.  I was afraid the professor, an elderly and portly gentleman, was going to have a heart attack.

    But it was an exercise in eye witness testimony – what the students recalled about the event.  

    • #12
  13. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    Terri Mauro (View Comment):

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):

    Terri Mauro (View Comment):

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):

    I graduated from a high school close to TO in 1972.

    I was TOHS Class of 1977. What town were you in?

    Simi. Royal.

    Think we used to compete against you in choir competitions. And maybe sports too, but not so much my thing.

    I am probably making my last visit to Ventura County next week.  My brothers and I are burying our Father’s remains in the Simi “pioneer cemetery.”  Might take few hours to drive around town and  check out some of the old “stomping grounds.”  I expect it to be more bitter than sweet.  

    • #13
  14. JuliaBach Coolidge
    JuliaBach
    @JuliaBach

    I live in Thousand Oaks now and it is still a pretty Republican area, for California, and a fairly safe good place to raise kids, for California.  Of course, I send my child to a private school, but that’s because the state mandates for public schools are so terrible, and because the CVUSD school board has changed from being eminently reasonable to well, not reasonable.  I was raised in Washington State and also had some teachers that were excellent but others that included “object lessons” or other curriculum that looking back I feel was inappropriate, or just stupid.  Or both.  The difference from today was that I still felt like I got a fairly decent education.   I had an English teacher that constantly made dumb comments about the Persian Gulf “War for Oil” but he also taught us pretty much everything we needed to know about Shakespeare, and had us read at least half a dozen of his plays.  I had another English teacher that put the American flag on the floor and dared us to stand on it and tell her how we felt about it, made us write protest environmentalist letters to The Dow Corporation, but also had us read Ayn Rand and Julius Caesar.  I feel like too many kids today are getting the activism, but not the actual learning.  That’s why the parents are rising up when they didn’t in the past.

    • #14
  15. Terri Mauro Coolidge
    Terri Mauro
    @TerriMauro

    JuliaBach (View Comment):
    I live in Thousand Oaks now and it is still a pretty Republican area, for California, and a fairly safe good place to raise kids, for California.

    Glad to hear that. I’m in New Jersey now and haven’t been back since my mom passed in 2001, but I remember it so fondly as a great place to grow up. 

      the CVUSD school board has changed from being eminently reasonable to well, not reasonable.

    Is the Timber School District no more? Got a kick out of going to schools named after trees.

    • #15
  16. JuliaBach Coolidge
    JuliaBach
    @JuliaBach

    Terri Mauro (View Comment):

    JuliaBach (View Comment):
    I live in Thousand Oaks now and it is still a pretty Republican area, for California, and a fairly safe good place to raise kids, for California.

    Glad to hear that. I’m in New Jersey now and haven’t been back since my mom passed in 2001, but I remember it so fondly as a great place to grow up.

    the CVUSD school board has changed from being eminently reasonable to well, not reasonable.

    Is the Timber School District no more? Got a kick out of going to schools named after trees.

    Interesting.  Never heard of the Timber School District, but I’ve only been here since 2015. That makes sense with a lot of the school names! Sequoia, Redwood…

    • #16
  17. Terri Mauro Coolidge
    Terri Mauro
    @TerriMauro

    JuliaBach (View Comment):

    Interesting.  Never heard of the Timber School District, but I’ve only been here since 2015. That makes sense with a lot of the school names! Sequoia, Redwood…

    I think Timber was the district for the (then) new subdivisions on one side of Moorpark, and the schools in the older area on the other side were in a different district and weren’t trees. Proud graduate of Acacia and Redwood here.

    • #17
  18. Cow Girl Thatcher
    Cow Girl
    @CowGirl

    @terrimauro and @juliabach

    Hi there to both of you! It was my privilege to live in Ventura County from 1989–1996. My husband worked at Pt. Mugu Naval Air Station and we lived in Port Hueneme. I miss it still! Two of my children graduated from Hueneme High School, and I finally got my college degree finished and graduated from Cal State Northridge. 

    We lived less than a mile from the beach, and it was a personal rule that I would go and look at the ocean every day. Some days, I’d ride my bike down there, early. Some days I’d only get a chance to drive past it in my car, and pause for a long sigh and deep inhale of the scent. 

    We drove around the whole area on his motorcycle–TO, Simi, Moorpark, etc. Then…he got transferred to the East Coast–blah. But we’re in Las Vegas now, and we head down to Ventura County several times a year to enjoy it again. 

    Having been a teacher for 25 years, I can’t imagine that scenario ever happening!!  And, as for that teacher who put the flag on the floor–I’d have snatched it back up even if it meant being sent to the office! 

     

    • #18
  19. Terri Mauro Coolidge
    Terri Mauro
    @TerriMauro

    Cow Girl (View Comment):
    My husband worked at Pt. Mugu Naval Air Station and we lived in Port Hueneme. I miss it still! Two of my children graduated from Hueneme High School, and I finally got my college degree finished and graduated from Cal State Northridge. 

    I think my family had a beach house in Port Hueneme or thereabouts for a few summers in the ’60s. And my sister worked for many years at Cal State Northridge. My own college experience was up the highway a ways in Santa Barbara. Made many trips back and forth over the Conejo Grade through Camarillo and Oxnard and up the coast.

    Enjoying this little Ventura County reunion, @cowgirl @juliabach @daveschmidt ! Closest I get to contact with the old hometown these days is the “I Grew Up in Thousand Oaks” Facebook page.

    • #19
  20. JuliaBach Coolidge
    JuliaBach
    @JuliaBach

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):

    Terri Mauro (View Comment):

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):

    Terri Mauro (View Comment):

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):

    I graduated from a high school close to TO in 1972.

    I was TOHS Class of 1977. What town were you in?

    Simi. Royal.

    Think we used to compete against you in choir competitions. And maybe sports too, but not so much my thing.

    I am probably making my last visit to Ventura County next week. My brothers and I are burying our Father’s remains in the Simi “pioneer cemetery.” Might take few hours to drive around town and check out some of the old “stomping grounds.” I expect it to be more bitter than sweet.

    May God comfort you in your loss.  I hope your trip goes well.

    • #20
  21. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    JuliaBach (View Comment):

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):

    Terri Mauro (View Comment):

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):

    Terri Mauro (View Comment):

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):

    I graduated from a high school close to TO in 1972.

    I was TOHS Class of 1977. What town were you in?

    Simi. Royal.

    Think we used to compete against you in choir competitions. And maybe sports too, but not so much my thing.

    I am probably making my last visit to Ventura County next week. My brothers and I are burying our Father’s remains in the Simi “pioneer cemetery.” Might take few hours to drive around town and check out some of the old “stomping grounds.” I expect it to be more bitter than sweet.

    May God comfort you in your loss. I hope your trip goes well.

    Thank you.  

    • #21
  22. Cow Girl Thatcher
    Cow Girl
    @CowGirl

    Terri Mauro (View Comment):

    Cow Girl (View Comment):
    My husband worked at Pt. Mugu Naval Air Station and we lived in Port Hueneme. I miss it still! Two of my children graduated from Hueneme High School, and I finally got my college degree finished and graduated from Cal State Northridge.

    I think my family had a beach house in Port Hueneme or thereabouts for a few summers in the ’60s. And my sister worked for many years at Cal State Northridge. My own college experience was up the highway a ways in Santa Barbara. Made many trips back and forth over the Conejo Grade through Camarillo and Oxnard and up the coast.

    Enjoying this little Ventura County reunion, @ cowgirl @ juliabach @ daveschmidt ! Closest I get to contact with the old hometown these days is the “I Grew Up in Thousand Oaks” Facebook page.

    When I lived there, there was only an extension of Cal State in Ventura. I ended up with Oxnard College, Ventura College, UC Santa Barbara and Cal State Northridge on my transcript. I drove up to UCSB one semester to get a class I couldn’t get in Ventura. The Conejo Grade is a good drive! I drove down to Northridge for one fall semester, too–three days a week. That January, we woke up one morning with the Northridge Quake! I’m so glad it was a holiday Monday (MLK Day) and that parking garage was not filled with student cars and students.

     

    • #22
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