Observing the goings on at last night’s Board of Education meeting I was struck by the rigid hierarchical nature of school administration and its insistence on prompt obedience. At the last meeting I attended, our new school supervisor William McKersie opened by mentioning that a yellow packet of materials had been distributed, and then instructed everyone in the audience to “hold them up, so I can see that you all got one.” Wow – he told them to do it and at least half the audience; adults, presumably successful, accomplished individuals, dutifully raised their packets high.
Last night he did it again. Ascending the podium, Dr. McKersie cleared his throat and said in a deep, sonorous voice, “Good Evening”. No response. He paused, then repeated “Good Eveeennning”. And by golly, this time almost three-quarters of the audience boomed back, “good evening.” Even allowing for half the chanters just being polite, that’s a huge Pavlovian response to authority. This stuff has a life-long affect on some people; for the rest of us, it just serves as a reminder of why we so hated school.
(By the way, is there some reason female PTA members feel it necessary to go in pairs to the microphone, even when only one of them will speak (read a prepared speech, actually)? I know girls do that when they head off to the bathroom, but at public meetings too? Just asking.)