Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Elementary School Mind Blowing
One of the highlights of any child's elementary school education are the times they load the kids up and take them on some field trip to discover some new aspects of the world. Truthfully, as an adult I cannot imagine a more stressful situation for any group of teachers tasked for such an endeavor.
During that particular early period of my life I still remember how on a first grade field trip one of my classmates got sick and starting puking at the county library and on the bus ride back to school. Since it was a "relatively" simple and short journey only two teachers were assigned to oversee our group. This miscalculation in staffing put both of them to the test as one tried to comfort the sick child, who was still doing her Linda Blair impersonation, while the other made sure the rest of us did not freak totally out. In the aftermath of the county library debacle about twenty kids in all came down with a nasty stomach bug while one of the teachers with us, a first year rookie, resigned.
While obviously messy that was not the worst field trip I remember by a long shot. Just the next year someone at my school decided that the second and third grade classes needed exposure to the arts. All things considered, it was both an honorable and amazing attempt given that we are talking about South Carolina in the early 1970's, then again given the reactionary nature of my state in 2013 it may have actually been a more enlightened time back then.
Whatever the case a Greyhound bus was chartered and after all the kids were counted about a dozen times for safety reasons we were loaded up and driven to the most beautiful city in North America, Charleston, South Carolina. I do not remember the name of the museum but I believe it was on Meeting Street and as kids can get we were very eager to get off the bus once we arrived. The problem was that we were not the only group there and had to wait a long time outside before we entered the building. We are talking about what amounted to an eternity for second graders but even that ended at some point but when we did enter the building we were stopped yet again at the foyer. By this time several of the museum employees were also overseeing all these hyper-energized kids with their patience being sorely tested.
Case in point was the huge abstract painting hanging on the opposite wall of the foyer. It was a real canvas art work and it was beyond our ability to ignore with several of us drifting over to touch it. This really bothered the museum workers to the point one of them told us that if we stared at the painting our minds would be blown. While someone only a few years older would understand the true meaning of that statement for a bunch of impatient second graders it was taken quite literally. Several of us actually started to worry our brains might explode if we looked at the painting. A sort of panic began to spread to the point that even the skeptical kids began to believe their brains might be in danger.
After a few minutes a surreal kind of riot broke out with a number of my classmates in tears. Thankfully, the bottleneck opened up and we then left the foyer to enter the main part of the museum. Like all trips it eventually ended with us boarding the bus for the ride back to the school. If I live to a hundred I will never forget seeing the dazed and tired expressions on the faces of the teachers who accompanied us, nor will I forget the small bottle they passed around.