and one more thing

Okay.  One more thing about this Beck book before I trash it into the mental junk heap.  I had a surprising “AHA” moment of “I know that one” insight.

I almost hate to mention her, because there’s nothing all that much to begrudge with her, and its a long ways from that time, and also I think some of my siblings had a reasonably good relation with her.  What you need to know about my high school Health teacher is shown in part from this inspirational cartoon and message that was plastered to her desk — the cartoon kid coming from roughly the same school of cartoons as the “Love Is” monstrosities of the 1970s — with the message “God Ain’t Made No Trash”.  Thematically this ties in with the item of “I know that one” perfectly, but in general it also offers something I always thought of her: the proscription against prayer in the public school was made for her, and that left to her duthers she would have been leading the class with the Lord’s Prayer at the start of each class.

I tend to think that there were too many videos shown through my K-12 years anyways.  I guess this comes off of two theories: one, kids learn in different manners and you have to have a panoply of techniques to reach them.  Two:  a good portion of the kids are illiterate.  (I’ll pause to allow any consideration of any possible interplay between these two concepts.)  A third works especially well for the Elementary years, which is that Elementary school teachers are in large part functioning baby sitters.

The sex education program was interesting.  That was, so far as I remember, a week of videos such that the teacher did not say anything to the class herself.  This after having our parents sign a clearance for the Sex Ed.  These classes tended to end with regular end of class apologies over inappropriate material she’ll have to screen out in the future.
One video jumped out at me as it seemed to be nothing but a sly and relatively subtle anti-abortion video — a long focus on an ultra-sound emphatically emphasizing the life of the fetus.  While overall it seemed that she was shifting through a back-catalouge of thinly disguised religious films, the sex week ended with what struck me as a “Very Special” episode of “Sweet Valley High” centered around the virtues of chasity — I base that on seeing an episode of this teenage show a year later and making such a connection, but I have never been able to verify whether I am right on that one.
I don’t really remember if there was more to this lesson plan than these stupdifying videos.  There may even have been a reasonaly legitimate second week of work-sheets.  In the end, she talked thoughtfully on the meeting with some parents over the sex ed program and their airing of concerns, which I assume may have taken place but have a hard time imagining anything substantial.

The Drug and Alcohol Awareness section of Health class was… well, there was a video about popular music references.  It was over a decade out of date.  It touched briefly on “backward masking”, but I think this was a matter of her letting the video run longer than intended, wanting to clip it down to the multitude of drug references in popular music as opposed to where Satan rears his head.  This was quite a revelation:  You know the Eric Clapton song “Cocaine”?  It’s actually about Cocaine.  Talk about a double entendre!  [pause]

We were all familar with that song as it played five times a day on the classic rock radio station.  “Slow Hands”, right?

So, from Alexander Zaitchik’s Beck book, page 208:

The web site of the church owned Deseret Book Company describes The Christmas Sweater as a “warm and poignant tale of family, faith, and forgiveness.”  This faint praise is the same cookie-cutter judgment Deseret’s in-house critics pass on every work of Mormon popular fiction to meet the genre’s rote requirements.  There are simply no subjects in this blank-eyed literary canon beyond the church approved troika of family, faith, and forgiveness.
LDS Church produced films offer more of the same.  All follow the same trajectory of cartoon tragedy to bright-light redemption with pummeling predictability.  Consider the plots of Mormonism’s most famous “fim classics”, as described in the BYU Creative Works catalouge.

The second item he lists, and “I Know that one!”

Cipher in the Snow:  When a teenage boy dies unexpectedly his math teacher is asked to notify the parents and write the obituary.  Although he was the boy’s favorite teacher, he hardly knew him.  Shy and ostracized, the boy was considered a “cipher” — an unknown number in a class roll book.  As the teacher unravels the mystery of what led to the boy’s death, he commits himself to not letting others suffer the same fate.

Adding to my original mystery about my Health teacher’s showing of this film is a second one:  I always understood her to be combing through some religious themed tracts — though this one didn’t hit me as religious in nature.  But she was Catholic.  What was she doing plucking something out of the Mormon canon?  Is there some sort of vast Ecumenical cataglouge of this type of materials?

My bigger question, and the one I had a hard time with at the time, can be fit in more current logoism:  WTF?  What — Huh — Why — Why did she show that to us?  It was a hokey Emotional Snuff film.  The kid drops dead in the opening scene as the school bus drives up, prompting the other kids to gasp “Oh My Gosh.  I think he’s dead!”  The teacher investigates and finds neglectful parents.  I don’t understand the value of a film like that.  Surely there’s a better way to approach the concerns of Depression and having a hard time getting going with school?

I can say one thing — something relatively interesting within the generally bored arena of high school which is never felt in quite the same way at any other point in life in this culture — (or maybe it is, but I’m just not really aware in elementary school).  The Culture War gets played out in some very peculiar ways, with broad attempts to hide its presence.  There was a Science teacher who gave a few out of the blue lectures / speeches which seemed to be thinly disguised slams at religious fundamentalist PTA-ers he had to deal with — but I think I may have been the only student who caught it like that.

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