After a long hiatus for a 21-day Outward Bound trip at our school, philosophical and pedagogical ponderings from Vena Cava are back. While the successes, learnings, and future of Outward Bound trips as an educative experience necessary for or beneficial to all contemporary adolescents will be discussed in coming weeks, today we bring you a pedagogical technique that will put the most challenging and entitled students in their places: Cropdusting.
On backcountry trips, it’s important to be comfortable enough with bodily functions to talk about them freely, discussing whether everything is fine and dandy, or whether a trip to the doctor’s office is in order. Of course, we can’t simply stop at discussing our bowel movements – we have to create all sorts of ranking systems, ranging from letter and number grades reminiscent of climbing rating systems to the ‘Harry Potter House System.’ Amongst all of this talk normally reserved to the confines of our own minds, students feel a little bit brave and curious. One day on our trip, a student (let’s call her Angie) worked up the nerve to ask my friend and colleague Ian a question.
“Ian,” she started, “I’ve wondered about this for a long time. I think, one day in class while you were writing on the board teaching a small group of us, … well, … I think you … farted. I mean, I knew it probably wasn’t you, but I’ve wondered since then.”
“Did it sound like it came from me?” Ian asked.
“Yeah…” Angie said.
“Then it definitely was me. I fart in class all the time!” Ian responded as Angie’s eyes widened and she began to laugh.
“Don’t tell anyone about that though, it’s one of my best ways to get your classmates off of inappropriate topics.”
Angie ran off having discovered the answer to the world’s most pressing mystery: do teachers fart. I, on the other hand, had to know more.
“Wait, it’s one of your best techniques to get students off inappropriate topics?” I had to know.
“Yes! Here’s the thing, as the teacher, you enjoy ultimate anonymity. Nobody thinks the teacher is going to fart!” [And now I paraphrase]: ‘So if a kid is being mean to other kids, you just walk by the table and cropdust them. Then, blame it on the mean kid, and all the other students join in. The mean kid ceases to be mean and just tries to defend himself or blame it on someone else, to no avail. If a group is talking about inappropriate, off-topic things while you are working with other tables, just cropdust them. They’ll be all trying to blame each other and won’t get back on topic, but at least they won’t be gossiping or whatever anymore!’
Disclaimer: Cropdusting is a pedagogical technique that should be labeled as ‘Expert-Only’ terrain: be careful, you could hurt yourself out there. Mastering this fine craftsman’s technique can and should take years of practice before proper control of one’s bowels is achieved. We suggest taking lessons from an expert. Conveniently, Vena Cava will be offering webinars in The Art and Practice of Cropdusting next month, available at a cost of only $53,000,000! Because of the possibility of gaseous fumes traveling over the airwaves, spots are limited and a waiver is necessary. Sign up today!