What Does Catatonic Mean?

The following is a transcript of a Board of Education Meeting for the Median City public school district of Median, Illinois. Taken place on August 2, 2009, on the agenda was to discuss the Fall 2009 curriculum for the incoming Median High School students for the class of 2012.

(The first twenty-five minutes of this meeting are omitted from this record, as the attending secretary had complications finding the home row keys.)

Mr.Johansen (Principal of Simpleton Elementary) addressing a previously made comment: But my God, Fairchild! Just think about what you're saying, here. With today's falling literacy abilities and suffering critical reading skills--not to mention the lack of communication and the number one fear of public speaking in this country, asking these kids to read more than two novels a year: That's ludicrous!

Mr.Fairchild (educator at Median High School): Pause. Well that may be Johansen, but it's a risk I'm simply willing to take. How do you expect answers, improved scores, and kids capable of more if we don't challenge them, and at least throw a couple of ridiculous ideas their way. After all, what are we trying to do here? Just what are our jobs: to produce a mass of mindless conformists? to create a league of followers but cultivate only a few leaders? Are we trying to produce an elect while casting the rest off as future Wal-Mart managers? How John Taylor Gatto, saying we aren't to teach these kids. How, how...nefarious!

Mr.Smith (Principal of Singles Middle School): But if we teach these kids, then we won't be the only ones to know the word "nefarious" anymore...

Mr.Johansen: It's too hard, plain and simple, Fairchild. If kids wanted to be challenged, just think about it, why would they come to school?

Fairchild: But that is nearly precisely my point! To introduce challenge back into the school course. It wasn't that long ago that To Kill A Mockingbird was nationally accredited in school curriculums.

Johansen: And it was even sooner-ago since it was finally removed. And for what reasons? Where should we start? Complex diction, inappropriate subject matter, racism--

Fairchild: -Racism! Racism is what the book is censuring! Ergo, of-course the subject matter is inappropriate. On the matter of diction, well, ninth-graders of the class of 2010 found reading it enjoyable. I see no reason why the class of 2012 will be deterred from reading it by all the big words in there, like "catatonic".

Smith: But then we won't be the only ones to know what "catatonic" means anymore...

Fairchild: And The Lord of the Flies is no epic novel either, Johansen. It's good for the kids. It teaches them about human behavior and takes a closer look at civilization--

Johansen: Cannibals! Savages! It's all about savages, and dirty little school boys running around naked on an island--explicit material! Teach children how to mutiny and hand them dangerously sharp sticks, why don't you!

Fairchild: Johansen, have you ever even read these novels?!

Johansen: Pause. I've read of them, Fairchild. I've read plenty of them.

Smith: Cliffnotes!

Johansen: Glare.

Smith: Sorry.

Fairchild: That is an egregious hypocrisy, Johnasen. I am appalled.

Smith: But then we won't be the only ones to know the word "egregious" anymore...

Fairchild: Johansen: The Call of the Wild is no formidable challenge for tenth-grade students either. And come to think of it, nor was The Secret Garden or The Education of Little Tree. As was the same for Dear Mr.Henshaw! And now that I'm really thinking about it, Johansen--really thinking about it--pray tell me just what in all of Constantine's Holy Roman Empire do you have against Encylopedia Brown?!


Smith: But what about when we won't be the only ones to know what "formidable" means anymore...

(At this point the record is ended, due to the attending secretary's need to dismiss herself to view her Soap Operas.)