Happy Halloween to everyone!
What a great day! Or, what a terrible day, depending on your point of view. I just read about a school superintendent who has banned all costumes and all references to Halloween from his schools. Not because of any religious or anti-religious meanings or connotations but rather because he is so worried about taking even one day away from “time on task” and teaching direct curriculum content. Wow! Good luck with that. Like the famously legendary “Papal Bull against the comet”, mandating compliance to rules running directly counter to mass popularity are really hard to enforce. No matter how much you reduce official reference to Halloween in school, you simply cannot stop the excitement or stop kids from thinking about and talking about the evening to come.
A smarter approach to Halloween, or to any holiday, is to co-opt the excitement with something equally exciting and out of the ordinary such as a school assembly. But choosing the right school assemblies for holidays can be difficult.
I remember years ago when my son was in Kindergarten. He came home all excited because they had had some kind of “spooky, Halloween magic show” at his school, and he had had a lot of fun. The next year, I had been given the job of scheduling assemblies, so I asked the teachers about the show. Sure it was fun, I was told, but it wasted a lot of time and taught the kids nothing. Fair enough. That year I brought in a Chemistry school assembly program on Halloween. The performer, in honor of the day, spiced up his normal program with references to spooky lab experiments and an impersonation of a mad scientist, all the while managing to educate the audience about the “scientific method”, the “three states of matter” and so on, all part of the normal elementary curriculum. And you know what? The exuberance of the day was satisfied, the teachers loved it, and the kids had just as much fun... but they also learned something!
Holidays are a lot of fun, and kids look forward to them. Excitement builds.
A smart school does not fight this excitement but rather channels the energy into an activity that actually uses the energy to continue teaching.
And unlike those miserable party poopers who give trick or treaters healthy snacks instead of candy, schools that thus channel the energy of excited kids into educational school assemblies do not disappoint kids, but rather accomplish the amazing balancing act of entertaining while simultaneously educating. But then, we in the school assemblies business do that every day!
Oh, by the way, today is the anniversary of the death of famous magician (or rather, famous illusionist) Harry Houdini. Mr. Houdini always claimed that if it was in any way possible to return from the dead he would find a way to do so. When you are out tonight, if you see some pale looking dude struggling to exit a straight jacket, check closely... it might just be the ghost of Harry Houdini!
Geoff Beauchamp is the Regional Manager of Mobile Ed Productions where "Education Through Entertainment" has been the guiding principal since 1979. Mobile Ed Productions produces and markets quality educational school assembly programs in the fields of science, history, writing, astronomy, natural science, mathematics, character issues and a variety of other curriculum based areas. In addition, Mr. Beauchamp is a professional actor with 30 years of experience in film, television and on stage. He created and still performs occasionally in Mobile Ed's THE LIVING LINCOLN.