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Wednesday
Jun262013

Dr. Scary and Mrs. Marbles - Burma

Tell me a storybook about Burma. How long were you there?

All fucking day.

No, really.

Five weeks. I was the first in and first out. Sublime.

Why did you go?

To grow. To experience a Montessori learning environment at an expensive private school. See how things worked. On the ground. Wander around. Scribble words. Make images. Meet the kind, curious, smiling people.

(Alarm bells clang)

A private school sounds dangerous. I spell uh, I smell money. Cash for kids.

Education is a busine$$. Profit before people.

Didn't you learn this lesson in 2008 for a year at St. Laurensia near Jakarta when you helped 4th graders develop social and moral character with humor and curiosity?

Private school, parents rule fool.

Yes, however I needed to see Burma for myself, analyze the management objectives and system. Connect with smiling people. Learn, laugh, grow, glow and flow with the go.

Trust and verify. That's what I say.

And you say it with clear pronunciation.

Make it new day by day make it new.

The school had 700 kids from Montessori (3-6 years young) through grade 9.

That's big money. It's a numbers game.

Yes it is. Don't ask me how much. Big.

Bigger than the infinite sky?

Almost. The financial bean counters wore out abacuses. Click-click. They'll raise tuition next year. The Burmese managing director lived happily ever after.

I love fairy tales.

He hired Dr. Scary Snobson as principal two years ago to open the facility. He had a Ph.D in Reports and Updates. He loved organization, management, forms, protocol, procedures, paper and administrative duties. Drone-head.

He recruited former Peace Corp teachers to get foreign faces and mouths in front of spoiled rich kids and parents. Marketing 101. He practiced Hathaway yoga and invested his princely salary in offshore rice paddy accounts near Burmese refugee camps bordering Thailand. He was thrilling and running scared.

Did he run for fun?

He ran in the tropical sun for sums. Kids in = count cash. Numbers numbed wealthy Burmese wallets. Pay here. Drop kid at classroom ABC. Minders/babysitters/educators in training will take care of them until you pick them up at 3. If you're late we sell them to China. A boy is worth $3,500 in a one-child Orwellian culture.

I have two boys, said a Burmese parent. Do I get a discount?

It depends on their passing a physical with Nurse Dull, said Dr. Scary. Let me ask my passive Taiwanese wife. She's very proud of her green card. She talks like her mouth's full of marbles. She believes in acquiescence.

You mean the sad-eyed, lights on-no one home, space cadet reactive one wearing the cheap floppy Chinese hat, Gloria Swanson sunglasses and magic slippers inherited from her grandmother outside the gate-less gate standing lost and forlorn Monday-Friday mornings as horrendous traffic spewed noxious hydrocarbons into faces of emotionally deprived children and struggling nanny slaves dragging children's suitcases of books and carrying cheap bright plastic baskets of food while parents, wearing diamond and imperial green jade jewelry necklaces yakked on cell phones walking their kids to classrooms in the tall gleaming metropolis of a school?

Yes. Her marble mouth machine droned her official mandatory sequence.

Park here. Drop off here. Parents ignored her.

That's her. She's his baby. Her attention span was shorter than an apology to Burmese parents of neglected children about the hidden cost of grandiose theoretical classless plans. Read the fine print. You paid suckers.

Sounds like the blind leading the blind. Where did they meet, these educational super heroes?

They mated at the Day Grow Country School in Saipan. She was head babysitter. He ran a doctoral marathon between Tainan and Rota.

What does she do in this improbable profitable scheme?

As little as possible. Yeah-Yeah is the bureaucratic stone face of the Macaroni Monti Sorry Money Story program.

She hired thirty female Myanmar university graduates for the Monti Sorry program. They signed a five-year - no option out contract - same as teachers were required in China. She and the good Doctor sold the Burmese managing director great expectations of wealth. The school paid a discounted rate of $3,500 for each teacher's training and certification program. Sublime slavery. Yeah-Yeah took her cut.

Is she a certified Monti Sorry trainer?

No. She learned the methodology in Havana ten years ago. She's not certified for anything. She's a little fish out of water.

For three months the local teachers have been training from scratch. Yeah-Yeah goes through the motions. School started on May 20th. Now it's on the job training, learning and laughing with 20 kids/three teachers per class (8 classes) plus six tedious hours on Saturday. They watch instructional videos featuring an OCD state side teacher with one student, create materials and practice lessons. They "graduate" next year after being certified by a real Monti Sorry woman in the states of confusion.

Smells like a shell game.

Teachers make $200 a month. The average Burmese makes $804 a year. A SIM card costs $300. Call collect. One-percent of the population has Internet. 26% are unemployed. 16% do not have electricity.

If local teachers are late thumbing a fingerprint after 8 a.m. in the admin office the school charges them 25 cents. Live and learn fear school.

She and Dr. Scary run and mismanage (if fear, ignorance, incompetence and greed IS management) the Great Educational Scam Machine. She reminded me of Chinese teachers in Fujian schools screaming, I only want you to bring two things to class. Your ears!

Welcome to my nightmare, said Yeah-Yeah.

She invested her princess sums in offshore rice paddy accounts near Burmese refugee camps bothering Thailand.

Why did you leave?

I'd witnessed enough of the dystopian Kafka-like suffering. The teachers' apartments resembled prison cells. I've more useful things to do with my time, energy, love and compassion.

Give me a urine sample.

Yeah-Yeah in her infinite wisdom minus kindness and compassion expected me to write a lesson plan for the Kindergarten groups experience in the library.

You're joking.

It was Friday, June 8th at exactly 1:17 p.m.

I'd taken the geniuses to the bibliotheca for thirty minutes. They found books, sat reading, looking at pictures, and sharing with friends. She wandered in and sat down.

I see you brought the kids to the library.

You are very observant.

Where's your lesson plan for the library?

You're kidding.

At 3:10 p.m. I gave seven-days notice to Dr. Scary. Here's my lesson plan. Probation is a 2-way street.

Good for you.

Yes. Life is too short for this nonsense. I shredded the truth with kids. I helped you. We helped each other grow. We walked slowly. We danced. We sang. We discovered sharing. We meditated. We had fun. Now it's time to ride my elephant through jungles back to Cambodia.

I left a sewing machine and umbrella on an operating table in the teachers' cellblock. I departed Mandalay without delay.

That's another story about creativity, independent thinking and free choice.

Yes it is. Thank you for your attention.