Good ol' Career Day

Mike Dunford’s post the other day reminded me of an event a few years ago.

I am married to a 4th grade teacher in southern California. Each year I do two days of “career day” for a total of around 600 kids from Kindergarden through 5th grade. I bring stone tools, and deer bones to pass around, and it is great fun.

I don’t teach archaeology to the kids- I talk about what archaeologists do for a living. Career day is supposed to show kids about different careers- thats why it is called Career Day. I also show them gadgets like a GPS, maps, etc… I also carry around a 500 page thick CRM report that nobody ever bothered to read.

This school might be exceptional, I don’t know. Most of the presenters hang out together in the teacher lounge between sessions (actually that is where we have to stay). While we are there, we get to compare notes and just talk to folks in jobs we rarely get to meet. I have chatted with rock band guitar players, federal judges, M.D.s, chemists, cops, television camermen and “performance” artists all at the same table in the teachers lounge of an elementry school. I look forward to it every year. (One teacher’s family adds a lot to the mix- he brings in three of his brothers, a judge, and an MD, and a producer, plus he leans on them for referrals).

Once a few years ago, this fellow was invited to also present. His name tag said, “Mike *****, Preacher.” I first noticed him because he wouldn’t return a smile. Then I read his name tag, and I thought maybe this isn’t the argument I need today.

He didn’t come to tell kids about being a preacher, he came to preach. And because he had seen my name tag, “Dr. Gary Hurd, Archaeologist,” Preacher Mike (*Made Up Name* if you are out there) determined that he had to preach the evils of Satanist archaeology and ‘evilution’. Several teachers became very concerned, and some students among those that had liked the bones I had showed them and so on, became actually worried that they would go to Hell.

The Assistant Principal came and asked me if I was teaching about the “age of the Earth” or “the origin of life.” I pointed out that neither of these were questions relevant to archaeology which was totally focused on humans and their nearest relations. Plus, Career Day is about telling kids about what your job is (mine was learning about cultures from their material remains and teaching). The AP next asked if I had heard of “Teaching the controversy.” I was now a bit PO’ed, and I said, “Well, I don’t know about “teaching the freaking controversy,” but I do know how to teach the freaking State of California Department of Education curriculum guidelines, and if you want to talk about that I will.” Now, bear in mind that I had met this guy (the AP) several times at career days, at retirement parties, and such. He was a nice guy, but I was totally ready to jump on him. I had carefully avoiding anything not in the state curriculum for those grade levels. (As I was also Education Director of a natural history museum with several thousand school visits per year, I was very dang expert on exactly what the state curriculum guidelines ‘required,’ err ‘suggested’).

I found out weeks later (when the AP and I were out fishing- plus the even more signifigant executive- the head custodian) that “Preacher Mike” had insisted that if the “Evilutionist archaeologist” had been allowed to “preach Satanism” (ie evilution, and ancient (>6k years) Earth) this nitwit’s ‘obligation’ was to try and save the souls of these poor, poor children. End the end, he was tossed off campus because he refused to agree to just talk about his job, and to stop trying to counter the “Satanist message” that existed only in his twisted imagination.

But, let’s consider that twisted imagination. Mike the Preacher believes in a conspiracy against God, inspired by Satan, that has control of the American schools. This Satanist conspiracy has as its agents all scientists and teachers who are actively trying to corrupt innocent children through public education. The fact that Preacher Mike was tossed out of Career Day only reinforced his paranoid delusion.