Saturday, October 26, 2013

Igniting the Burning Schoolhouse of love

Burn, baby, burn!

When I was a kid, one truth was self-evident: every kid wished the school would burn down.

We weren't exactly roving bands of bloodthirsty teens; it was more that we viewed the building itself as a symbol of math, grammar, history, and other terrible things we'd no longer have to do if the place just went away.

Since it never did, we lived out our dreams every Victoria Day by begging our parents to buy us the Burning Schoolhouse: a piddly Roman candle placed in a cardboard, faux-brick schoolhouse. You'd light the candle ("the fireplace"), and it burst into flame as smoke poured out of the schoolhouse windows and the thing burned to the ground. What's not to love?

The whole presentation was pretty lame, so as kids watched it burn, they'd have to use their imaginations to fill in the blanks: "There goes the science lab! Better jump out the window, Mr. (teacher's name)! Guess we won't be having gym class on Monday!" As far as I know, no one ever said, "Oh, the humanity!"

Even better, it turns out that the Burning Schoolhouse is a Canadian invention and almost unknown outside of the country. According to the book, 1000 Questions About Canada, the Burning Schoolhouse was "devised and manufactured in the 1930s by Hands Fireworks Inc."

Sadly, the Burning Schoolhouse is no longer listed in the company's catalogue. Too bad, because now that I'm an adult teacher, one truth is self-evident...

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