I can just hear the executives at Dumont now, probably the owner's son: "You know what would be clever and sexy and hip? A variety show framed in a classroom setting, with all the performers dressed like students, and featuring two of our biggest nebbishes, Arnold Stang and Wally Cox!"
In 1958, Dr. David Briggs claimed that hypnotizing his students increased their academic performance by up to 15 percent.
Reminded me of the Hypnotizing High School Principal I posted about back in October. The difference being that in the 1950s a professor hypnotizing his students was seen as a quirky but harmless experiment. But a principal who did essentially the same thing in the 21st Century got accused of contributing to the deaths of his students.
Newsweek - Apr 14, 1958
Valley Morning Star (Harlingen, Texas) - Apr 3, 1958
Down in Florida, the Sarasota County School Board has agreed to pay a settlement of $600,000 to the families of three high school students who died. One of the students was in a car accident, and the other two committed suicide. But all three had previously been hypnotized by George Kenney, the High School Principal. Kenney had been hypnotizing many students (about 75 in total) in the belief that it would help them with athletic and academic performance.
The case against Kenney is that the hypnosis may have been a causal factor in the deaths because it somehow messed up the fragile brains of the teenagers. Dr. Alan Waldman, a specialist in neuropsychiatry, testified that, "The wires that connect the neurons are still getting the fatty covering that insulates them. It doesn't stop forming till the early 20s. And they're a child's brain. That's a factor."
As far as I know, the terminology that compulsory education is a "right" continues to be used by international organizations, although it does sound vaguely Orwellian. The wikipedia page on Compulsory Education notes that the idea that children should be forced to go to school has a long history of controversy and has been criticized on the grounds that "it violates freedom and liberty" and that "it is slavery." However, pretty much every country in the world has some form of compulsory education.
"Discover how you can apply sleep learning to gain health, relaxation, confidence, personal magnetism, self mastery, memory power, success in business and human relations... learn foreign languages and how to play the piano."
Marian Morgan believed that dance could be used to enhance the instruction of just about any subject. And back in 1916, she toured the country with her six dancers, demonstrating how dance-enhanced education would work.
The basic theory was that students would pay more attention if young female dancers performed at the front of the classroom as the lecturer talked. For example, as explained by the Washington Post (Aug 20, 1916):
Picture a fat freshman dosing in the chemistry class. The day before he had said boldly, and unashamed, 'I think I'll cut that beastly class in chemistry. I don't care what those darned atoms do to each other.' The fat freshman enters the class, bored and rebellious. He remains in it sleepy and indifferent. Suddenly he starts, suppressed a yawn, stealthily arranges his tie sheepishly, combs the hair with hurried fingers.
What happened? Has Old Bones (his disrespectful nickname for the professor of chemistry) been rooting around some second-hand store and found Aladdin's lamp?
The freshman's perception, newly acute, pierces his usual mental haze. The scene is a real one and delightful. True, 'Old Bones' is continuing his discourse. He is describing the chemistry of the blood. 'But this war of atoms may be a beneficent one,' he drones. 'The presence of disease-breeding bacilli in the blood is not necessarily destructive. For there are vigilant baccilli who lay hold upon the destroyers and slay them, as you see illustrated by this dance.'
The eyes of the freshmen beam. Never have 'Old Bones'' lectures been rewarded by such rapt and flattering attention. On the platform one lithe young Amazon in short Roman tunic is struggling with another.
Too bad this never caught on. Certainly would have improved a lot of lectures I had to sit through back in my college days.
A rare case of an exciting, full-contact economics class. Rita Balaban, a senior lecturer in economics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, knew there was a school tradition of classes being disrupted by masked streakers. So when it happened to her — three masked streakers rushing into her classroom — she was "mentally prepared." She said, "To me, it was a no-brainer. It was like, you're coming right at me. This is too easy. I grab the one guy's mask and just -- pfsh! -- pulled it right off, no problem! The other guy wasn't so easy. He dragged me out into the hall." [inside higher ed]
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.
Chuck is the purveyor of News of the Weird, the syndicated column which for decades has set the gold-standard for reporting on oddities and the bizarre.
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