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Chapter 9 White’s Law of Reciprocity

White’s Law of Reciprocity

Superintendent White was the second biggest dog in the pack that was Senior Admin of the Granite District School Board. Only the Director of Education was more Alpha than him But the position of Director kept changing hands. In the past few years the job had passed between Carl Holzbein, who had run off to British Columbia with an elementary teacher at least half his age, Angela Testaverdi, who had more or less been run out of town by the Trustees for suggesting that country kids weren’t getting the same opportunities as those in Granite City and Gilles Crapaud who had been running things for a few years now. Or so it seemed.

The reality was that White was running things as he always had. Sure the Director got the good office, the nice car and the bigger golden parachute when his time was up. But the Director’s position had become a lot like being the Governor General. You went to cocktail parties; you made appearances at important fund-raisers and you cut ribbons at important openings of new schools; well, you would if there were new schools to open.

Director Crapaud had arrived from Toronto. The Trustees, in a surprise move, had gone outside the GDSB for its current director. That had rubbed a few noses the wrong way. When a new director is named from inside the GDSB, a lot of people get bumped up the career ladder. If the director was a superintendent, then a principal is made superintendent, a vice principal is made principal and a department head is made vice principal. But when the Trustees go to another board for the new director, all that career bumping goes on in the other board.

Now don’t feel bad for Angela Testaverdi. When they run a Director out of town, they do it nice and gently. She got to keep her BMW, she and her husband got to go to two “conferences” in Las Vegas and Bermuda and she got a nice retirement gratuity. So don’t feel sorry for her. Could the Board afford all this? They just took it out of the French grant. After Testaverdi the next in line was Superintendent White. Now he would have to wait it out until Director Crapaud left and Crapaud was younger than he was. But Superintendent White wasn’t going to wait quietly.

He had to put his stamp on a lot of innovative programs that would call attention to him and make it clear in the minds of the Trustees that he was the chosen one, the crown prince.

A few years ago it was the dog plan. It worked like this. Put a big happy friendly dog in every Guidance Department in the Board. Students walk in with their problems and the first thing to greet them is a big goofy smile, a wet tongue and a whole big coat of fur just waiting to be petted. Who would care about their worries after that? And what a beautiful photo op. White next to a cute 15 year-old girl and an even cuter dog. That would make the first page of the Granite City Gazette-Times. And it did. Mind you anyone looking at it was going to pay attention to the girl or the dog and ignore Superintendent White, but the people who really counted would see him there and know who was responsible for the good PR.

Meleesa Cook walked slowly one day on her way to Guidance. She didn’t usually go to Guidance. It wasn’t because she didn’t have problems she could discuss with a counsellor. She didn’t feel right talking about her shyness with a stranger. But she was bursting inside. There was this boy that she liked, really liked. He didn’t seem to know she existed. She could talk to her mother about him, but what did her mother know about boys? She could talk to her father, but what did her father know about anything? Some of her friends went to Guidance when they had problems. Some of the girls at her school had a new problem every week and spent more time in Guidance than they did in class. She wasn’t friends with any of those girls though.

The cameras and reporters weren’t around when Meleesa, who was feeling a little more nervous than usual entered Guidance and was surprised to have a black lab jumping up on her. What was a dog doing at school? She didn’t like dogs, even the quiet ones. And this one wasn’t quiet at all. He was big and very excitable. An outsider might have said that here was one big ol’ friendly dog with a big ol’ wagging tail. Meleesa didn’t see it that way though. She saw paws as big as her face and a tail that could knock her right over. She screamed, the dog got excited and did knock her over, she screamed some more, the dog got more excited and you know that the only place this vicious circle is going to go is where she runs out of the room in tears and the dog pisses all over the floor.

Bad boy.

Mr. Cook phoned the school as soon as he heard about the incident and demanded to know what the fuck the school was doing using dogs as guidance counsellors. Had they gone nuts? What idiot had thought that one up? Why can’t schools just do what they’re supposed to do? He was going to go to the press and see what they had to say about girls being attacked by school board dogs.

Bunny managed to calm him down and avoided the bad publicity but that was in end of the dogs in Guidance at LBSS. The program continued for quite some time at the schools in Granite City were perhaps dogs and 15 year old girls are less excitable.

Next came the obesity initiative. It hadn’t been his idea. The idea had apparently come from the phys ed head at Lord Byron, but he was quick to jump on the band wagon. When the idea proved popular, Tanker had been pushed aside and replaced with a more pliable newby. The obesity initiative brought in a lot of positive press and enquiries from other boards. Like most things in education it didn’t run long enough for there to be any measurable results. But of course that didn’t stop the Board from claiming victory before shutting down the program. Students who had lost weight were paraded in front of the camera. It was never really clear if it had been because of the program, in spite of program or the result of something altogether divorced of the program. In education you take credit for anything that appears to work and blame others for everything else. The most extreme case was the kid who had lost 48 pounds due to chemotherapy who was shown to the press as one of the success stories. They threw a baseball cap on his head to cover his lack of hair. Anything for good press.

But the obesity initiative was a cow that could only be milked so much.

So last year Phil White went looking for a way to hit the ball out of the park. He needed something big and bold. Something that would bring lots of positive press, would be associated directly with his name and would have all the appearances of being pedagogically innovative. After thumbing through some educational journals, Superintendent White came upon a brochure from the Colorado Institute of Learning. It was bright and glossy. It had colour pictures of good-looking, smiling students from racial diverse backgrounds having fun while learning. It promised great results. It seemed almost too good to be true.

So Superintendent White called the toll-free number and was impressed when it was Ken Smith himself who answered the phone. According to the brochure Ken Smith was a guru of evaluation. It was Smith who had invented the concept of Potential intelligence. And, for a small fee, he was willing to share the results of his research.

Superintendent White explained to Smith that he was looking for innovation, that he wanted to make a statement that would have a lasting impression and that he wanted to take the Granite District School Board in an entirely new direction.

Smith said that he had found his man. White had hardly put the phone down when there in front of him was the man himself, wearing a broad smile and a stetson hat. He had apparently got the first plane out of Colorado. Mrs Oliver, Superintendent White’s secretary showed him to a chair and set down herself. White wanted a written report of the negotiations.

You bettya. We can put something together for you all. Our philosophy is that it’s not how smart you are that counts. It’s how smart you look.”

I don’t get it”

Are you the smartest person in the Board?”

Probably not.” White forced himself to be humble.

So why are you number two in all the Board?”

White thought about answering honestly. He was where he was today because he had kissed all the right ass, play golf-a really stupid game- with all the right people; because he knew how to take credit for the work of others. He had gotten drunk with the most boring people in the world, called them all by stupid nicknames and allowed them to do the same to him. He joined every committee going and lived by the rule of three meetings. It stated that if you had three places to be at the same time, you used each one as a reason to not be at the others and just went home early. It didn’t matter that you went to the meetings-nothing was ever accomplished at them anyway. It mattered that you had your name on the paper that the committee eventually would write. He had coached the right sports too. The ones like football that got plenty of good press. And here it mattered that you knew what you were doing, for it is a widely held believe that leaders come from the coaching ranks. Artsy-fartsy English teachers don’t make good leaders. Jocks do.

Number two in the Board” how he hated being called that. Number two was the first loser. The silver medal is just a piece of jewellery. He was smarter than Crapaud and all the ones before him. He certainly worked harder than Crapaud. Hell, even the little statue of Buddha on his desk worked harder than Crapaud.

You’re where you are in the Board ‘coz they’ll think you look smart. Don’t matter chicken’s teeth iffen y’are. Just so long as you look it. Now y’all listen up and I’ll explain how everything works. It ain’t rocket science, y’know.”

You seem more like you’re from Texas than Colorado.”

Oh yeah, that. Well y’all gotta understand that it might be called the Colorado Institute of Learning, but it’s located in Littletown, Texas.”

Why not call it the Texas Institute of Learning?”

Well y’all gotta understand that recent research has shown that people don’t associate ‘Texas’ with education very much any more. I dunno why that is. Colorado sounds a lot better. Any way lemme tell y’all about our research.”

Go on, then.”

Lemme tell all about P I Q.”

P I Q?”

Potential Intelligence Quotient. We judge students not by how smart they are, but how smart they look. Successful people look smart, whether they are or not. Y’all want to go to a doctor who hems and hawls. Even if he knows what he’s doing, he don’t make you feel confident. Who are the best politicians? The best bankers? The best lawyers?. As I say to my wife all the time: It’s not the meat, it’s the motion, baby!” And with that he slapped his knee.

Go on”

Y’all want success in life for your students?”


Y’all want your schools to be the best in the country?”


y’all want your parents to be happy with the job that the school system is doing?”


Y’all want to be number one?”


Well, then lemme show y’all a couple of forms to fill out and we’ll git ya on your way to tomorrow. Now, y’ all will excuse me a moment.” he said as he walked out of the office. As soon as he was alone, Education Guru Ed Smith took out his cell phone and made a brief call: “Edwina, it worked like a charm. He bought it all, hook, line and sinker. It’s been a pleasure doing business with y’all. Got any other potential customers, like Phil here?”

About twenty minutes and $100,000 later, the Granite District School Board was on its way to the education nirvana that the Colorado Institute of Learning was promising. Now you might ask if a superintendent can just spend $100 000 like that without checking with the Director and the Trustees. Well he might not have the authority; but he does certainly have the ability. Neither the Director nor the Trustees were really watching what he did, so he did as he pleased.

After that followed a lot of training sessions for senior management, so they could get their minds around the idea that the kid who worked hard, did homework faithfully, studied for tests and handed assignments in on time was now the new delinquent of the school system. These training sessions couldn’t happen at the Learning Centre. The Learning Centre was full of offices and busy people running from point A to point Z. Anyway the Colorado Institute of Learning had a number of clients, mostly in the US and was running sessions almost constantly. Not in Colorado, mind you, or Texas. Hawaii seemed like a more appropriate place.

After Crapaud and White and their girlfriends or wives or whatever came back from being in-serviced in Hawaii, their assistants who also went to Hawaii, rented space in the best hotel in Granite City and trained the Principals and Vice-Principals. Now you might wonder how the Board Office became the Learning Centre at a cost of $3 million in renovations, which they didn’t take out of the French grant this time and yet there’s no space for Principals and Vice Principals to meet. You might wonder that and if you’re a tax payer in the area controlled by the Granite District School Board, you might want to phone someone in authority and demand an answer. Good luck with that.

Phoning the Learning Centre is an adventure and by ‘adventure’ I mean something you would do if you decided that your life was too good, you were too happy and you needed to feel like the majority of people who live miserable lives. If you enjoy frustration, please go ahead and attempt to connect with the appropriate person at the Learning Centre. First you’ll get a menu. Not a menu like in a fancy restaurant. You get a very mechanical sounding woman, who is on at least half of all phones in North America. Let’s call her Betty. I think you already know Betty. The first choice Betty will give you is press one for English and two for French. Why you are given that choice by the GDSB who by definition is an English language school board isn’t clear. Some Trustee obviously thought it was important for national unity. Perhaps Gilles Ducheppe and other Bloquistes have changed their entire view of English Canada knowing that the GDSB offers phone frustration in both official languages.

Now Betty will ask you if you know the extension of the person who you are calling. Of course you don’t. If you did, you would have dialled it. Don’t try arguing with Betty on this point. You won’t win. Next she will suggest that you punch in the first three letters of the person’s name. Of course the phone isn’t really good for spelling as each number has at least three letters. But Betty doesn’t give up easily. She’ll guess away until you find a familiar name or you give up. Betty must be hard of hearing because she says “I’m sorry I didn’t hear your selection.” an awful lot. Betty will also promise that you can talk to a real person any time you want. Don’t believe her. Of course you don’t know who to talk to. It’s not like there’s a Superintendent of Complaints. If you do get through to someone’s extension, they won’t be there. No it’s true. They are never there. Or at least they have taken a vow to never answer a ringing phone. You will be invited to leave a message in the voice mail box. But since they never answer their phone, their voice mail box is full. And you are kicked back to Betty who repeats “Thank you for calling the Granite District School Board. Press one for English et composez le numéro 2 pour service en français.” So there you are. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

You wanted to know why there isn’t room for meetings at the new and improved Learning Centre. The answer you would get, if you actually found someone to ask and this someone was prepared to tell you would be that there is in fact room at the Learning Centre, but that it’s nice to get out once in a while and hotels in Granite City are a good deal compared to those in the big city.


Principal Bunny loved the concept of Potential Intelligence. He thought that he would have done a whole lot better at school if he had been evaluated along Potential Intelligence lines. Bunny dressed well, spoke well and came across as a charismatic guy. If you can if fact be charismatic and at the same time afraid of people. In school, and especially at university he didn’t make every class or meet every deadline. It had had no effect whatsoever in his ability to do his job. Randy Doyle felt a little different about rewarding the lazy kids and penalizing the hard working ones. Doyle had always worked hard at school and on the job. He thought that so called ‘charming’ people got a free ride and this was just going to add to it. Why shouldn’t deadlines count? Why should kids get away with cheating or plagiarizing? Yet all this was part of Potential Intelligence. Oh well, he thought, at least I won’t be the one that has to sell it to the staff. Doyle looked forward to watching Bunny explain all this to the staff.

One of the students who should have benefited from Potential Intelligence was Jordan White, Phil’s second son. He could be best described by two expressions: gifted athlete and complete dink. As well as being middle line on the senior football team, Jordan played open side flanker on the school rugby team and was a champion wrestler. He had athletic ability to spare. As a linebacker he seemed to be a part of every tackle. There was a rage about him that on the football field or rugby pitch was directed and focused. He scored more points on interceptions than the team’s receivers did . When the team lost as it always did, the joke was that the defence hadn’t managed to score enough points. And by defence everyone meant Jordan. His coaches loved him, not because of who he was but what he could do for the team. Well most of his coaches loved him; his wrestling coach was a little afraid of him and was always glad when his bout was over and no one was hurt. Jordan was always on the edge and Coach Gillingham’s biggest fear that he would one day go too far and injure his opponent.

It’s hard to say what made Jordan a complete dink, assuming of course that dinks are made and not born. All the attention paid to him as an athlete since the age of six had certainly gone to his head. But there are a lot of gifted athletes who are humble, polite and friendly individuals. No one had ever accused Jordan of being humble or polite or even friendly. So it could have been that what made him the dink that he was, well was the fact that at school he got away with murder. Every teacher and every Principal that he ever had had realized early on who his father was. Even before he made Superintendent, it was very apparent that he was in the express line to promotion and it would be wise not to cross him.

Jordan had been recruited by several football programs, Queen’s, Ottawa U, Acadia among others. And by the University of Western Ontario. The Western football program had won six Vanier Cups and looked like a good bet for the next few years to come. Western was far and away his first choice. These days university players have to be good athletes and good students. Nowhere was this more true than at Western.

Problem was Jordan was not a good student. None of his teachers thought that he was smart and he spent so much time out of class-time he couldn’t afford to miss- that he never got good marks. And that was going to be a problem because as much as the football program at Western wanted him, he still needed to be accepted by the university admissions office. And his current marks weren’t going to do the job.

But what was the point of being Superintendent, if you couldn’t get your kid into the university of his choice? Years ago, when White wasn’t Superintendent White, not even Principal White just biology teacher White, the then Director of Education had come to White one parents’ night and asked what he had against his daughter, why he was giving her such low marks, why he wanted to ruin her life. White had been trying for several years to get into Administration. He was trying so hard that it had become a joke among his colleagues. They called him Brown nose White. There wasn’t a committee he wouldn’t join, including Status of Women and Aboriginal Education, even though as a black male, he was neither woman nor aboriginal. Even the Interdisciplinary Curriculum Initiatives. He never even found out what that committee did.

The Director’s daughter’s marks took a quick turn upwards and so did White’s career. The next year he was Vice-Principal at Chevalier.

Superintendent White didn’t see where things had changed. Jordan needed help in English and Biology. The other four marks weren’t going to be a problem. There were enough light courses on offer to give him a good average. Mrs Witherforce , his English teacher, was easy enough to influence. It only took one complaint to Bunny about a couple of essay marks. Could she justify such a low mark? Could he have them reassessed by another English teacher. When Witherforce heard of all this from Bunny, she could see the writing on the wall and just changed the marks upwards. She had always wanted to be in Administration.

Biology was another matter. He had Perkins for senior biology. Perkins had been around the block once or twice. He had seen all the games being played. He had seen the kind of people selected for Admin and he didn’t care what they did to him. They couldn’t touch him.

He gets the marks he earns. Like everyone else in my class.”

But he looks smart.”

And I look rich!” which he didn’t unless dishevelled is the new chic.

Things could get a little hot around here.” Bunny said without much conviction. He felt awkward about the whole thing. But White was good at putting pressure on his underlings. Bunny wasn’t the type to stand up to White or anyone else for that matter. Bunny liked being in charge of a school; he liked having an office; he liked the way people listened to what he had to say; but he really wasn’t a people person. At least not a people-with-a-complaint person. He wanted mostly just to be left alone. He really didn’t like dealing with all those problems that the students caused. Give them a punishment and the first thing they do as soon as they’re out of the office is phone their parents and start getting out of it. Sometimes they wouldn’t even wait to be out of his office. Take a firm stand with the parents and they just go over your head to the Board. If Bunny was afraid of students, the Board was even more afraid of parents. They always gave in to them. So what was the point? Bunny was really only happy being Principal when he wasn’t at the school.

What exactly are you saying?”

I think you understand me perfectly. Either the mark improves or…”

Or what? Is that a threat?”

Let me finish. Either the mark improves or White will be on my back.”

Is that my problem? What is White going to do to me?

Do you really want to find out?”

Yeah, you know. I think it might be kind of fun to see where he goes with this.” Perkins was enjoying himself. “Tell him if he wants results he is going to have to talk to me personally.”

Come on. Don’t make it worse than it is.”

Worse for me or worse for you?”

The new day Mrs. P. informed Perkins that he had an appointment with Superintendent White.


Four o’clock Tuesday.”

Tell him I can’t make it. My mom is sick right now and I’m spending all my free time looking after her. Ask him to come here.”

Oh I’m sorry. I didn’t know.”

I’d like to keep it quiet.” Perkins was a bit of a military history buff and he knew that the General who picked the good ground usually won the battle.

Sure enough, Tuesday at four o’clock White was there. Perkins was paged to come to the office. He phoned down instead and said he couldn’t leave the room as he was in the middle of setting up a lab and had a number of specimens about.

Begrudgingly, Superintendent White walked up to the second floor biology lab. The ripe smell of formaldehyde greeted him at the door. Throughout the room were fifteen or so dead cats waiting for dissection. Dressed in his old dirty lab coat, Perkins looked up from his front desk.

Ah, Superintendent White, how are you?” Perkins wondered if it was going to be the carrot or the stick

His eyes started to sting. “Please call me Phil.” So it was going to be the carrot to start. “We need to talk about Jordan’s progress.”

Oh, is Jordan your son? I didn’t realize.” Perkins lied. “Well it’s pretty easy to discuss his progress. There hasn’t been any. He started the semester slow and hasn’t changed.”

Do you check homework very often?” White has looking for something to blame on the teacher.

No, they’re in grade twelve. They’re almost adults and no one is going to make them do their homework next year. But he doesn’t appear to do it very often. Do you check his homework at home?” Perkins deflected the blame back.

He’s very busy with football right now.”

Too busy to come in at lunch for extra help?”

There’s football meetings at lunch.”

His choice. He gets the mark he earns.”

How can we make this problem go away?”

Well.” Perkins paused a moment before going on. “I’d like to go away to Montreal over the holidays. Stay at the Queen Elizabeth at Board expense.”

That can be arranged. And my son gets an A?”

Hold on. I’m not done. And I want a different hooker every night. Also at Board expense.”

White looked at him for a good minute. “You’re serious, aren’t you?”

Damn right I’m serious. If this got out, it could ruin my career.”

I don’t know how we can arrange that. I mean it’s not like they take credit cards.”

The upscale ones do. Just get me your Board credit card and I’ll take care of the rest.”

And for all that my son gets an A.” Half question half statement.

A plus.” And offered him his hand


Pleasure doing business with you.” With that Superintendent White left the room. A minute later Barovsky walked in and” was surprised by the formaldehyde and the cats.

You’re not leaving these cats out overnight, are you?”

I’m at the dentist tomorrow first thing. I’m showing a movie. Help me put these cats back in storage.” Said Perkins as he walked over to a camcorder attached to a tripod and shut the machine off. “Say do you know anything about posting to Youtube?”


Chapter Six: God and a Good Game Plan

God and a Good Game Plan

The weekly Coaches’ meetings were moved to the bar at the Legion. For no particular reason. But when you’re the Head Coach of senior football you can get away with stuff. When you’re the Head Coach who’s been recruited away from another school, well, you can get away with anything. As long as you deliver, that is.

The bar at Legion 509 was the only place to drink in Byronville. Well, if you don’t count people’s decks, living rooms, docks, bedrooms and in the case of a few with,… shall we say …a healthy appetite for alcohol, the shower. Okay let’s say it was the only place in town with a liquor license. Even so it was a pretty dead place. Even the portrait of the Queen hanging above the shuffle board seemed bored. Most days you’d walk in and you’d be all by yourself. Old Norm would be behind the bar. And if you wanted conversation, it came down to a choice between talking to the Queen or waking Old Norm up.

Old Norm was called that because his son was also Norm. So the son was Young Norm and the father was Old Norm. Young Norm was in his fifties or so, Old Norm was considerably older. Being retired since before anyone could remember, tending the bar at the Legion was his way of keeping active. Sort of. Usually he would sit at a chair behind the bar and more often than not he would drift into a deep sleep. The story was he spent his nights at the retirement home in Happy Valley chasing skirts. But that might have just been a rumour. Most people didn’t want to disturb Old Norm so they’d just go behind the bar, get whatever it was that they wanted, leave the money in the till-Old Norm kept it open-and go back to their seats. Some of the nicer customers even left Old Norm a tip. It was an arrangement that seemed to work.

The several Coaches who made up the Coaching Staff of L.B.S.S. had all got their drinks and were ready to get down to it.

“Before we start,” started Head Coach Kidd “Did you all see the email from Bunny? We need to raise the profile of the team. We need to get some press coverage. Anybody have any connections with the local media?”

“I taught Mrs. Nothelfer who writes for the South Missachewopa Herald.” answered Coach Brock.

“Good. Get her in here and let’s start changing the public’s image of the team.” Kidd felt that there was no point in doing anything if nobody noticed you doing it.

“Alright, let’s start with the reports.” barked Coach Johnson, who wanted to get ‘this damn meeting’ over and get home. “Who’s first?” he asked as he looked around the table. “How about you, Jimbo?” Coach Jim “Jimbo” Taylor stood up and began to speak: “The O-line is looking real good this year. We have a lot of returning veterans. And I’m sure we can get the job done.” It was hard to say which stank more, the beer spilt over decades into the legion carpet or the insincerity in Jimbo’s voice. Maybe for other teams, having returning veterans was a good thing. But for the Byronville Bengals returning veterans meant another year of the same old shit.

At the other end of the table, Head Coach Travis Kidd nodded ever so slightly. It wasn’t clear to any of

the Coaches there if it was a nod of approval. “Thanks, Jimbo.” said the Head Coach “What about you, John Boy?” Receivers Coach Bill Johnson was always called John Boy. The present Coaching staff had forgotten why.

“Things are A-OK. The boys can slant, fade, hook…”

“But can they catch?” Barked Head Coach Kidd. It wasn’t meant as a joke. When the laughter died down Johnson tried to continue. He was interrupted a second time.

“Enough of this crap!” interjected Kidd. “We’re just spinning our wheels here. We need to make a bold move forward. We need to change the culture of losing. We need to shift the para…para…para..What’s the word?”

“Paradigm.” answered John Boy.

“How’s that spelled?” asked Coach Brock, also known as Moose.

“P-a-r-a-d-i-g-m.” answered John Boy.

“I would have spelled it p-a-r-a-d-i-m-e. Why is there a ‘g’ in it?” Above them the Queen continued to look unimpressed.

“Would you guys stop? Lemme start again. We need to stop spinning our wheels. We need to boldly move forward. We need to change the culture of losing. We need to shift the paradigm. We need God!”

“I beg your pardon.”

“That’s right . God. Like at all the successful NCAA teams. They’re always praying. Praying in the locker room before the game. Praying on the field. Hell, for all I know they’re praying in the shower It seems that God is on the side of every team in the Big Ten.”

“Not Notre Dame. Did you see them play State last week? Didn’t see where God cared if they won or not. They even tried a hail Mary, but State intercepted and ran it back for a touchdown. You’d think if

God was on any team’s side it would be Notre Dame”

“Why would God care who wins a football game?” Moose’s interjection was not welcomed by Head Coach Kidd. “He must care. Those NCAA programs play some serious ball. They won’t waste their time praying if it didn’t bring results.”

“But if he cared, wouldn’t the Saints win all the time?” Moose wouldn’t let it go.

“Good point.” said Jimbo

“Wait a minute. What if the Saints are playing the Cardinals? John Boy jumped in.

“Or the Padres?” added Jimbo.

“The Padres? Are you for real?”

“What’s wrong with the Padres?” Jimbo defended himself.

“The Padres are baseball.” answered John Boy with an air of contempt.

“Doesn’t God care about baseball?” countered Jimbo

“Nobody cares about baseball. Besides why would God care about a baseball team playing a football team?”

“Well, technically the Padres could be playing the Cardinals.” said Moose

“I bet he hates the Lions. Didn’t they used to feed Christians to the lions?”

“That was a long time ago. I don’t think God still cares.”

“Shut up! Just shut the fuck up!” Head Coach Kidd couldn’t take it any longer.” I don’t care if God cares or not! Just as long as this God thing works. We need some prayers. Anybody got any prayers?’

“Like what?”

“Like, well you know. Prayers. Religious” he searched for the word “ religious poems.”

“No, they’re not poems.” said Jimbo.

“Yeah, they don’t rhyme.” added Moose.

“Well, what would’ya call them?” asked Head Coach Kidd.

“Religious, religious…sayings.” said John Boy

“Sayings’s a good word.” said Moose

“Okay, whatever we call them…you got any?”

“Well, I used to say ‘Now I lay me down to sleep.’ said Jimbo

“I mean tough prayers. Manly prayers. Football prayers. Somebody must have one.”

A chorus of ‘no’, ‘sorry’ ‘I don’t think so’ followed.

“What, don’t you ladies go to church?” Head Coach Kidd was getting frustrated.

“Not any more.” said of the three assistant Coaches.

“Never did.” said another.

“They closed my church a while ago. Apparently nobody was going.” said the third.

Kicking Coach Igor Ibrahimovich, who had been quiet up until now, spoke up. He had come to Byronville at the age of ten during the Bosnian war. The United Church had sponsored his family back when the church still had members. His mother was a Croat and his father a Bosnian Muslim. In Sarajevo his mother had been a doctor and his father a lawyer. Here in Canada both worked at Tim Hortons.

Iggy spoke up: “I’m a Muslim. Do you want one of ours?”

“God, no!” responded Head Coach Kidd. “”I meant a real Canadian prayer.”

“Maybe we could take one of Iggy’s and take the Muslim bits out.”

“That might work.”

“Good idea. Iggy, you and Moose get together and rework that Muslim thing until there’s no Muslim bits. While you’re at it take the God parts out too. There’s no point in offending anyone.”

“So you want a prayer without any reference to God?”

“Maybe we could substitute something else for God”

“Like what?”

“I dunno. Victory? Glory? Something.”

“Keep the stuff about winning and giving a hundred and ten percent. You know blood, sweat and tears and all that. And have it ready for next week. We’re playing the Crusaders. Our boys are going to need a lot of help”

“I’m going to need a beer.” said Iggy. Above the shuffle board, the Queen looked away.


Ryan walked into the staffroom in a huff. “I don’t get it. I just don’t get it.”

Time to change girlfriends then.” intoned Roberts who always thought he was funnier than he was.

What don’t you get?” asked a more sympathetic Mrs. Templeton.

Kids. They’re all enthusiastic about the environment when they’re in class. But when it comes time to put your money where you’re mouth is, they bail.”

What do you mean?”

I called a meeting of the environmental club and nobody showed up.”

We have an environmental club?” asked Roberts

No, but I was trying to start one. Those same kids when they’re in public school do everything they can to help the environment. Why do they stop when they get to high school.” It was true. Go into any public school and you will find all sorts of wonderful recycling programs. But high school is a different matter.

Kids in high school have a lot more pressure. They have to be popular; they have to be cool; they have to fit in. You make the environment cool and you’ve got it made. But if the club is full of nerds and geeks, and you’ll never get the cool kids.” Mrs. Templeton spoke with great authority.

How do I get the cool kids?”

Well for one thing don’t try to be cool. A teacher, even one just out of school like you, has no idea what is currently cool. Remember when Perkins tried being one of them, Boris?”

Do I remember? I remember we were all embarrassed by him. When he started here he told all the kids to call with Ed.”

Yeah, and before long they started calling him Mr Ed.”

Who’s telling this story, Vera?” sometimes Barovsky and Mrs. T sounded like an old married couple.

What’s wrong with being called Mr. Ed?”

Oh you are young, aren’t you? Mr. Ed was a talking horse.”

A talking horse?”

A sixties sit com.”

Oh, I see.

He wore tie-dye and flowered bell-bottoms. They might have been cool when he was in school, but they were definitely passé by the time he got in front of a class.”

And he started telling them to use their real language in class. You know, things like rad and grotty tothe max and a bunch of things that nobody ever really said. Well that didn’t last long. Pretty soon he went from trying to be warm and fuzzy to mean and surly.”

And he’s still pretty surly today.”

King of conspiracies.”

Master of machination.”

Hey, I’ll bet he sees a snake in every grass.” said Barovsky.

A stalker behind every bush” said Mrs. T.

A chicken in every pot.” said Roberts.

What?” said the two senior teachers simultaneously

Roberts looked sheepishly around then said: “I don’t know what that means. It just something my grandmother always says.”

To get back to the question at hand, if you want kids to come out to meetings, you need to do two things. You need to get a couple of leaders on side from the beginning, they’ll bring others and you need to feed them.”

Feed them?”

Feed them. They’re teenagers. But they might as well be trained seals. Get them to do a trick and then throw them a fish.”


It was a beautiful early fall kind of day. The hills that surrounded the school and the football field were bathed in sunlight. The leaves on the trees which covered those hills had started to change into their fall outfits. A slight wind was darting playfully through the leaves. It was almost a serene moment. The junior football team was gone for an exhibition game against a team from the big city. The field hockey girls had their own exhibition at home against Chevalier. Today they weren’t wearing the frumpy track suits they normally wore for practise. They were wearing their kilts. Strangely the senior boys were not allowing themselves to be distracted by these skirts. Instead they were gathered in circles, all kneeling, facing inwardly. They were busy learning their new ‘prayers.’

My loud voice is not proof of the depth of my knowledge.” Coach Johnson especially liked to hear Scottie recite that one. “An empty pot makes more noise when you hit it than a full one.”

They are four things which do not come back: the spoken word, the shot arrow, the past life and the lost opportunity.” “If I am good, I will be better,” “I am hard on myself, easy on others.”, “The heaviest burden is placed on those who can carry the weight.”

The Herold reporter, Mrs. Nothelfer, arrived notepad in hand; camera on shoulder. “Mr. Brock, it certainly has been a long time. Still coaching, I see. And what is it that you wanted to show me?”

We have a new look football squad. The losing teams of the past are history. This season we have a dedicated group of team players working toward one common goal: the success of the team.”

How would you define success this year, Coach? Winning the county? Making the playoffs? What, for example, was your record last year?”

He answered sheepishly: “0 and 6.”

So should I put down ‘winning a game’?” Mrs. Nothelfer was a nice enough lady, but she hadn’t really like Coach Brock as a teacher.

No, we are aiming at the county championship and even beyond.” Coach Brock knew whatever he said would get back to Head Coach Kidd.

How can you go from 0 and 6 to winning a county championship?” she paused “Realistically?”

We are a whole new team. We’ve got a new look, a new plan, a new leader and a bunch of returning veterans.”

So you’re a new team with the same old players?”

You’re twisting my words.”

No, not at all. Just prove to me that things will be different. A lot of my readers are big fans of high school football and they are very tired of losing season after losing season.”

Coach Brock nervously looked around while he thought of something else to say. The boys were still on one knee reciting the pearls of wisdom that had been passed to them by Coach Ibrahimovich.

The boys have found God.”


Oh, yeah. Have a listen.” And he invited her to move closer to the kneeling players.

Today is mine. I will not waste it”

The most excellent Jihad is that for the conquest of the self.”

I don’t know if I would use that last one. The word Jihad scares a lot of people.” she said. “If I were you. How about a picture?”

Sure, when will this be in the paper?” he asked as he posed for the camera.

No, sorry. I meant of the team at prayer.”


Ryan planned the second meeting of the environmental club for a couple of weeks. He needed to pick the right food to attract students to his crusade. A barbecue with hot dogs and hamburgers would attract a big crowd, but red meat caused all sorts of environmental problems. The amazonian rainforest was being raped so that cattle could graze where once mighty trees stood. Strictly speaking, tofu would be the best choice. But these were country kids, tofu would scare half of them away. He could do giant pots of whole wheat spaghetti. But without the use of the kitchen, spaghetti would be complicated to say nothing about messy. Submarine sandwiches would be popular but they carried the subtext of support for war at sea. Perhaps he needed a little subterfuge instead of submarines. He’d do the barbecue but the burgers would be veggie and the dogs tofu. With recent improvements in vegetarian cuisine and enough condiments no one would be the wiser. Now it was just a question of finding the money to pay for it.

He went to Vice-Principal Doyle to ask his advice. It turned out to be a smart move. Doyle acknowledged that it was an honourable idea but also one that Bunny would never support. Unless he couched it in terms of something Bunny liked. And what did Bunny like? Football. He could tell Bunny it was for a pre-game meal for the team. But that would be a lie. He could tell Bunny it was for a fan rally and those fans could also be environmental club members. That might work. Doyle suggested just going ahead and order the food and give the bill to Bunny. If Bunny questioned it, tell him that he had approved it last month and asked if he didn’t remember. Chances were good that Bunny wouldn’t question anything.

So the day was picked; the food was ordered and announcements were made. Come to the first meeting slash Barbecue of the environmental club. Free burgers and hot dogs and free exchange of ideas. Ryan ignored the fact that this was actually the second meeting of the environment club. He justified that little lie by claiming to himself that the first one didn’t count because there was no one there.

Now any preacher with a soup kitchen knows that you give the sermon before you feed them the soup. It’s not complicated. But I guess human psychology wasn’t a required course in the environmental studies program that Ryan had completed. It never occurred to him that he had to give his little environmental talk before he handed out the burgers. His naïveté is somewhat refreshing, but only somewhat. 79 kids showed up for the free food, including ones like Kieran Van Hoven and Scottie Van Doornedorp both of whom wouldn’t have an environmental bone between them. 2 kids stayed for the meeting. Poor Ryan. Someone was going to have to tell him.


Hilda Beauregard was only too happy to see the coverage of the Bengals at prayer in the latest edition of the South Missachewopa News. As the president of the local chapter of the Fundamentalist League of Christian Voters, she was concerned about the lack of Christianity in schools. She phoned all concerned to congratulate them on having the courage to bring God back to public schools. Head Coach Kidd accepted her kind words and invited her to attend the home opener. And yes, they expected their sincere faith in God would manifest itself on the score board. She reached Principal Bunny by phone, which in itself should be considered some kind of miracle. He didn’t know what she was talking about. But he was used to that and quite good at playing along without giving anything away. Mrs. Beauregard also reached Trustee Lindenhauser. Hilda Beauregard and Fiona Lindenhauser had a lot in common. At least in appearance. Both had greying hair which they wore in a bun. Both wore long skirts and practical shoes. Philosophically both believed passionately that they were right and others who felt differently were wrong. Unforgivably wrong. The only thing that separated the two women was what they believed about God. For Hilda Beauregard God was the centre of the universe, the alpha and omega, the source of all that was good in the world. For Fiona Lindenhauser God was a human construct, a reason to not accept responsibility for our lives, a crutch that weak people used. Like Principal Bunny she had no idea about prayers and the football team. Unlike Principal Bunny she had no desire to play along. God had no business with the football team or any other part of the school and she was going to get to the bottom of this. She was going to call Chairperson Loveless, Director of Education Crapaud and Superintendent White and get God the hell out of Byronville. She phoned the Trinity of Education Administration and they all phoned Bunny, one after the other. Bunny in turn called Head Coach Kidd into his office. He had to make a special trip to the school that day and missed the better part of the Skater Nation conference in Montreal. Now that was a sacrifice because conferences in Montreal are not to be passed over easily. Head Coach Kidd was able in say that there was no God. At least not on his football team. There was also no Christianity involved. Just a few inspirational messages before commencing the struggle, was all that was being said. It was a necessary part of the rebuilding program. Bunny was satisfied and phoned Loveless, Crapaud and White, who in turned all phoned Lindenhauser. Everyone was happy. Everyone except Trustee Fiona Lindenhauser.


I still don’t get it.” said Ryan as he walked into the staffroom after the barbecue.

I told you; you gotta change girlfriends.” Roberts wasn’t any funnier the second time around.

What do I have to do to get them interested in the environment? I fed 79 of them and once the food was gone so were they. It wasn’t like that was I was in high school. We were more engaged in politics, more aware of the world around us, more mature.” Mrs. T looked up from her marking and smiled.

I blame the system.” said Perkins. “How can we expect maturity from the students if we don’t expect it from them.”

What?” said the others, even Roberts.

I mean look at the evaluation policy that the province forces on us. Johnny hands something in late: no marks off. Anita cheaps on a test: let her do it again. Freddy skips a lab: let him come in at lunch and make it up. There are never any consequences for their behaviour. No wonder they never grow up. If the Chinese were trying to destroy our education system they couldn’t do a better job than the current government.” Once Perkins got going it was hard to stop him.

I don’t remember it being like this when I was in high school and that wasn’t that long ago.” said a still naive Ryan.

Mrs. T put down her marking pencil and cleared her voice: “It’s that damned Rushton Kappa, the education premier -she made quotation marks with her fingers- and his hatchet girl Edwina Mist. The Perpetual Party is trying to say they are better than the Progressive Resisters because there are fewer failures. There are fewer failures because they keep lowering expectations. That’s all. They would do anything to education in order to get reelected and they don’t give a damn about the consequences. First they make us separate behaviour from academic performance, so we can’t take marks off for just about anything. I mean really, where in the real world do deadlines not matter? Or maybe we should apply the same logic -again she made the quotation marks with her fingers-to teaching. Deadlines don’t matter, so I’m sorry class but today’s lesson will be ready tomorrow; I didn’t feel like prepping last night, so just talk amongst yourselves, yeah, right. This is no conspiracy theory of Perkins. This is real.”

Do you think they know what they’ve done to education?” asked Ryan.

I don’t think they care. To get reelected they would do anything and to hell with the consequences.”

Surely, we can do something. Surely, if we only made them see what’s happening.”

Go ahead and write them a letter and see what happens.” said Mrs T.

The only strategy that works in any way, shape or form is to go to the Legion and get good and drunk. Come on. I’m buying.” said Perkins.

Shouldn’t you wait until the end of the school day?”

I suppose that would be the professional thing to do.” said Perkins regretting that he still had a class to teach.


Trustee Lindenhauser still had to be converted. She had to see for herself. So one day after school she showed up at the field to see what was really going on. The football teams had to confine their practises to the end zones. The field hockey girls were playing another exhibition game. The idea of sharing a football field with a field hockey team was wrong, clearly wrong thought Head Coach Kidd. Schools had to have priorities. Football was a sport. Field hockey, well it couldn’t be a sport. You don’t wear skirts while playing a sport. Not a real one anyway. That line of thinking almost brought him in line with Trustee Lindenhauser. The field hockey girls’ skirts were a problem for her too. Once she saw the girls in their kilts, she forgot all about the God problem. She had Principal Bunny on speed dial and interrupted his enjoyment of the Board sponsored Asbestos and You in-service. She gave him five minutes of the best woman’s liberation diatribes, which was totally unnecessary, as he was ready to submit after only a minute. The end result was that the kilts would be gone just as soon as he could buy a team set of shorts and don’t worry he would find the money somewhere, maybe from the textbook budget.


Chapter five: Research Shows

Research Shows.

Research shows that students are most successful when…” started Vice Principal Doyle. It was a rare occasion when a member of the school’s Admin Team found himself in the staff room. It was even a rarer moment when Principal Bunny was in the school. But the staff and students at Lord Byron Secondary School in the Granite District School Board didn’t seem to mind or even notice. In his absence he had tasked Vice Principal Doyle with the creation of a committee to promote metacognition. Vice Principal Doyle wasn’t quite sure what metacognition was.

Sorry what?” Perkins said removing his Ipod headphones from his ears. He was listening to the Boston Pops version of Carmen while he was marking a set of grade ten lab reports.

Doyle continued: “Students are most successful when…”

Roberts said to Rickards: “D’ya see the game last night?”

D’ya mean the so-called battle of Ontario? I’d call it a comedy of errors” said Rickards to Roberts. The reference to Shakespeare was purely accidental.

Not a great defensive struggle between two disciplined squads intent on stymieing the potent offensive of their opponent?” answered Roberts

The Leafs and Senators? No, more like two groups of losers who couldn’t hit the net to save their lives.”

If students are allowed to express themselves fully taking into concern metacognition then…”

Mega con what ?”

Is that like chili con carne?”

Megacognition; learning about learning, as opposed to learning for learning and learning through learning”

I’m lost. What’s the difference?” Perkins asked thinking he should have left the headphones in his ears.

It’s really simple, really.” Doyle continued, warming up now that he thought he had their attention.

Students learn about how they learn. Not what they learn, or why they learn, but how.”


Not why, how. Well let me explain to you in terms of coaching.” Doyle had been a phys ed teacher before getting into Admin.

You don’t explain to the player how to throw the ball; you teach him about the ball, why he should throw the ball; how the ball feels about being thrown, things like that”

How should the ball feel about being thrown?”

How would you feel?”

So how does he learn to throw the ball?”

It doesn’t matter whether he can throw the ball or not. What is important is understanding the why. How doesn’t matter.”

But you just said why doesn’t matter, how does.”

It’s complicated.”

So if you play a team that doesn’t know why but knows how, who wins?”

That’s the beauty of it. Winning doesn’t matter. It’s not the only thing; it’s not everything; it just isn’t anything.”

Why would a kid want to play?”

To understand why he wants to play.”

How can you relate this to education?”

That’s the beauty of it” the VP continued. “The student doesn’t actually have to do any work at all. He just needs to understand why he would want to do work. It’s easier for him; it’s easier for the teacher and the parents are always happy, the Board and the Ministry are happy. It’s perfect. No one in my office complaining about Jones or Smith, no students failing; no teachers burning out.”

Who’s in your office complaining about me?”

Who isn’t?”

Teachers burn out because of all the stupid ideas that Admin forces on us.”

D’ya see the breakaway in the second period?’ asked Roberts.

Prstic’s in the second period? When he deeked left then right and had Hoplininin stretched out on the ice without a chance in hell of stopping a beach ball.” replied Rickards who had stopped even pretending to mark.

Hoplininin never has a chance of stopping a beach ball”

Yeah that’s it. Totally open net. My grandmother coulda scored.”

Then he trips on the blue ice and the puck trickles into the corner.”

Typical of their season”

What a bunch of losers! Who pays to watch these guys?”

Isn’t it Metacognition? You called it Megacognition.’ If there’s Megacognition, would there also be Gigacognition?” sometimes Perkins was a bit of a jerk.

Yeah what would that be?’

Learning about learning but in a much bigger way.’

How much bigger?’

Exponentially bigger’


Will you two shut up!’ said a frustrated Doyle.

Shut up? Shut up? Show a little respect for your elders, young man. In my day no V.P. would ever tell a teacher to shut up.’

Yeah but in your day, students wouldn’t tell a teacher to shut up.”

That’s not true. I remember Pat Dunn. Oh what a foul mouth. Told a number of teachers to shut up, fuck off and even told Barovsky to suck her dick?”

The new guy Ryan piped in ‘Suck her dick?’

Yeah, failed biology I guess. To say nothing about sex ed’

Okay I’m sorry I said what I said, but you guys need to take Megacognition..


I said Metacognition, You need to take it seriously” Vice Principal Doyle didn’t appreciate their sense of humour.

Hey, I just looked it up on Idefinitions. It isn’t so much learning about learning as thinking about thinking’

Come again”

It’s the science of thinking. You know, how the brain works.”

No it’s not that, it’s being conscious of our thinking process.”

Yes, now you’re taking it seriously. Go on” Doyle was beside himself with enthusiasm

Who thought this stuff up?”

Research from the Colorado Institute of Learning shows that students perform better when we don’t expect anything of them.”

You mean if you lower the bar low enough, everyone passes.”

Yes, that’s it: everyone passes. That’s are goal isn’t?”

Yeah what a couple of totally useless hockey teams. That big stupid defenseman is especially tits on a bull”

Which one?” asked Rickards, who wished he had got more sleep last night. But with a baby at home that wasn’t likely.

You know, Havelock.” added Roberts “Tries to clear his zone, puts the puck into his own bench, hits his own coach in the head.”

Yeah and gets two minutes for delay of game and the coach has to go for stitches.”

I remember back in my day.” Mrs. Templeton changed conversations. “They only had one goalie and he didn’t wear a mask. If he took a puck to the head, the whole game stopped while they stitched him up.”

How old are you?” asked Doyle who was barely over thirty.

None of your business, young man!” Mrs Templeton, who could have retired years ago, didn’t offend easily. But these young Admin Team members were hard to take. They ought to at least be shaving before they’re put in charge. “I don’t ask you how long you taught before you became a vice principal, do I? But I imagine it wasn’t more than five years, was it?”

Well actually…”

Then on the power play, those idiots can’t manage a shot on net. They get paid for that, imagine” Roberts probably enjoyed watching bad hockey more than the good stuff.

So if I understand correctly we are going to ask students to think about their thinking.”

How will we know that they are thinking about their thinking and not about the girl two rows over?”

Yeah they are teenagers. Can we even use teenager and thinking in the same sentence?”

Yeah, my dog has a longer attention span than a teenager and he’s been dead for years.”

I had three very successful years in the classroom before moving to the board office.”

Learning Centre.”


Learning Centre. They’re not calling it the board office any more.”

Yeah, I heard a rumour -I think it was Jenkins who told me-that they’re going to spend 3 million on improvements to the board office.”


Yeah, 3 million on the board office and we don’t have a second gym or enough lockers for every kid.”

So Jenkins says they changed the name to Learning Centre so that the public would think they were actually spending on students.” The Granite District School Board was good at spending money. But from the perspective of the teachers at Lord Byron Secondary School it didn’t show. The school was old and in need of repair. The chemical storage room was positively unsafe. The French department used textbooks from the 80’s. And the computers were donations from industries that didn’t want them anymore. But LBSS was in a forgotten corner of the Board, far enough away from Granite City that the Board easily forgot about it.

I thought Jenkins was dead.” remarked Ryan the new guy.

No that’s Burns. Jenkins runs an antique store over in Sloat’s Corners. But he still keeps up with school board gossip.”

Anyway, after moving to the Learning Centre I had four successful years as Obesity Consultant for the Board.”

The what?”

Obesity Consultant. I helped schools get rid of their fat kids.”

Isn’t that the same as the Fat Boy Consultant?”

It’s not called the Fat Boy Consultant.”

That’s what Perkins calls it.”

What d’you do? Kick the fat kids out of school? Shoot ‘em?

No, don’t be stupid. I helped schools build programs for kids who needed to lose weight.”

Is that a full time job?”

Gates Tanker, the phys ed head, had proposed something she called the Obesity Consultant. The Board had loved it but decided to give it to a young teacher with only three years experience, but someone they were grooming for Admin.

Then two years as Character Consultant.”

Shouldn’t Character education be done by the parents?”

Do you really want some of our parents to be responsible for bringing up their kids?”

Isn’t that the idea?”

How come the Board has money for a Fat Boy Consultant but not a science one?”

The Board always has money for the latest half baked idea. Like the time they put dogs in every Guidance Department in the county. They thought the dogs were less judgemental than the guidance councillors.”

And they gave better advice.”

Where’s the 3 million coming from?”

Jenkins didn’t know. But that didn’t stop him from speculating.”

Go on.”

He figures it’s coming out of the regular building maintenance fund. So the bathroom on the second floor isn’t going to get fixed any time soon.”

Yeah but not fixing one bathroom isn’t going to pay for a 3 million dollar renovation.”

No but if you don’t fix all the bathrooms in all the schools all over the board that need fixing, and you don’t shovel the snow after every little storm and you don’t replace lost books and you don’t… well you get the picture.”

Why don’t they just take it out of the French grant like they normally do?”

Can’t do that. They spent that money a long time ago.”

On what?”

On the previous director’s golden parachute. She got two years’ salary, her car and they covered her costs for her and her husband to go to two “conventions” in Bermuda and Arizona.” He made the quotation marks with his fingers. “They were in a hurry to get rid of her.”

I wish they were in a hurry to get rid of me.”

They are. But don’t hold your breath waiting for a golden parachute.”

Did you see the end of the game?”

Are you kidding? I couldn’t take it anymore. Marked for an hour and a half and then went to bed. Didn’t sleep though. Amy wouldn’t stop crying.

Well it went down to a shootout. Neither team could score until the eighth round; Havelock, of all people bears down on Hoplininin. Hoplininin tries to poke check the puck just as Havelock loses the handle. Hoplininin slides into Havelock; they both go down. Both are injured and have to be stretchered off.”

Did they have to use the backup goalie?”

No. With both of them lying on the ice, Havelock’s non-shot trickled into the net. Leafs won.”

So anyway. The reason I came up to this staffroom is I’m putting together a little work team to look at the role of mega- I mean metacognition in the classroom. Is anyone interested?”

I don’t know”

Not me”

Try Ryan the new guy.”

It involves missing a lot of school.”

I’m in”

Me too”

When do we start?”