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Holidays with Class(es): St. Entropy Gets Schooled

Category: Center for the Future Of Museums Blog
This is #25 in a series that, I’m happy to say, looks like it won’t end anytime soon. Enjoy a holiday break, and I look forward blogging with and for you in the new year.

‘Twas the night before Christmas, but I was not done;
Final grades for my students had yet to be run.
All of the essays, exams, and the rest
Had to be scored, as did every test.
All of the projects that took multiple tries
(Note: if you work in collections, learn to alphabetize),
And all of the classes they didn’t attend,
All the displays that fell down without end
(The labels with typos that made text obscene,
The objects glued firmly and wrongly—I mean!)
And all of the tours that they led the wrong way
Had to be graded—and all wanted an A.
And I? There I sat at my desk, tired and weary
From teaching my students museum learning theory.
I had Falked, I had Dierkinged, I had Heined and had Spocked,
But the students all seemed to be mentally blocked.
I musealized, made meaning, and drew them a map,
But all that they wanted was to download an app.
Whether online or offline, hook, line, or sinker,
It seemed that no student could be classed as a thinker.
When, down in exhibits, there arose such a clatter,
I leapt from my languor to see what was the matter
(Assuming displays were collapsing again,
But, no, they were stable.) Re-capping my pen,
Away to the window I flew in a flash,
Tore open the shutters, and threw up on the sash.
(A hint: never mix drinks when strange creatures are stirring,
If you don’t want to wind up with your brain all a-whirring.)
But the moon on the snow, now starting to fade,
Reminded me I still had essays to grade.
When, what to my slow-crossing eyes should appear
But an anachronistic red sleigh and reindeer?
With a lively old driver, with such vim and verve,
I knew in a moment he must grade on the curve.
With a nod and a twitch and a big puff of smoke,
St. Entropy popped in and gave me a poke.
His eyes, how they twinkled―he smiled with such zest!
I knew he could never have passed the drug test.
He flipped through the essays, sadly shaking his head:
I knew that my students had something to dread.
Whipping out his red pen that matched his face well,
He proceeded to write out what he had to tell.
“If you use 3-inch margins and 30-point font,
Santa is not going to give what you want.
No dashes! No danglers! No punctos! Must scan!
Use logic and reason whenever you can.
Make a case for each case, have a plan for each item;
Those who don’t find that things come back to bite ‘em.
If you depend for your image on Civil War re-enactors,
Then don’t include Elvis or John Wayne as factors.
No, you can’t sell your collection at yard sales around town
Or donate things to your skeet club to get crowding down.
The collection is not yours to sell or to barter
And you can’t fund the museum by using Kickstarter.”
He grumbled and groused and was one basic jerk,
Until finally, finally, he finished the work.
Then, raising the papers to check off each name,
He sputtered and asked me, “Hey, what is your game?
Your students were never the true perpetrators—
All their essays were cribbed from your genius curators.”
Alas, it was true—one might say heuristic
The students had merely been opportunistic.
Capitalizing on low curatorial pay,
And professional ethics (decidedly gray),
They hired out the work that they should have done,
Knowing money was something no curator would shun.
I was stunned nigh to silence by this ethical lapse,
So I took a quick quaff of my holiday schnapps.
The meaning of this leaves me haunted by specters.
Will all of my students become…gasp…directors?
As for St. Entropy, he was no help.
He just leaped in his sleigh and uttered a yelp.
As quick as he’d come, now he was gone,
His sleigh and his team just a speck on the lawn.
But I heard him exclaim, as the team rose away,
“Like all drama and trauma, we’ll end with an A!”

Skip over related stories to continue reading article

John Simmons, Sally Shelton and Elizabeth Merritt know exactly what is going to be on the final.

Image from “Tacky Christmas” Blog

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  1. Thank you once again John, Sally and Beth, for making my yuletide merry and bright. Where would we all be without youse guys — and of course, St. Entropy.

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