Random (boring) Thoughts
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2009-02-04 03:47:45 (UTC)

What I really learned in school

I was watching a TV program this evening in which a man
caught fire. Like all Americans, my mind immediately went
back to that saying that we all heard at least 478 times
before we were 8 years old: Stop, Drop, and Roll.

Because my mind is always working (though usually on
something obscure and unproductive), I began to ponder the
teaching of this technique further. What is it, I
wondered, that makes these four words so important that
every school-aged tot in America undoubtedly learns what
to do if they catch fire before they know how to read or
write. After all, one has to wonder exactly how big of a
problem we're trying to solve here.

Like most boys, I had a typical fascination with fire when
I was younger. I used to love poking at camp fires,
lighting fireworks, and burning random objects in the
woods near my house. I once walked through the smoldering
embers of a large bonfire for so long that my sneakers
melted from the heat. And yet, I did ignite, nor have I
since caught on fire even once. And what's more, I have
never met anyone who has.

I would like to see the statistics about exactly how many
people set themselves on fire every year and are saved by
the "Stop, Drop, and Roll" campaign. My guess is that it's
a very low number, and probably not nearly as many as die
from, say, a slip in the tub.

Thus, one would think that tub slippage is a much more
dangerous and prevalent problem facing the modern
American. And yet, I sat through nary a lecture on bathtub
safety during my elementary school days.

I guess if I go down in the shower tomorrow morning, I'm
on my own. However, if I spontaneously burst into flames
on my way to work, I will be completely prepared.

And I owe it all to the American education system; it's
the only thing I ever really learned in school.