The Grinch stole Halloween too


An elementary school in Massachusetts canceled Halloween. There's some irony given Massachusetts history, is there not? You'd think they'd be the last to cancel something making fun of witches. Ah, but these days, fun is less and less allowed. I fear that the Grinch is winning.

The grinchy academicians in this case mummified Halloween, replacing it with something called “black and orange spirit day” whatever that is. I could be wrong, but I am betting two pumpkins that the committee spent hours deciding whether to call it "black and orange spirit day" or "orange and black spirit day" because those two titles have vastly different meanings and thought marshals who meet to discuss such things often get hung up on such details (instead of doing what they're hired to do). 

The school's principal issued a letter to parents that reads in part: "The costume parade is out of our ordinary routine and can be difficult for many students. Also, the parade is not inclusive of all the students and it is our goal each and every day to ensure all student's individual differences are respected." Is anything inclusive of all students? No. Is anything worse than boring sameness? No again.

When I was in elementary school, certain subjects were more difficult for students than others, as I'm sure they are today. One child has trouble reading, another falls behind in mathematics, such is the way of the world. To keep more advanced students interested, teachers broke them into groups that moved at a faster pace than other groups whose members struggled with various materials. That is, by definition, a form of exclusivity (actually, it's segregation), and it allowed children to function at their own pace. As a result, the strugglers as well as the non-strugglers advanced to the point of comprehension. Comprehension is the point of education, I believe. The alleged educators of Walpole, Mass, believe differently. 

Belief always leads to action. By observing action, you get a solid clue of what someone believes. 

What do you think the principal who canceled Halloween believes? I asked some elementary age children and their parents. The children said, "To make school less fun." Their parents said one thing or another that always sounded like, "Control." No one is my ultra progressive neighborhood came up with "inclusivity" until I told them the story, then they looked at me like I'd suddenly begun speaking Russian. 

Business owners see the same look from their customers when they trash traditions by introducing new policies without much input from customers. People rarely appreciate overlords upending their expectations.

Of course the principal needs to have control. But let's also remember that too much control creates unintended consequences. What do you believe will be the effect of teaching children that Halloween is bad?

Children believe still believe that threatening the neighbors for candy is a great idea, though I have not heard much about pranks lately. Today, Halloween is just something fun. For Walpole kids, it's less fun and the principal is the Grinch who stole it. Children see fewer fun days at school, which they translate as: learning means drudgery. 

Policies that outlaw traditional expressions of silliness at work have the same chilling affect on morale. Customers see less motivated employees and some of them trade elsewhere.

After mulling over what could possibly possess an elementary school principal to make learning less fun, I realized they forgot a very important lesson, which is to please the customer.

The leader made it harder for customers to be raving fans of their product. 

Who is the customer of an elementary school? I count three groups: children, parents, and the larger community. For a school to function as intended, a child must be sold on the concept that learning is worth his or her time. Second, the parent must be sold that this school is worth his or her child's time. Third, the community must be sold that the school is educating its children properly. Investment creates expectation. 

In any environment (school, work, home, or deep in the woods) one’s investment (money and loyalty) is tied to one’s expectation, and expectation stems from perceived value. Children learn better when learning is fun - they see the value in fun immediately. Parents that do not have to beg or threaten their children to get them to go to school also see the value in a fun learning environment. The community just wants fewer village idiots. 

In this case, the principal made a ghost of fun, played a trick on trick-or-treaters, and dressed a vampiric rule in a popular phrase that stops all arguments. It's the "this might happen so let's overreact again" crowd black catting its way around a lamp post. I mean, seriously, what is more inclusive than allowing everyone to wear ridiculous costumes and parade around their silliness? One laughs just thinking about children dressing up and parading. (Unless one is the Grinch.)

Fun increases customer loyalty. 

Now, let's look in the mirror. What can you do to make it more fun for your customer? What policies do you tolerate in the name of control that make it harder for employees to turn customers into raving fans?