Rational Inquiry -Volume 5 Number 2
They were doing so well in their sixth-grade middle school classroom. Their 32 tables were covered with soft cloth. Little table lamps emitted a soft glow across the cloth surface. Soft background New Age music, a small electric waterfall and wind chimes in the open windows provides soothing sounds, and the incense gently drifted through the air of the room. The light, gauzy curtains over the windows moved softly and silently as the occasional breeze from the windows played with them.
They, the students, were at ease as they hunkered over the tables, concentrating on the duties of the day. You see, the ancient Chinese practice of feng shui with the power of chi had come to their classroom. Many of them were not sure how to spell these words, and they did not know what they meant. But it did not matter; chi was working. They enjoyed it; it was cozy and cool. Little did they know, it was not to last.
A writer for the San Diego Union-Tribune visited their classroom to write a story about all of these wonderful things. It was published (February 1, 2000) with a big spread, pictures and all. And hell broke loose for the students—and their teachers.
"Feng shui at the head of the class" was the headline. The public came to know about teachings of the supernatural in our public schools, the use of public school funds for such activities, and the paying feng shui consultants for the designs. Many did not think much of the incense and the rest of it, so they were incensed. Scathing letters from members of SDARI went to the Union-Tribune. Two (by Linda Reeves and your editor) were published (February 5) along with other critical letters from the general readership. They flailed away at the lack of critical thinking, the fact that the teacher was instructed by psychics, the nonsense of feng shui and chi, mysticism with negative and positive energy fields, and all the rest that went on in the classroom, and with the School Boardís consent.
The students may have begun to be concerned about all of this publicity about their little hidden world; certainly the teachers and the School Board were. It so happened that in a gray and dreary office somewhere, the matter caught the eye of the Fire Marshal. We donít know what he thought about feng shui and chi, or if he thought they could be of use to put out fires. But he knew that that classroom was a big fire hazard, and went to work.
And soon (February 9) the Union-Tribune could report that the chi was gone, together with the tablecloths and curtains, the desktop lamps, and the flames of incense. The students think that that is sad, very sad. They lost it all, and so suddenly.