March 27, 2013 at 6:48 PM ET
Middle school students in Hermiston, Ore., are likely to find themselves woefully unprepared to respond to a zombie apocalypse, should such an event ever occur. But don’t blame Rich Harshberge, a middle school teacher at Armand Larive Middle School. He taught an extracurricular class on zombie survival skills, only to have it recently cancelled by district officials.
Harshberger’s course actually sounds suspiciously like a reading and writing class with a bit of zombie flair thrown in to help keep kids interested. As CNet.com reports, students had to keep a survival journal (writing) and "The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead" was assigned for you know… reading.
"It's gotten kids engaged that I wouldn't have gotten engaged before," Harshberger told the East Oregonian.
Engaged or not, Hermiston School District officials shut the popular class down. “The use of zombie-related materials is unfortunate and was not approved in accordance with district curricular policies,” said Superintendent Dr. Fred Maiocco, as part of a statement on the school’s website . “We extend our regrets to anyone offended by their use.”
The district’s statement also notes that the class wasn’t properly reviewed beforehand and that the subject matter has been deemed inappropriate for middle school students. Zombie survival has been replaced with an exploratory reading class.
While the school district was undoubtedly attempting to be cautious and prudent, many readers feel that an opportunity to make learning fun and interesting has been lost as a result. In response to a story about the class on KPTV.com, a reader named Wendy wrote, “Heaven forbid kids have fun while learning! The current reading classes are so boring and the reading materials are outdated. I would love to have any class like this that actually got my kids excited about reading!”
Of course, some agree with the district’s decision. As a reader named Dana wrote, “It's inappropriate for any school. What a stupid thing to even consider. Maybe that teacher plays too many video games!”
Do you think a zombie survival class is a fun, innovative way to get kids hooked on reading or do you think it’s inappropriate for middle school kids?
Dana Macario is a Seattle-area mom who has somehow missed the whole zombie craze and is therefore unlikely to survive a zombie apocalypse.