For a little light-hearted change of pace this week, here’s a short story I did recently for one of my Philosophy classes. The assignment was to write a story containing certain theories of education put forth by Robert Gagne and Albert Bandura.
This, translated and adapted from the original Portuguese, was the result.
Friday night, and tranquility reigned in the small town of Eastville, in the American West. The streets were empty, the shops closed. The only sound was from the piano at the Last Chance Saloon, the one establishment open at that time.
Suddenly a shot broke the silence, followed by shouting and the sound of many horses’ hooves hitting the muddy road.
In his office, which was on the other end of the only street that passed through town, Sheriff Winston looked at his deputy, whose name was Franklin.
“It’s the Older Brothers gang,” he said, already checking his pistol and holstering it. “Let’s go.”
“Ok,” said the assistant. “But remember what we talked about earlier … we have to resolve these situations according to the educational principles that I learned at the University.”
Sheriff Winston sighed. “Whatever, but let’s go quickly, before those outlaws do more damage.”
Moments later the two law enforcement officials hid behind some barrels that were outside the hardware store. In front of them, the five members of the fearsome Older Brothers gang were shooting, shouting, smashing windows, and generally causing disorder.
Winston pulled out his pistol. “Let’s teach a lesson to these so and…”
Franklin put his hand on the sheriff’s pistol. “Of course … but according to the most recognized research in the field of education.”
“What do you mean?” asked Winston. “And what is it that you have there?” Franklin was carrying a backpack under his arm.
“These are the educational tools that we will use to resolve this situation.”
“Tools … but … and where’s your revolver.”
Franklin smiled. “My dear Sheriff, we are going to use less guns and more Gagne.”
“What in the …”
“Gagne,” continued Franklin, opening his backpack and ignoring the sheriff, “was an educator who developed learning theories. Basically, he said that all education was aimed at one of five outcomes: verbal information, intellectual ability, cognitive strategies, attitudes, and motor skills. ”
“But … they’re bandits …”
“…that are in need of social re-education. In this case, we will work with the fourth result, namely, their attitudes. ”
“This will change their attitudes,” said Winston, raising his Remington again.
Franklin pushed the sheriff’s hand down once again. “Stop being outdated, my friend” he said. “Check out our new weapons!”
The sheriff looked at his aide’s other hand, where he held two plush figures, each strung on a wooden rod.
“Are we going to use … dolls?”
“Not dolls!” replied Franklin. “Puppets.”
A bullet went over where the two of them were hiding, shattering the window of the hardware store.
“Quick, then, what’s your plan?” asked the sheriff.
“Take this,” replied Franklin, handing him one of the puppets. “And this one too …” He took a paper out of his backpack and gave it to his boss.
“What is it?”
“It’s our script.”
Winston looked at the paper. “Am I going to say that?”
“Not you, the puppet. I’m going to be the bad guy, and you’re going to be the sheriff.”
“But I am the…”
“Come on!” With that, Franklin raised his puppet, making it appear over the barrel.
“Wait!” protested the sheriff. “Have you lost your mind?”
“Far from it, Sheriff,” replied the aide, confidently. “I’m just applying Bandura’s educational theory. We are going to use these puppets to model good behavior for the gang. The bandits will see, and will try to imitate what they observe. It will be awesome. You’ll see!” And with that, he let out a out loud, “Hello guys!”
At the sound of his voice, the members of the Older Brothers gang stopped and turned to look. With incredulous eyes they observed a plush figure on top of a barrel.
“Look, we have their attention! That is good!” Franklin whispered. And then in the voice of his puppet, “I am the most ferocious bandit in the entire territory of the north of Rio Grande! Look how I am destroying this city!” And to the Sheriff, “Now it’s your turn.”
With no option, the Sheriff raised his puppet. “Hello… you thug. I am the sheriff of this city. Why are you destroying others’ belongings? ”
“It’s because I have a lot of energy, and destroying things is the only way I know how to use it.”
Winston looked at the script. “Seriously. Do I have to read this?” he asked in a low voice to Franklin.
Franklin nodded his head, and Winston, with a sigh, spoke in the puppet’s voice. “But friend, there are many ways to spend your energy that don’t break things.”
“Is this true, Sheriff?”
“Indeed it is. You can help someone with a job. You can participate in a sport, work out, or use your creativity to draw or write, or even put on a puppet show.”
“Wow Sheriff. I had not thought about it that way. Thank you very much. I will stop breaking things like a Neanderthal now and start using my energy in a constructive way. ”
“I’m glad to hear it, my friend!”
Winston turned the paper over, looking for the next line. He didn’t find it. “That’s it?”
“Yep. Now, we wait.”
There was a silence from the other side of the barrels, and then an uproarious burst of laughter.
“Do you see, Sheriff? They liked it! ” said Franklin triumphantly. “Now you will see their behavior start to change.”
Suddenly a sound like thunder filled the night – ten revolvers firing at once. Pieces of cloth and stuffing fell like snow onto the heads of the sheriff and his deputy.
“My puppets!” cried Franklin. He dropped the rod and tried in vain to put the pieces of the figure together.
The sheriff put his hand on his friend’s shoulder.
“So, is there an education theory that will help us now?”
Franklin looked, dismayed, at the strips of fabric that had once been his puppet. A solitary tear ran down his face. Finally, he looked at his companion.
“Yes, it does,” he said. In his eyes, determination. “Bandura said that when the student exhibits bad behavior, it is because the law has not been consistently applied in the past.”
Franklin put his hand on his belt, and took out his revolver. “And so, the solution is to start applying the law.”
The sheriff smiled, and raised his own pistol. “At my signal,” he said. “Three two one…”
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