“‘Goblin mode’ — a slang term referring to ‘a type of behavior which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations’ — has been named Oxford’s 2022 Word of the Year.” — New York Times, 12/5/22
Many of you have written to question aspects of our school’s Fall 2022 trimester. You’ve asked things like, “What happened to the Math Department?” and “Why does my son keep coming home from school coated in Cheetos dust?” We’ve also received several complaints about our unstoppable head lice outbreak, our student-run cannabis lab, and our new curriculum based solely on the video game God of War, which students now play all day long, usually while lying around swapping lice, eating junk food, and smoking weed.
These are reasonable concerns, but in light of the current teacher shortage, Washington High, like so many other schools, has had to pivot to goblin mode just to keep our doors open. Simply put, we have no one to teach your children and have had to implement some creative solutions.
We initially started the God of War-thing to fill gaps created by resignations in our English Language Arts program, but then we realized how much more academic content the game could cover. In addition to employing character-driven narrative storytelling, it’s rooted in Norse mythology (History), requires strategy and critical thinking (Sociology), the ability to navigate group dynamics (Psychology), and develops hand-eye coordination (Phys. Ed).
We haven’t yet figured out how to make gaming count for math or science credits, but with the cannabis lab in the classroom across the hall, we figure we have Biology, Botany, and Intro to Economics covered (we are reasonably sure the students are buying and selling).
Is goblin mode an ideal academic orientation? No, it’s not. But goblin mode as a governing structure works better than anything else we’ve tried in an almost total absence of adult supervision. The students, while bloated, sluggish, and generally wayward, seem basically content.
We are far from the only district facing these staffing challenges. In Florida, if you’re a military veteran, you can land a full-time teaching gig without any teacher education or preparation at all. In Kansas, any 18-year-old who’s graduated from high school can be a substitute teacher. We actually plan to adopt this policy soon; we’re about to graduate 200 seniors, which could potentially solve the whole problem. They’re already hanging out here napping and eating nachos, so they might as well stick around and teach.
Essentially, American schools have two options right now: hire completely untested, uneducated, unqualified people and put them in charge of your children’s intellectual development, or “go goblin,” as we have chosen to do.
Valued parents: you can be angry about this, and maybe you should be, but there’s literally nothing that can be done about it other than to fairly compensate teachers and provide adequate federal funding for the single most important national institution we have. Clearly, we’re not going to do either of those things, so goblin mode it is.
If any of you have better ideas, please drop me a note (in the actual mail; all of our bandwidth is now being used for gaming, ordering DoorDash, and following the Domino’s Pizza Tracker, so email service is sketchy at best. Also, I don’t have time to go through my inbox because I have to clean the bathrooms and drive the buses along with performing my regular administrative duties).
In closing, if you’re willing to teach and don’t currently have a criminal record (which is a criterion we’re probably about to scrap), please feel free to report to duty first thing tomorrow morning (at 11:30, which is now the start of our school day).
Washington High School