I quickly noticed an unusual amount of kids hanging out by the shed when I came outside during recess one day. They were looking in the windows, listening at the walls, and pushing at the screen on the electronic dead-bolt. It didn’t take long for me to find out what the fuss was about. I got the report—something or someone was in the shed.
Now, I was quite sure there was no living being in the shed. The door was locked and rarely do teachers even go in there. I supposed it WAS possible that someone had opened it, left for a bit, an animal crept in, and then the person closed the door of the shed. Yes, you’re right. Rather far-fetched really.
Still, I had the students stand back as I went to open it, just in case something was to come darting out. After some issues with the new electronic lock and having to get the key (all of which added to the suspense), I unlocked the door.
Far-fetched as the scenario above was, I still had a bit of twitch as I opened the door.
In hindsight, my mistake was keeping the kids back as I walked in, looked around, and came back out saying all was clear. “Nothing is in the shed,” I declared. I locked the door and thought that was the end of it.
Not The End of It
I went back up the hill, looked down, and there was still a mob of students climbing on each other to look in, listening at the walls, and knocking on the walls to see if there was a knock in reply. Naturally, another student would be on the other side of the shed, hear the knock, and knock back, indeed affirming that something was in the shed, despite my assurances.
I stood and watched, marveling at the scene of a mob mentality playing out before me. A few charismatic students were able to keep the illusion alive and well. It was a little scary actually to see how it grew in conviction and how willingly some were to accept the idea and act on it, irrational as it was.
The bell rang, they went back to class, and I thought, “Surely, that would be that.”
Let’s Have A Look
I came back at noon hour and they were all at the shed again. Okay, time to correct my earlier mistake. I went down, opened the door, and let anyone who wanted to go in and have a look. That seemed to satisfy them and they all (well, most) went away on to other adventures.
I was left with this amazement at how easily a mob mentality could take hold in a group of children.
That was a few weeks ago and I sort of forgot about it.
Then Jane and I went to Costco last night.
True to news reports, we saw cart after cart stacked with three, four, five…48 roll packages of toilet paper. Costco has set up a whole extra section just for toilet paper! I guess mob mentality is alive and well among adults too.