the school murder case (part one)

"The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound."

My employer made this pronouncement, then she leaned back in her chair, lit a cigarette, and sipped her coffee. I knew what had set her mind in this direction. This morning we were going to school.

Jan Sleet started every morning with a cup of coffee and a cigarette. Some days, of course, coffee was not available, and on those mornings it was more difficult to get her out of bed. Unless there was a mystery to solve.

This morning, there weren't any mysteries in sight, so it was fortunate that coffee was available, since we had an appointment.

"Are you speaking generally," I asked, "or is this a comment on the school we're visiting today?"

"Oh, it's just a general observation," she said with a smile. "I'm curious to see the school today. I don't know that much about it."

I wondered if this was true. It would not have been unusual for her to claim ignorance about a subject, in order to "discover" things about it later. On the other hand, I had never seen her exhibit any interest in children, so perhaps she hadn't been paying much attention to the U-town School.

I knew that it was very much an ongoing experiment. I had heard that it was similar to a one-room schoolhouse in a small town, in that students were not automatically segregated by age. There was a lot of effort to create a balance between having a mandated curriculum and allowing students, even young ones, to pick what they wanted to learn.

"What did they ask you to talk about?" I asked.

"Oh, I'm not really sure," she said with a smile. "About being a reporter, I would imagine, but I think the students should get a choice. There are so many topics I could help with. Reporting, writing, solving mysteries, Bellona, the benefits of tobacco, government administration..."

The original invitation had asked her if she would like to come in the morning. I had a feeling that, before the day was over, they were going to wish they had also specified exactly what time she would be expected to leave.

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About Anthony Lee Collins

I write.
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