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Saturday Morning
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Reflecting upon the Space Shuttle experience, I remember that I teared up, that I was seeing the actual shuttle (not a mockup or model) in person, realizing that it was already an extinct species, the last of its kind, a broken link to our collective dreams.

There were lots of guards, museum employees and staff on duty. The one nearest the door saw me with tears in my eyes, smiled, and said that he saw so many of my generation come in here and react the same way. He said that younger people are far more blase, walking around the exhibits, after merely glancing at the real, live space shuttle overhead, maybe taking a quick picture.

Meanwhile, hordes of school children ran around the spacious floor of the exhibit, shrieking and playing tag and pushing and shoving, having a wonderful time that had nothing to do with the exhibit and everything to do with the playground.

Their behavior continued to be raucous in the environmental exhibits, where they played hide-n-seek around the fish tanks and marine exhibits, and screamed at the sand shark swimming slowly in its tank. One little girl screeched so loudly even her age mates put their hands over their ears. The adults "supervising" these youngsters just ignored the whole scene and continued on with their personal conversation(s).

Thinking back, I find it difficult to say but reality based evidence demands the truth, there were groups of children from different schools, usually in groups of similar ethnicity. Only one group of a particular ethnicity was misbehaving, with lackadasical adults in charge. It is unfair of me to criticize all the children. Most were using indoor voices and were quite well-behaved.

Though I am an ardent advocate of equal rights, I am also an ardent advocate of equal responsibility for civilizing our children and for respectful relations among all peoples. That includes a certain kind of behavior in publicly shared places. I used to teach in schools predominately of that ethnicity and I know whereof I write.

I can guarantee, from personal experience, that those same children were well-behaved on the school buses that took them back to their schools. No school bus driver would tolerate running back and forth, changing seats, and screaming at the tops of their voices. Similar expectations should exist for other places. All children are quite capable of being civilized and showing respect for everyone.

The childrens' behavior diminished the museum experience. I'd like to go back in the late afternoon, after they have all been bused back to their schools, to see the exhibits again, when I might be able to hear myself think.

I'll bet those same 'don't-care' adults would be the first to get angry at any commentary pointing out the differences in behaviors among the groups, calling such observations racist bigotry. The behaviors of course do not derive from differences in skin color, but from differences of culture and perceptions of shared spaces, public behavior.

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