Fourth graders at the Flowery Field Primary School in Hyde, England, recently walked into class to find a surprise. The class had an elf-on-the-shelf and, as students arrived in the morning, they learned the elf had been "murdered" — and it was their job to solve the crime. Their normal assignments were set aside for the day so the kids could play detective.
Most of the students loved the activity, as they do every year. According to one parent, though, the event traumatized her daughter.
The mom, who asked not to be named, said parents were given no notice of the activity. The premise was elf-on-elf murder, and the crime scene included blood splatter and caution tape. She is upset that parents didn't have the option to prepare their children or decide if the assignment was inappropriate for them. She said her daughter wasn't ready for blood and corpse outlines, or for "the idea that an elf would murder another elf," and the little girl spent the night having nightmares. And, according to her, she's not the only parent whose child was upset.
The school has a different take on the event. They claim student engagement was at an all-time high. They were so proud of how it turned out that they tweeted about it.
The tweet includes some pictures of the bloody crime scene.
According to head teacher Ian Fell, the assignment is not only appropriate, it's a great success.
"The children were all excited and they really did buy into it. Of all of the 90 children who took part, none of them showed anything but full engagement. One of the children said to me 'I am definitely being a detective when I grow up.'"
Fell explained that the assignment is particularly beneficial for the children who find more traditional class work harder to do. Not every student does well just sitting at a desk writing or reading quietly from a book, and those students love the opportunity to learn by getting up, moving around, and interacting with people and their environment.
As far as he is concerned, there's no reason to even consider canceling the activity.
"I have been a teacher for 30 years and this is, in my judgement, an appropriate, engaging and exciting thing that children aged 8 and 9 have done. They have been so up for it. I am really looking forward to see the quality of the outcomes. We are not trying to keep this a secret and we will be Tweeting about the rest of exercise."
Twitter is pretty divided on the subject.
If the purpose of the activity was to encourage engagement, it's certainly been a success. People from all over the world are now commenting on the school's tweets about the elf murder mystery.