randomWalks’ greatest hits: One Evening When She Was Two
One day I told my students (freshmen at a prominent east-coast university) to pull out a piece of paper. They all did. I told them to print their names in the upper right-hand corner. They all did. I told them to tile the paper “A Syllabus of Syllables,” and then underline the title. They all did. I told them to write the following syllables next to the numbers: “ge, sha, la, urb, orb, go, vin, sko, sti, cer.” They all did. I told them to form a word from each of the syllables. They asked me a few questions - they wanted to be sure exactly what it was I wanted from them - and then they all hunched over their papers and did it. I told them to fold the paper in half. Deborah asked which way. I said lengthwise. Then I told them to hand in their papers. They all did. I stood there with a handful of 15 papers folded lengthwise. Everybody was looking at me.
Not one of them asked me why we were doing this. Not one of them told me to go screw myself. Not one of them — not one — even looked at me strange.
Why should they? Nothing strange had happened. this was school. School is where you give up your power, you do what you’re told, and you don’t ask questions. In school, we all learn not to care anymore, not even to care that we’re being humiliated, because everybody keeps telling us that we’re being educated.