Saturday, August 18, 2007

Pain in Public School - The "Quiet Essay"

This page has moved to here.

The centerpiece of this post is a document I was forced to copy as a punishment for speaking in class. It happened in middle school... If you managed to read the first paragraph, I congratulate you. It's a horrible thing. This is not a joke. I never copied this... I only doodled my discontent at the top.

As an early disestablishmentarian, I alerted my mom of this hilarious green piece of paper. She also happens to be a progressive college English teacher so she naturally went berzerk and had a word with those in charge. The paper was assigned by a sub for a social studies class. She believed the youth before her (including me) were beyond her control. It was an assignment for the entire class. She must have thought to herself "Maybe this will shut them up for 20 minutes." Here's a selection from the 'Quiet Essay:'
If I continue to talk in class and disrupt, I will slow the class down and make it difficult for others students to learn when I am rude like this and continue to talk. I am cheating other students out of the most valuable acquisition they will make in their lives: their education.
Our sub was clearly on crack, and believed we were destined for that same fate. It seems its a slippery slope. Talking in class = cultural illiteracy:
Also I will not have the education to enjoy many wonderful things. I will not be able to enjoy great books and literature, music, or films as well as others.
I was assigned this beautiful artifact of discipline while in the loving hands of the Los Angeles Unified School district at Orville Wright Middle School.

My reasons for disliking this sort of punishment are obvious as a student. The whole thing is made far worse when what I'm assigned to copy is filled with poor grammar. It also ungracefully links my behavior to material gains. If I continue down the road of belligerence "I will never be able to afford a great stereo, a computer, a new car, or a house."

My mother made sure the school realized that this type of 'standard' not only made writing itself a punishment, but made the writing of poor logic and grammar a punishment. It didn't teach a thing, but instead made me a dumber, angrier beast.
On my school's site I found a place where I can post 'memoirs.' I submitted the following memory. I doubt it'll make it past the screeners: UPDATE: It has been posted here.