I’d thought of doing this as an update to my earlier post, but on second thought decided it needed its own separate billing.
My prior post was about the adult reaction to a playground scuffle. This post is about the impact that reaction has had on the central participant in it. I think it demonstrates how insidiously corrosive are the messages that the “educational” system desires to bludgeon into little boys’ heads.
Last night the wife was working late. So after supervising supper and hectoring the boys through their showers, I addressed myself to the topic of homework. Our middle child, No. 2, is in fourth grade. Each week they have a “spelling packet,” consisting of a list of words to learn, all supposedly organized around some particular phonetic or orthographic principle(s). There follows a set of exercises using those words. The final item in the packet is a paragraph the young scholars are set to write on a specified topic; they have to use four of that week’s spelling words. The completed spelling packet is due on Thursday.
No. 2 had mostly already finished his spelling packet when last night I asked him if he were done. Almost. Well, what is “almost?” He wanted to wait until mommy got home. I told him that mommy wasn’t going to be home until late, I was all he had by way of help, the work was due today, and get himself in to the kitchen (where I was) and let’s get this wrapped up. So we did. The paragraph topic was to write about someone the student knows or has read about “who was treated unfairly.” Only stipulations were that it must be a real person and cannot be a family member.
After he’d drawn a blank, and I’d drawn a blank, and No. 1, whom we’d called in for purposes of inspiration, had likewise come up empty, I had an afflatus. This is a Roman Catholic school. Why not Joan of Arc? I mean, leading your country’s armies to victory over the invader, personally seeing to it that your king is properly crowned in Reims, and then for your troubles getting turned over to that very invader who burns you at the stake: If that isn’t “unfair” I’d like to see what is. So we looked over the spelling words list and figured out which words we could work in to which parts of a paragraph. At my suggestion he broke out a sheet of scratch paper to put his draft together.
Everything went swimmingly until the very end. He ended the narrative by saying just that she “was killed,” without mentioning how or by whom or who enabled it. You know, kind of the central part of the story about why she’s a saint and not just another military hero. My fourth-grader’s explanation? He was scared that if he wrote she’d been burned at the stake he’d get in trouble at school because of what’s been going on with him. After I re-assured him that he wouldn’t get in trouble for it, he re-wrote the final sentence.
Can you believe that? I mean, this little boy has so internalized the message that There’s Something Badly Wrong With Me and I’m just this horrible violent person and I’ll get in trouble if I even truthfully describe something that actually happened to a major historical personage that he can’t even tell the truth about France’s national saint. What the hell? I mean, what the everlasting billy blue hell? Those hand-wringing bastards have wounded my boy’s soul, and for no other reason than that they don’t have enough spine to tell some over-wrought mother to get a damned grip on herself and be grateful her precious little DNA receptacle learned him a couple of important life lessons on the playground as opposed to some dark alley.
If you raise the next generations to be too rabbit-craven even to describe evil, treachery, and ingratitude, precisely how on earth do you expect them to engage and defeat it successfully? Or does “Education” School theory now teach that we won’t have to worry about such distressing phallocentric oppressive behavior now that we’ve effectively criminalized being a boy?