The other day at school I was advised by my administration that I should keep my political views to myself. Since the present political cycle is the oddest and most interesting of my life this request will be very difficult to obey. But, also since I am getting older and retirement is less than a year away I thought it best to listen to myself and be damned to all who want to control my thoughts
As I watched my colleagues remove all of their students work in order to eliminate competition that has become the antithesis of modern education and throw out racially mixed wall decorations and political posters they had used for the past decade in order to produce a relaxed atmosphere conducive to learning because everything had to become socially manilla my mind’s eye took an inevitable turn. I imagined a school that was made up entirely of stainless steel. The halls were shiny, sterile, and cold while the floors and ceilings had few demarcations to determine where the walls began and the floors and ceiling ended. The rooms had doors made of steel while the windows in the doors had to be clear because no paper was allowed in our new stainless steel world.
Inside the rooms everything was made of stainless steel. The desks were attached to the floor and the chairs were immovable because they were attached to both the desks and the floor. Everything was shiny and silver and because nothing foreign was allowed to be placed on anything, the room looked as though it was never or should never be occupied. But, it was.
My students were sitting in their stainless steel chairs with their hands folded together on their stainless steel desks. Attached to these desks were stainless steel i-pads all tuned into the same website that displayed the same information in order to produce the same information necessary for everyone to be the same. They were not making a sound because like the stainless steel rooms no chatter or conversation was allowed unless the teacher said it was ok to do so. The only sound allowed to be heard was the dull humming of the stainless steel room emanating from the perfection of nothing. Free thought like the old posters on my wall that advertised conceptual reflection and independent ideas were also eliminated because of the new codes of our new world.
Looking out at my students I was terrified to watch them all start to turn silver and shiny like their desks and chairs. The natural contour of their faces began to warp into a kind of angled perfection that made them look like robots or some characters in a bizarre world of comic books gone by. This image was produced because our new world of codes no longer allowed the concept of humanity to be displayed. They all looked up at me with their now silver eyes waiting for me to do something about what was happening to their new futures.
I wasn’t allowed to say anything because the concept of thought had been replaced by the standards, which stated that all of the knowledge one could teach or learn had to be allowed by the people who were in charge of making sure everything was common. Tests had to be taught to and new knowledge had to first be permitted by those who made the new world codes laws that had to be both promoted and accepted. New thoughts and new dreams had to come from the authorities instead of from their minds. For a second I was tempted to rebel when all of a sudden I noticed my hands were turning silver and my body felt cold like all worlds must feel that was destined to be filled with nothing new and different.
Right before I was about to fall into my stainless steel chair that was in back and attached to my stainless steel desk I observed all of my students glare at me knowing I had become what the standards told me I had to become. I also noticed their silver eyes had become encased in a shield of tears that no longer had the capacity to break through onto their stainless steel faces.
The other day at school I was advised by my administration that I should keep my political views to myself. Since the present political cycle is the oddest and most interesting of my life this request will be very difficult to obey. So, why bother?
Jim Fabiano is a teacher and writer living in York, Maine
You can contact Jim at: firstname.lastname@example.org