The first item a student lays eyes on as she or he enters the classroom is the white board. For that short period of time, the entire group of students’ attention is solely dedicated to viewing whatever occurs on the shiny, luminous 72 by 36 inch alabaster coated piece of wood. Students dutifully transcribe what they see on the board to their own personal books, and seemingly, they are able to refute or support any statement made by the teacher with the words, “It was written on the white board.” The board is such an essential piece of the traditional classroom experience; it is almost revered like a Bible or religious text. The board dictates our activities for the day, punishments and rewards. It controls all that occurs in the classroom. It is all powerful.
Grades identify the prey from the predator. People do not know you by name, they know you by grade. They identify and classify you into categories, sub-groups, lists and genus by the numerical barcode in the grade book. Are you A, B, C or F? This translates into: are you an annoying know-it all, a good average student that everyone likes, a bare minimum partier or a waste of space? In this game of survival, grades are the secrets people would like to keep but seemingly cannot. This is a world where numbers trump personality.
Onto to the horrid jungle — the lunchroom. Speaking realistically, there is no civility in the dining that occurs in this concrete box filled with artificially flavored preservatives. You could hardly even call it dining. Socio-economic status can easily be determined by the location of the species in this closed environment. The young men and women who bring their lunch from home cultivate in clusters. They are the lucky chosen. Usually, their lunch consists of items that are falsely advertised as healthy (fruit roll ups, flavored sparkling water, turkey and cheese on white bread). These people believe they are eating delicacies, but honestly, the school lunch may provide better sustenance. The leeches usually lurk around with those who have brought lunch to form a sort of parasitic relationship. They waste the school lunch they bought, and then leech off of the children who brought their lunch from home. Then, there are the humble fungi. The fungi are subtle creatures who buy their lunch from school, and eat it in peace, only accepting bestowed gifts from the chosen if offered. They are the purest of all the species.
The lanyards hanging from the bland, beige khaki shorts of "men" who "can drive" are supposed to create a "cooler than thou" appeal. Sometimes, itworks, but most of the time, it just looks idiotic. Especially if it sways when you walk. It is a superiority complex that effects the behavior of the subject drastically. Take the lanyard away from the man, and he becomes a boy. Without his lanyard and his keys, the average male subject is left powerless in the ruthless environment.
In the paradox that is school, (i.e. it educates us about democracy but proceeds to give us none) the only species that will prevail are those who learn to embrace and adapt to what school really is. The true winners will see through the candy giving professors and their snake-like fellow scholars. We will prevail.