We have an assignment for "Core II" (a mandatory liberal arts class), which is to create a narrative detailing how our ideas have been challenged or changed by the class discussions and assignments. Yeah, right.
I’m afraid mine is rather vitriolic, though I wisely stop short of lambasting the teacher herself. Here it is, as of 2 days before it’s due.
I did all my changing in high school. Mostly senior year. Mostly from arguing with political scientists and physics majors online. I radically changed by faith, political alignment, philosophical views, life ambitions, and not-so-radically my poetic/prosaic style.
I change because I was confronted by intelligent people with whom I had long debates and masterful lingual exercises.
I sit here now, assigned to write a concise narrative detailing how my ideas have been "challenged" by the discussions in my Core II class. Besides being a bit puzzled how to narrate what is in effect a summation of ideology, I struggle to find even a single instance wherein I was "challenged," so to speak.
In an effort to comply, however, I will chronicle (or "flash back," for semantics’ sake) each story.
Golding’s "Thinking As A Hobby" was the first text we attacked, followed by King’s “Letter From A Birmingham Jail.” As I recall, I stirred up trouble by suggesting that King was a Grade 1 thinker because his motives for a civil rights crusade were based in his perceptions and emotions rather than a logical system of thought. Other students suggested that he was an iconoclast because he simply wanted to bring down the establishment. When I pointed out that King wished to reform, rather than destroy, said argument went silent, and my classmates lapsed again into a critical apathy.
Next, we read "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas," where I recall being disgusted by the class’s inability to even discuss "dark" ideologies. What? Schadenfreude? Nonsense! I’m a good person… everyone else must be too! I also recall being driven almost to anger by a certain response to the teacher’s question "What do you consider a perfect city?" that was the possibly the most inane, banal, impertinent thing I’ve ever heard. More specifically, someone asserted that heaven is a perfect place, and we’ll all be there someday. I think I died a little inside that day, not because I don’t agree, but simply because it had absolutely nothing to do with the inquiry or the discussion at large. Once again, there was no challenge to my ideology; everyone in the class agreed immediately upon their thoughts and their course of action.
Next came Wolfe’s "The Night In Question," where the obvious parallelism was apparently lost to most. In this respect, the class was the most divided (pragmatism v. humanism), but my thoughts were that the question posed (namely, "Would you save your child or the people on the train?") was unanswerable because we were all childless, unmarried teenagers sitting in a classroom. Most people aren’t comfortable with flatly admitting to pragmatism. If they chose to save their "child," they rationalised it somehow, rather than confessing that sometimes you have to look out for Number 1.
Newman’s essay confused almost everyone (who are frightened, apparently, by dense prose), but it really didn’t offer anything revolutionary. After all, it is essentially a lengthier, sesquepedalian precursor to Golding, who we already digested and found little controversy in.
No further exemplification is necessary. In essence, there is little to be gained in attempting to goad an apathetic and ultimately static group of students into cognitive dissonance, except perhaps irritating me. The teacher’s unwillingness to voice her own opinions (in the interest of fairness, I’m sure) more or less leaves me (backed only by Dave’s non-sequiturs) arguing against a dozen petty associative comments, none of which manage to succeed in piercing my panoply. I have learned nothing, I have not been challenged, and I do not foresee such an event occurring at the present rate.