Various Views of a Student Encounter

with apologies to Raymond Queneau, who described a Paris scene from 99 different points of view.

Location: Brown, rectangular space with no windows or distinguishing effects on the walls. When the bell rings for class a student of about 13 years, distinguished by shoulder-length hair and a T-shirt containing a message not suitable for family news consumption, comes in, along with other students. He exhibits annoyance with another student attired in school-appropriate maroon shirt and khaki trousers. Then he goes to his seat.

From the Chief Education Officer in Charge of Discipline:
Dear Students:
Thank you for agreeing to write about the incident in class on December 2, ___. Use these questions to guide you in your presentation.

·  At what time did the class start?

·  How many adults were present?

·  How many students were present?

·  Did you particularly notice any of the students?

·  Did you notice any interaction between students?

·  How did the incident end?

Student Responses

·  Student 1: So what do they want of me? Yes, I was in class at 8 a.m. Did a boy wearing a T-shirt shove another boy? It’s quite possible. Personally, I don’t examine people under a microscope. I don’t give a damn darn.

·  Student 2: I got to class at 7:58 a.m. Most people came in later–girls, boys, the teacher. I took my seat and then looked around. It wasn’t very interesting. This was algebra, after all. I noticed a boy with long hair. Every time another student came into the room, there was some milling about. The boy with the long hair started to argue with another boy. I didn’t hear what he said, but they gave each other some dirty looks and the boy with the long hair went and sat down in a hurry.

·  Student 3: The teacher said it happened at 8:07. Some students had come into the class. They were in very close proximity. A boy with long hair had complained to the boy standing next to him about being shoved. As soon as he saw a vacant seat, the boy with the long hair rushed over to sit down.

·  Student 4: One morning in the class–Algebra was its name–
I saw a little runt, a miserable shame–
A teen, complaining about his stepped-upon toes.
I know the message on his shirt shouldn’t predispose
My judgment about the cirmcumnavigation
Of students in this station.

·  Student 5: As the bell rang I saw a boy with long stringy hair and an obscene T-shirt. He seemed to be angry with the student body president. In a really whiny tone, he said that the student body president had deliberately stepped on his toes. And that was that. He rushed to his seat.
This is something I get. When someone who goes out of his way to annoy you, even dares to touch you, it drives you wild. But after you’ve made a big deal out of it, I don’t understand just going and sitting down like a coward. I saw it clearly the other day in class.
Personally I would never show up with hair like that and a shirt like that. But anyway, you know, when the long-hair boy carried on about the other kid stepping on his toes, he went and sat down and that was that. Algebra as usual. Just let any jerk step on my toes. He’ll be meatloaf.

·  Student 6: Get real. If the administration of this school expects us to give an account of what happens in class, then they need to allow us to use our phones.

·  Student 7: Onmygosh! Eight o’clock? time for class! Everybody here! Aren’t we bored! What a face! What hair!. And his shirt is the most ridiculous! What’s happening? Stepped on his toes? Fight! Fight! Go man! Gouge his eyes out! Go! What! He’s just going to go sit down? And do Algebra? What’s the big deal about his shirt? What did it say, anyway?

·  Student 8: Well, you know, class was starting, so, you know, I went in. Then I saw, you know, a kid, who caught my eye, sort of. I mean, you know, his hair was past his shoulders. Then he started to, you know, yell at another kid. He was, you know, stepping on his toes. Then he went and, you know, sat down.

· Student 9: I was there. I was an eye witness. So what are students getting out of this to testify? How many:
1) points on my average
2) dollars
3) community service credits
Make me an offer.

· Student 10: Some of us walked into class together. One boy, who just doesn’t look very intelligent, spoke to the boy next to him for a few minutes. What’s to notice? Neither one of them is worth my notice.

·  Student 11: At the beginning of class, packed together like sardines in can, or to keep the metaphor from wobbling, like non-free range chickens in an industrial factory installation, a rooster with bright feathers, started pecking at a quiet one. There was squawking but, trained to be passive and obedient, they quickly settled down in the coop.

·  Student 12: One of my friends got into an argument with the school suck-up goody-goody. And the school blames my friend because of his T-shirt. I’d warned him.”You’re never going to get away with that T-shirt.” Whatever really happened, he’ll get blamed because of that T-shirt.

·Student 13:  Isn’t it bad enough to have to write in English class? All those rules get in the way. But since this isn’t a sonnet or a short story or even a 5-paragraph theme for the state test, I can manage. I won’t be bothered by the editing process, which ruins every impulse I have. Something happened in class today. Kids were rushing to their desks. Even though the teacher was late, the aide was here, and she’ll take points off our homework if we’re late. Am I getting off track here? Shouldn’t the writer set the scene? One boy had on a shirt that was
1) obviously brand new
2) in violation of the school dress code
His hair was
1) squeaky clean
2) in violation of the school dress code
The just-elected student body president said something to the long-haired boy, who replied with angry words I couldn’t make out. There seem to be a bit of body touching and then the long-haired boy sat down.
Conclusion: The student body president will never violate the school dress code and will always be squeaky clean, and I’d sooner trust a rattlesnake than him.

·  Student 14: Algebra
Bell rings
T-shirt offense
Student shove
Discipline maintained.

·  Student 15: It was neither a castle nor a hovel, but the property of the school district, a classroom. It was neither midday nor evening but early morning. It was neither a baby nor an old man, but a teenager. It was neither a parade, nor a brawl, but a shove. It was neither a pleasant person nor an evil person, but a teenager. It was neither a truth, nor a lie, but a pretext.

· Student 16: I was rushing to be on time for class–and not just because the Algebra teacher takes off homework points if we’re late; I’m the kind of person who wants to soak up all the knowledge presented, to take advantage of the wonderful opportunities my dedicated teachers offer. I was relieved to get to my desk just in time when an annoying slug who disregards rules all the time, blocked my way. I’ll admit it. In an attempt to function in my role as student leader, I took advantage of the milling about that’s always there right before the bell rings to step on his toes and dig him in the ribs with my elbow. He slunk away before I could tell him, just to annoy him, that the shirt he thinks is so cool is on sale at K-Mart.

·  Student 17: I was pleased with my shirt that day. It was new and had an in-your-face message sure to annoy the principal. I know the administration tolerates me because my test scores are high, so I push the button. That slime X was standing by my desk. He tried to bum me out by saying my shirt was rank. Sometimes I think I’ll just kill one of these stupid-ass suck-up kids in this class. This particular one, on the whoop-de-doop student council and a major teacher suck up, particularly ticks me off.

·  Student 18: Something happened? What did I miss?
·  Students 19-32 did not turn in a response

·  University Staff Development Officer with Student Enablement Grant from U.S. Department of Education: Great communities alone can provide phenomenological guidance with the essentialities of temporal coincidences. The philosopher who occasionally enters into the futile and utilitarian inexistentiality of a classroom can perceive therein with the lucidity of his pineal eye the transitory and faded appearance of a profane consciousness afflicted by one boy stepping on another’s toes. This matter, void of true entelechy, occasionally plunges into the categorical imperative of its recriminatory life force against the neo-Berkleyan unreality of a corporeal mechanism unburdened by conscience.

·  Guidance Counselor: In a classroom 30 feet long, 32 feet wide, filled with 28 students at 8:05 a.m., a person identifying with the masculine sex gender 13 years, 3 months and 15 days, 5’4″ tall and weighing 108 pounds, exchanged information with a person identifying with the masculine gender aged 13 years, 6 months, and 4 days, 5’7″ tall and weighing 152 pounds, by means of 14 words whose enunciation lasted 5 seconds and which alluded to some involuntary displacements of about 18 inches. Then he went and sat down about 3 feet, 9 inches away.

·  School Board Member: School personnel are too quick to blame parents for student behavior. Many parents, I find, are too busy working two or three jobs to be responsible for their child’s adherence to the school’s dress code, homework, or discipline policy. The school offers money to bribe students into class attendance. Can you imagine getting 20 bucks from your public school teacher for doing all the Algebra homework?

·Union President:  Teacher time is valuable and in short supply. Are we getting professional development time to provide answers to this question?

· Teacher Next Door: The class was nearly full and the teacher was grouchy. This isn’t surprising, considering the pressure to raise the standardized scores of these buffoons. Kids these days have no sense of responsibility. If they did, it wouldn’t be necessary to take roll and check homework. Responsibility is the word all right! When I was in school, we knew education was a privilege and a ticket to a better life. When the federal government gets involved, this is the result.

·  Teacher Across the Hall: One boy had ugly long hair and a T-shirt with a message that couldn’t be repeated in polite company. They ought to send such roughnecks to a special school, so they don’t interfere with the education of students who want to improve their lives. The delinquent accused the other boy of stepping on his feet. Then he sat down.

·  Teacher from School Across Town: It’s a class, reserved by the corporate-industrial imposed rules of engagement for students deemed ready for college prep material suitable for the elites in a hierarchical domain; the bell, a tool of the oppressive factory model of schooling, rang. A male, 13 years of age, with hair length indicating a willingness to challenge the boundaries established of those corporatized minions in positions of authority, entered at the same time as other students of his same privileged socio-economic status. When the class bully, entering at the same time, deliberately stepped on his toes, the long-haired male responded in a strident tone and then sat down for more of the incessant test prep demanded by federal policy.

·  School Nurse: Thanks to information supplied by the CDC, I am up to date on reporting bites by horses, pigs, cows, cats, turtles, and macaws, as well as injuries incurred while roller coaster riding, crocheting, and playing a brass musical instrument [see Wall Street Journal 9/13/2011). I am also aware of the CDC coding for amoral, antisocial, dissocial, and A-type personalities but can’t see that they are much more helpful.

·School Custodian: Shit happens. 36 times a day. During this incident, no paper was scattered, walls defaced, toilet paper affixed to the ceiling. I don’t know about additional gum stuck under desk tops or the bottom of student chairs. I refuse to check.
·Assistant Principal in Charge of Discipline:

Dear Parent: Please be advised of the following facts which greatly hamper the successful scholastic progress of your son. On Dec. 2, he appeared at school with hair length and T-shirt in violation of our established dress and discipline codes, which parents and children sign at the beginning of the school year. I happened to be an impartial and horrified witness to this disturbing violation of our established codes. This office requests your presence on ________ to provide information about the facts and attitudes you will employ to address this situation so it will never occur again.