Why is one of the most charged and potentially dangerous questions one could ever ask. Yet, we just can’t stop asking it. Who would have ever guessed that three simple letters held so much power?
Think back to a time when you were in school. You learned about specific dates, places, and people involved, and everything was fine…just fine. Then came the three most evil letters ever created w-h-y. Why did they fight for independence…why did the Crusades take place…why were people migrating…why…why…why.
Is there ever really a right answer?
According to some there are, and this is precisely why I am not a teacher, politician, or anything else where one may ask me why. This is also why I was never an English major, and why I transferred out of my Philosophy major.
It’s not that I don’t have an opinion…it’s that I value the plethora of responses that could stem from simply asking why.
What frustrates me, is that few in those fields have the same value.
My son’s English teacher asked one question (on a 40 point essay test): What role does gender play in the racism experienced by the author (in the book Coming of Age in Mississippi)?
Wow…um, that’s a loaded question, isn’t it?
In the book (why any 14-year-old should read this book is beyond me), the author relates her story of growing up poor in rural Mississippi. Her mother worked a variety of jobs after her parents divorced and as the author grew up and went to college, she answered the call for students to take up the Civil Rights Movement. She was involved in several protests, traveled to Washington, and eventually moved to New York and married.
That section of his term is over (thank goodness), but now we are on to poetry (good grief).
In an excellent poem that relates the humor of life and death, the teacher asked, “Why did the author use that word instead of another one?”
WTF? Where does she come up with these questions! Is there really a right answer aside from asking the long dead author to rise from the grave to explain it?
Why is such a loaded question because, for so many people, it relies on the assumption that there is, in fact, a correct answer. In school that means the teacher’s answer, in the workplace it’s the boss’ answer, and in the political arena it’s the majority ruling political party’s answer.
Rather than asking why…why don’t we start asking how?
How is such a wonderful word and full of possibility. How can we make the world a better place? How can we bring peace back to the US? How can we set things right?
Perhaps it is time for a change? How does that sound?
Yes, this post is a bit of a rant because my B-student is now failing English because of a dipshit teacher. I tried (I really did) to give her the benefit of the doubt when she gave him a D on the TKAM test because he didn’t think Jem was the mockingbird or that the mockingbird represented happyiness (that’s the freaking bluebird!), and I tried when she assigned the autobiography, and when she assigned a 5th grade book as an alternative, and I tried when she marked him off for using too many commas and references to the book, and I tried when we had parent-teacher conferences where she talked so much that no one could say a word, and I tried when she said they were only reading excerpts from The Odessy because it is too difficult, but I draw the line when he is told his interpretation of a poem was wrong, and when he is told he uses too many commas (he should use short sentences), and when he is told his viewpoint of the alternative book was wrong, and when he is marked wrong because he said race and gender do not influence each other, and when he turns in assignments but she doesn’t check her drop box until after the due date, and more importantly, when he is now failing her class.