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I am becoming increasingly sure that my History teacher’s goal in life is to establish his own Democratic People’s Republic. How do I come to a crazy conclusion like this, you ask? One thing: “re-education classes”. After school, every afternoon, for those year 11 History students who aren’t “good citizens”.

It all began on Tuesday, when we were given a wonderful assignment. In pairs (“like on Sesame Street”), we were to research and formulate a ten-minute presentation on a topic which would be assigned to us. It could take any form so long as we got the information across “in a coherent format understandable to the populace at large”, was “pretty”, and used primary sources and more than one viewpoint. It was then that one of my classmates, Terence, noticed the unusual heading at the bottom of the page — “Why are we doing this?”

A good question. This will help us develop a more complete understanding of the Cold War period. You will be tested on the information presented. This test will accomplish two things:

  • It will let me know who is not paying attention in class and might need extra help after school. (whether they like it or not)
  • It will let me know who is not willing to contribute to the overall learning environment of the class (dead weight) and may be in need of watching educational films about how to be a good citizen in school. (again whether they like it or not)

Yes, these are thinly veiled threats.

“Whoa, man! Are you threatening us?”

Yes, actually, if you looked at the bottom of the sheet you would see that I am, indeed, threatening you.”

“Oh my God, sir!” cried Tom. “You’re gonna make me come after school just for not paying attention? You do know that not paying attention is my favourite thing, right?”

“Yeah, what’s the point of all this?”

“Very well, let me explain,” declared our teacher. “Every afternoon for the rest of the term, I will be running special afternoon classes for anyone I deem to be in need of them. I don’t want to, but I am going to if you fail this assignment. Now, you can fail this assignment in two fun and exciting ways. Firstly, you can fail the test you will be assessed on. That’s the conventional way. Secondly, and far more interestingly, you must ensure that a clear majority of the class passes the part of the test you were responsible for teaching. If you cannot do this, I am going to assume that you are dead weight — taking without giving in return, if you like — and you, also, will be required to attend these special afternoon classes until you understand the principles of good citizenship. I guess you could call it re-education.”

“But I like my education now,” Terence protested.

“Too bad.”

“So… what?” asked Tom. “I don’t get it. Are you saying, like… if everyone else fails the test, you’re gonna make me come after school?”

“Yes. And not only will I make you come after school, Thomas, but I will make you come after school every day for the rest of the term.”

“Oh my God! But that’s so unfair! It probably, like, violates the Geneva Convention or something!”

“I think you’ll find that the Geneva Convention only applies during war.”

“Quick, everybody! Start a war! If you don’t, my afternoons are doomed!”

In the absence of any war, our class has just had to deal with the knowledge that this will be the punishment for any imperfection in our assignments. Sort of. Personally, I suspect that if our teacher even bothers enforcing his new rule, he’ll enforce them for (at most) two weeks, and then he’ll get really sick of How to be a Good Citizen at School and we’ll be free once more1. Still, the notion of “re-education class” even being necessary is very clearly a Communist principle, and there is also the war of words he began for no reason with the Legal Studies class…

Well, I suppose he has some reason. He has a vested interest in halting the steady flow of defectors from History to Legal Studies. When he came, there were eleven History students; by the start of this term, there were only seven. Dark days, comrades, dark days. Our wonderful class was suffering a prolonged and agonising death, eroded by those foreigners, those Legal Studies students, who kept crossing our border2 and enticing our people with tales of law and justice. Well, thought our teacher, let us entice those legal people with promises of bread. And so it was done. Our class now has eight people, none of which have received any bread. It might explain why we only got one (gullible) defector. Oh well! He’s stuck now.

So that has been my entry for the week. Hope you enjoyed! 😀

  1. Note: I did not tell my partner on the assignment about my suspicion. I don’t want to be wrong and get anyone doomed to two months of “re-education class”.
  2. The flimsy, shakes-when-you-poke-it border between 112 and 113…
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