Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Ghost Story

 There's a story I've come to tell my students each year round  Halloween time...about this old rickety classroom that sits in the middle of a forest atop an ancient hillside on the outskirts of town... a story of creaking desks and shadows in the corner of your eye, footsteps in the dark and doors that suddenly slam shut, windows I find open after I've closed and locked them the night before.  A story about ghosts.  Yes, my classroom is full of ghosts.
 You see... there was a battle fought here once.  Soldiers from an island far away who came on ships with guns and canons and fought natives in loin clothes that carried sticks... and after many years civilized them... put them in stiff collard-shirts and neckties and laced shoes... taught them medicine and art and commerce... until the old natives from these mountains grew tired of watching from afar and defeated these invaders with ancient force... pushed them back into the ocean and stuck their severed heads on poles.
 Until years later when another army came... this time from a country so vast it couldn't be comprehended.  This country was welcomed as if a brother... and very quietly, very silently, they rounded up all the doctors and teachers and professors and artists and writers and intellectuals and stripped them on the beaches and drove nails through their hands and sewed them to one another and dropped them in the ocean.... slaughtered them.  All of them.  Every person with an original idea or thought... dead.  The only people that remained... were savage.
 So once again they came down from the mountains...this time to fight for their lives... but they were crushed.  They perished in every way.  Beaten.  Tortured.  Starved.  Burned.  They were broken and outcast.  They were reduced to servants and beggars.  Nodding heads.  Blinkless eyes.  Forever departed.
You can still hear them... their voices calling out ...  a warning.  That the way we lived was wrong... that they way we learned from one another was wrong... that this new army that has invaded is far worse than anything that has come before... this new army from countries even farther away.
So here's to all you grammar teachers in Asia... here's to hours and hours of your passive voice and your irregular verb drills...here's to your fill-in worksheets and your multiple choice tests... your rote memorization homework and standard test of achievement.. here's to your Oxford leveled text book and your Princeton vocabulary list... here's to copy and paste and cut and conform... here's to refusing to teach literature because you simply are too lazy and power-hungry to learn how.  Here's to repeating the same mistakes but keeping all the keys to the kingdom.  Congratulations to you... O grammar teacher, sitting on your puny grammar throne.   I will not join you.  You've succeeded in destroying this place....and turning us all into dust.

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