Furthest Right

My introduction to the world of make-work and adult bitterness

In fifth grade I was infuriated when a new obligation was introduced in addition to our actual studies. It was called an “assignment notebook.”  Once you received your homework in whatever subject, you then had to write down that you had homework in whatever subject…

I know, I know – what if we forget between now and two hours from now, right?  We’re a bunch of crazy rambunctious kids, after all.  But if you can’t remember your assignment, why does it follow you would remember your assignment notebook?  Maybe we need an assignment notebook for our assignment notebook!

Further irony:  the teachers would not even necessarily check that we were doing it daily.  Instead, they would just collect it intermittently.  Most of the students would just scramble at the last second to fill in old assignments that were over and done with before the teacher was going to collect them to make sure we were actually filling it out.

This will teach you how to get organized they said.  But what about the kids who were already organized?  I already had an “assignment notebook” called “my brain.”

The whole thing is subtly patronizing.  If you don’t have homework, you should also write down that you “don’t have homework.”  Do I have homework tonight?  Let me check my assignment notebook – nope, looks like I don’t, good thing I wrote down, specifically, that I “don’t have homework.”  If I had left it blank, I would be wondering whether I didn’t have homework or whether I had just forgotten to write it down altogether.  “Always make sure you write enough so you know exactly what to do.”

I truly believe that this is a situation where good intentions to help lesser students becomes a way of hobbling gifted students with minutiae.  It’s one thing to simply encourage keeping an assignment notebook but they factored it in to your overall grade.

I believe they gave it up in high school.  But fifth through eight grades was enough time to condition the kids to a world of bureaucracy and unnecessary paperwork. Welcome to the “make-work” reality of adulthood, kids. Woohoo.

This is very much an example of what Plato and crow say about enfeebling the mind by relying on words or books to tell you what to do and/or think.  Your brain becomes lazy; instead of doing stuff because you want to accomplish an inner goal, you do it because it’s simply written down in your assignment notebook.

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