I think I can safely blame the loss of Tiffany, Steve and Penny on The Blue Books. They were wire bound workbooks that felt as old as the school. I feel unable to write. I have such loathing for these books that I am blind and mute. I feel helpless to describe them properly.
The reason that they are hard for me to describe is because their description is irrelevant. It wasn’t their color or cheap binding that made them despicable to me. It was the insult. The assumption that we needed the Blue Books was a blow to my intellect. Inside the blue cover and held together by the wire binding was a manual. The lessons taught note-taking techniques, studying techniques and other valuable methods for becoming an ideal student. These lessons weren’t taught on a college level, they were taught on a junior high level. The Blue Books had been written for remedial high school students.
Instead of being The Head of the Class, we were being treated like the back of class. Instead of being the cream of the crop, we were being treated like the dregs of the barrel. It has been almost twenty years and I’m still angry about this. I’m having trouble describing the incredible blow to my self image that the Blue Books made.
My paranoia jumped in immediately. It all made sense to me after the Blue Books. Here was a group of kids who performed extraordinarily well on the SATs, yet their grades were lagging. Sure, they were getting pretty good grades, but they weren’t getting straight A’s, like their tests show that they were capable of. I suddenly knew why Suzanne Clark hadn’t been invited. Her grades were immaculate. There was no reason for her in that class. I can just see the men making the decisions asking themselves, “What do we do with them?” Instead of assuming that we were doing poorly because we were bored, they decided that we must be doing poorly because we didn’t have good study skills.
We hated those Blue Books. We fantasized about burning them. I worried that I would have to pay to replace them, but that didn’t stop me from dreaming of them going up in flames. Every time Mr. Johnson’s patient and calm voice would tell us to turn to the Blue Books, we would groan.
Quite frankly, they weren’t very good. For example, one of the note taking techniques involved folding a letter size piece of paper into four. Each of the four blocks would represent a concept and every time the teacher said anything about any of the concepts, we were supposed to write the item in its appropriate box. This note taking technique requires that the teacher tell the students ahead of time the various concepts that will be covered during the lecture. In all of high school and college, I’ve never met a teacher who lectured in this manner.
To this day, I hate those Blue Books. They represent every time any person underestimated me. They make me feel violent. If I could kick the people who decided on this curriculum in the balls, I would. How dare you think that I don’t have the skills when you morons have been boring me for years?!
03/13/04 Part 6