I suggest that we all observe a minute of silence for that English teacher in Rouen: you know, the one who recently asked her students to observe a minute of silence for a certain mass murderer whose victims, children included, have scarcely been laid to rest in their graves yet. I realize that the pedagog in question has not yet been officially declared dead, but based on her recent on-campus behavior, her brain function has obviously ceased, so I say that we give her the benefit of the doubt and start mourning her passing right now, even if our loss is not yet a matter of public record.
Then again, one should probably never go by external appearances alone when deciding who should be consigned to the tomb and when. (Just ask Roderick Usher. He learned this fact to his cost in "The Fall of the House of Usher" by Edgar Allan Poe, and the Lady Madeline had every right to upbraid him for the gaffe, too, albeit the family doctor was the real villain of the piece, if you ask me, since he was the professional on the scene who "signed off" on the premature interment, without which approval the luckless lady would still be alive today -- or rather she would have still been alive yesterday, in the latter half of the 19th century, long after that whole unfortunate business -- and the family mansion, for that matter -- had "gone down.") So, on the off chance that this hammer-wielding teacher is still alive, notwithstanding the utter suspension of her reasoning powers, I have the following hopefully constructive criticism for her that may come in handy the next time that she's feeling sympathy for the devil:
Let us suppose for a moment that this emphatically publicity-conscious killer (a regular poster child for the adjective "premeditated") was, in fact, motivated by social forces (and, indeed, by social forces alone): Why didn't you bring up the subject with your professional colleagues with whom you might meaningfully debate the facts of the case in the faculty lounge of the lycée Gustave-Flaubert? Don't you realize that you are misusing your authority by implicitly pressuring your students into participating in an act of mourning that presupposes the infallibility of your own minority viewpoint on this subject?
This radical reductionist from Rouen is a classic example of the hammer-toting philosopher who thinks that every problem is a nail -- or a square peg in this case, and she's going to pound that theoretical peg into the round h*** of tragic circumstances, provocatively shielding a madman with the invisible but apparently omnipresent cloak of victimization, even at the risk of needlessly distressing the families of the much more obvious victims in the case.
Her pedagogical zealotry reminds me of the London school teacher who tried to excite her students' creative juices by falsely informing them that their school was under attack by Osama bin Laden. I mean, where were these school teachers when God was handing out the common sense?
Of course, she'd no doubt deny that the majority Western "take" on the tragedy IS common sense -- and more power to her in so far as she has a right to her own opinion -- but as a radical academic, she should know better than most people about the lopsided power dynamic that can develop in a classroom when the teacher approaches a subject with presuppositions and an agenda. It makes no difference whether these biases represent minority or majority viewpoints or whether they lean left, right or center. The teacher is ideologically bullying her students by dint of her position when, bypassing debate, she proposes activities that presuppose the correctness of a viewpoint that is, in fact, quite open to debate, thereby forcing class dissenters to either submit to these activities (thereby tacitly adopting the teacher's own political stance) or to muster enough pride and determination to say "no" to an authority figure (thereby risking embarrassment, possible chastisement and/or retaliation, from someone who is in a good position to provide them with all three).
Author: Brian Quass
Photo Credit: Laurent Bourscheidt