Surrealist Doodle

Surrealist Doodle
This was used as the cover of Karawane in 2006 and I have included it in on a number of bags and postcards over the years. Someone on the subway asked me if it was a Miro. I was very flattered!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

A HISTORY LESSON, OR GOLDIBOOKS & THE BANKING TEACHERS

I had to write this for my teaching class. It's based on Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed. I had fun writing it and I thought I'd share it and see if it works outside of the context of my class.

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On stage are three classrooms. The first two classrooms are virtually identical. The have a blackboard at the front of stage and seats in rows, full of students. Students should have their back to the audience, facing the teacher, who will stand at the front. The first two classrooms should either have a student in every seat but one or be empty. Student responses are done with voiceovers unless otherwise indicated. The students in these classrooms always speak in unison, whether live or in voiceover.

The third classroom is arranged in a circle and should have a student in every seat but one. The teacher is also seated.

The teachers may be male or female and need not be the same in each classroom. However, three should be a teacher present in each room regardless of whether live students are used or not.

GOLDIBOOKS is the only person who moves between scenes. GOLDIBOOKS can be male or female.

All the lights are down in all three classrooms.

The lights come up on the first classroom. U.S. HISTORY is written on the blackboard. GOLIDBOOKS comes wandering in and sits down in the empty seat (or randomly, if the seats are all empty).

TEACHER #1: There are the important dates you must know. They will be on the test. The United States became a beacon of democracy to the world on July 4, 1776.

STUDENTS: July 4, 1776. Beacon of democracy.

TEACHER #l: The constitution of the United States, which secured freedom for all Americans, was signed in 1787.

GOLDI BOOKS: Excuse me? The constitution didn’t really secure freedom for anyone but white males until much later.

STUDENTS: 1787. Secured our freedoms.

TEACHER #1: The United States has continued to be a shining example of democracy to this day. The United States liberated Europe from the Nazis on June 6th, 1945. June 6th is known at D-Day.

STUDENTS: D-Day. Nazis. June 6th.

GOLDIBOOKS: A lot of other countries were involved.

STUDENTS: Shining example.
TEACHER #1: The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 represented America’s victory over communism. Capitalism, or democracy, won. The small wars we must fight now are against those who hate freedom and resent us for it. But we will prevail, just as we did over communism.

STUDENTS: 1989. Capitalism. Democracy.

GOLDIBOOKS: Capitalism isn’t the same as democracy. There were a lot of factors involved in the fall of communism. What about the complexity of issues in the middle east and the role of the West?

STUDENTS: Hate freedom. Communism. We will prevail.

GOLDIBOOKS leaves and the lights dim, but do not go fully out. The TEACHER continues quietly saying things (these can be nonsense or can be from a book) and the students continue quietly responding. Meanwhile the lights go up in classroom 2. SOVIET HISTORY is written on the board. GOLDIBOOKS comes in and sits down in an available seat.

TEACHER #2: The Russian Revolution was in 1917. This led to the formation of the first worker’s government in the world and was an inspiration to people struggling everywhere against capitalism.

GOLDIBOOKS: Actually there were several smaller revolutions before that one, including the Provisional Government.

STUDENTS: 1917. Capitalism. Workers. Inspiration.

TEACHER #2: In 1945, the Soviet Union helped to win World War II. America often takes credit for it, but without the Soviet Union, the other allies would not have been successful.

STUDENTS: 1945. America takes credit. Soviet Union.

TEACHER #2: After that, we established the Eastern Bloc. To ensure their protection from both Fascists and capitalists, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Hungary, and part of Germany.

GOLDIBOOKS: But people in those countries weren’t necessarily better off. They were persecuted for disagreeing with the government,

STUDENTS: Poland. Germany. Saved from Fascism.

TEACHER #2: Other countries, like Cuba and China were so inspired that they, too, had Communist Revolutions . . .

GOLDIBOOKS gets frustrated and leaves this classroom too. The lights go up on CLASSROOMS 1 & 2 for a minute or two and the students responses are heard playing over another in a cacophony so that it is difficult to tell what they are saying.

The lights go down slightly, but not completely, in classrooms 1 & 2 and the teachers and students continue talking and reciting. This can be nonsense or can be read from a book.

Lights go up all the way on classroom 3 and GOLDIBOOKS goes in and takes a seat.

TEACHER #3: Ok, class. So let’s talk about what you read last week. What is democracy?

After a brief pause, a student raises his/her hand.

STUDENT: Government by the people.

TEACHER #3: Good. Now, what’s an example of a democracy?

GOLDIBOOKS: Well, that’s a pretty reductive view of democracy. Aren’t we going to discuss it further?

STUDENT #2: America.

TEACHER #3: Very good. Now . . .

GOLDIBOOKS: There are a lot of other examples of democracies. There’s England and . . .

STUDENT #2: Nuh-uh. England is a monarchy.

GOLDIBOOKS: Well, a constitutional monarchy, but it’s still . . .

TEACHER #3: (As if nothing happened) What is communism?

STUDENT #3: Where the government controls production.

TEACHER #3: Very good. Can you name a communist country . . .

GOLDIBOOKS: Technically the workers control the production, we just haven’t really had any examples . . .

(No one reacts. Instead there is an awkward pause as the other students don’t know what to say.)


GOLDIBOOKS: Well, Venezuela is sort of Marxist. And there’s Cuba, and . . .

TEACHER #3: Past or present. (Still no response) Can you think of a country that broke up into smaller countries . . . (Still no response) The S. . .

STUDENT #4: S . . .Soviet Union?

TEACHER #3: Right.

STUDENT #5: I thought they were a dictatorship.

TEACHER #3: Yes, well that’s the way communist countries were run.


GOLDIBOOKS goes running out of the room disgusted and exits. There is no response from students or TEACHER #3. For a minute, the lights go all the way up on all three classrooms and all 3 continue with their lessons at a regular to loud volume culminating in a cacophony so that it is difficult to tell what they are saying. When after a minute or two the cacophony hits a fever pitch, FADE TO BLACK.


In Theatre of the Oppressed, at this point, the lights would go up and there would be a discussion with the audience of the three classrooms and if there is an alternative..

1 comment:

High Quality Art Products & Supplies said...

Banking Teachers are the intelligent teachers..
Thank you for the post..