Aug 28, 2013

Here in Colorado, students are partaking in an activity that would make Ayn Rand turn in her grave. Douglas county students are now wearing their personality type, ostensibly to tell each other and the teachers what kind of learning environments they respond to best.

No longer do the teachers actually have to get to know the students – Now, they can just look at their color tag. Sounds great, right? Well, what if certain personality types are unwanted by the school officials, such as “easily distracted”, or “subjectively listens”, or “disrupts the class”? I’m pretty sure they have color codes for these types of personalities, even if they don’t come out and say it. They probably correspond to certain colors that they tell the kids and parents has to do with “big imagination” or “outgoing”, but in reality are alerting other teachers to this “problem child”.

Regardless, this all has to do with labeling: Labeling yourself, labeling others, being comfortable with others labeling you…in reality, it denies the very nature of children. As people grow and come to be aware of themselves and others, they change. I’ve seen many children, once rowdy and inattentive in class, transform into totally different people once they enter high school. These labels may seem like a great idea now, but tell that to one of these kids who was labeled as something in 2nd grade, and was unable to escape that label through middle and high school, and is now dropping out of school altogether. A new school year, which once brought a clean slate and a new opportunity to escape the labels of yesteryear, is now simply going to be a continuation of their torment and frustration.

To quote one of my favorite reads, Brave New World:

 The Director walked slowly down the long line of cots. Rosy and relaxed with sleep, eighty little boys and girls lay softly breathing. There was a whisper under every pillow.

The D.H.C. halted and, bending over one of the little beds, listened attentively.”Elementary Class Consciousness, did you say? Let’s have it repeated a little louder by the trumpet.”

At the end of the room a loud speaker projected from the wall. The Director walked up to it and pressed a switch.

“… all wear green,” said a soft but very distinct voice, beginning in the middle of a sentence, “and Delta Children wear khaki. Oh no, I don’t want to play with Delta children. And Epsilons are still worse. They’re too stupid to be able to read or write. Besides they wear black, which is such a beastly colour. I’m so glad I’m a Beta.”

There was a pause; then the voice began again.”Alpha children wear grey They work much harder than we do, because they’re so frightfully clever. I’m really awfully glad I’m a Beta, because I don’t work so hard. And then we are much better than the Gammas and Deltas. Gammas are stupid. They all wear green, and Delta children wear khaki. Oh no, I don’t want to play with Delta children. And Epsilons are still worse. They’re too stupid to be able …”

The Director pushed back the switch. The voice was silent. Only its thin ghost continued to mutter from beneath the eighty pillows.

“They’ll have that repeated forty or fifty times more before they wake; then again on Thursday, and again on Saturday. A hundred and twenty times three times a week for thirty months. After which they go on to a more advanced lesson.”

Roses and electric shocks, the khaki of Deltas and a whiff of asafœtida–wedded indissolubly before the child can speak. But wordless conditioning is crude and wholesale; cannot bring home the finer distinctions, cannot inculcate the more complex courses of behaviour. For that there must be words, but words without reason. In brief, hypnopædia.

“The greatest moralizing and socializing force of all time.”