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Volume 13 Issue 2 September 2013

The Education Issue


CONTENTS

VOLUME 13 ISSUE 2 SEPTEMBER 2013

The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet. ARISTOTLE (384 BC–322 BC)

PROSE

POETRY

4

An Education in Love

6

Youth Drum

12

Benedictions

7

A Potion

15

A Warm Welcome

8

What She’s Learned

21

I Had No Idea

9

The School

22

Casablanca

11

Perfect Words

13

Dedo

14

The Imagination Proclamation

ROSE OLESEN

JAE SHARPE

JUSTIN SMIRLIES

LEON JOHNSON

RON BUTLER

ESSAYS 18

Under the Covers CLAIRE GRAHAM

Interruptions

20

Know Your Discipline

CASSANDRA MENSAH

KODY KOHL

COSIMO DE FRANCESCO

CHLOE STANOIS

16

10 Commandments

17

Human Scholar

JIM CAVILL

AMANDA COUTURE

MATT LONG

JOSHUA HOWE

Front Cover DIEGO JERI

2

JANET KWON

SHAWN TRASK

LITERATURE 10

FIORELLA MORZI

Back Cover DIEGO JERI

Inside Back DIEGO JERI


EDITORIAL Editor-in-Chief Fiorella Morzi

THE EDUCATION ISSUE

fiorella.morzi@blueprintmagazine.ca

Production Manager Jessica Groom jessica.groom@blueprintmagazine.ca

Literary Editor Janet Kwon janet.kwon@blueprintmagazine.ca

Art/Photography Manager Roxanne Nicolussi roxanne.nicolussi@blueprintmagazine.ca

Promotions Manager Stephanie Lesdow stephanie.lesdow@blueprintmagazine.ca

Radio Manager HIRING Interns Joshua Howe

CONTRIBUTORS Ron Butler, Kody Kohl, Cassandra Mensah, Matt Long, Cosimo De Francesco, Claire Graham, Jeff Hart, Jim Cavill, Amanda Couture, Shawn Trask, Leon Johnson, Justin Smirlies, Jae Sharpe, Chloe Stanois, Jessica Mitra, Cielo Jeri, Diego Jeri, RikkiLynn Wilson

ADMINISTRATION President, Publisher & Chair Allison Leonard Executive Director Bryn Ossington Advertising Manager Angela Taylor Vice Chair Luke Schulz Treasurer Thomas Paddock Director Kate Turner Director Shelby Blackley Corporate Secretary Alexandra Abbiento

Every time that I pick up a guitar, my fingers find the same four chords: G, D, Am, C. Though I’ve played them a thousand times, singing along with the melancholic flow of the pattern, I can’t help but feel it is an important learning experience. Familiarly, I strum to the beat of my pulse, and in this way I plant my feet firmly on the ground. I am suddenly aware of my aloneness, while connections between others and myself become real, heaving things, weighty with deep meaning. I learn that my song is part of a greater echo, joining the many colorful winds of women’s experience. Where and how we learn is fruitfully subjective. Though part of our lived experience is shared, the remainder is filled with unique moments; moments that are raw, poignant and, however fleeting, leave on us an impression both deep and lasting. Like the day I finished Audre Lorde’s book of essays and felt genuinely touched. Or the feeling of connectedness that washes over me when I first bite into a fresh apple—crispy on the teeth. Some of our most important lessons occur freely within a larger spectrum of activity: to understand learning, we must begin to understand difference.

CONTACT

The body of work in this issue reflects the contextual nature of acquiring knowledge. Our feelings prove time and time again to be rich educational sources, but the possibilities are truly endless. Within or without the classroom, dare to read for pleasure, or work the graveyard shift, or nurture a friendship, or, or, or. 



Blueprint Magazine 75 University Ave W Waterloo ON N2L 3C5 p 519.884.0710 x3564 blueprintmagazine.ca

Fiorella Morzi Editor-in-Chief

Advertise angela@wlusp.com blueprintmagazine.ca/advertise Contribute submissions@blueprintmagazine.ca blueprintmagazine.ca/contribute

COLOPHON Blueprint is the official student magazine of the Wilfrid Laurier University community. Founded in 2002, Blueprint is an editorially independent magazine published by Wilfrid Laurier University Student Publications, Waterloo, a corporation without share capital. WLUSP is governed by its board of directors. Content appearing in Blueprint bears the copyright expressly of their creator(s) and may not be used without written consent. Blueprint reserves the right to re-publish submissions in print or online. Opinions in Blueprint are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Blueprint’s management, Blueprint, WLUSP, WLU or CanWeb Printing Inc. Blueprint is created using Macintosh computers running Mac OS X 10.5 using Adobe Creative Suite 4. The circulation for a normal issue of Blueprint is 3000. Subscription rates are $20.00 per year for addresses in Canada.

NEXT ISSUE On the theme of “Fantasy” Submissions due October 4 On stands October 16

COVER Art by DIEGO JERI The illustration was created with the intention of portraying the fun aspect of education. No matter how old we are, we should always look at education the way children do, with wonder and excitement. It also reflects how nature should play a bigger part in school environments. My wish is that the viewers will feel the excitement and playfulness that the artwork brings, with it’s organic line work and bright colors. Let it put a smile on your face, and invite you to see education as more than learning.

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An Education in Love ROSE OLESEN

Grace and Elizabeth met at school. School ended. Each received permission from her parents to visit. This being a time when women were ladies, they went walking. Strolling arm in arm, pausing at shop windows, they talked of this and that, often commenting on what they saw. Sometimes they looked outwards and sometimes inwards. Certain displays increased their knowledge of human nature. These things they could not tell of at suppertime. The most delicious was when they chanced to pass an open window through which they could hear conversations thought private by the speakers. Did he really? And then, only to herself, each would wonder if that would be her life too, one day. Nevertheless, these moments ended in shared laughter for there were things they did not say to one another. When they looked inward they talked about their brothers and sisters; the things their parents did; and about how cabbage gave them gas no matter how carefully they chewed each bite and in this way they came to love one another.

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5


Youth Drum I am an awful student of the living-I prefer hanging around cemeteries, with dead poets Listening to the earth churn and slide to the sounds of verses read aloud or critters squirming against black dirt

FIORELLA MORZI

I am an awful student of the living-I delight in the scent of rotting bark, smoky leaves and near-extinct mosses Unaffected by blooming flowers, instead I admire the tumbleweed who shares its seeds to eventually fade away into the eternal wind I am an awful student of the living-My mentors lived once, in the 20th century I’d stick my head in a beehive, only to be closer to the purest of activities, to the infectious buzz of sweet existence

6

JEFF HART

I am an awful student of the living-Though I’ve got honeycomb in my lungs, my heart yearns for lessons learned out there on the border, that blurry line, where life meets dying one more time


DIEGO JERI

A Potion JANET KWON

Growing with every fact, every stat, But I’m becoming smaller, shrinking, down-right miniaturizing. Senses still alive, But where am I going? Who, or what Am I becoming? A paradox is blooming. I look for the trees, but I see only the leaves. I search for the lawn, but only blades of grass are seen. His stories, her stories, But there seems only to be History.

7


What She’s Learned CASSANDRA MENSAH

At age 5 she tugged at her mother’s skirt Desperate to show off her artwork Whether her mother’s look of awe was sincere Never crossed her mind As her confidence overcame her fear But when she turned 14 She spent countless hours confined on her bedroom floor Ceaselessly cutting t-shirts And shortening the length of her skirts To prepare for a week of school Only to measure its success By the amount of male eyes Wishing she’d undress And the year she blew out 22 candles She sat and stared at a screen from 9 to 5 Then plastered pictures from parties Across Internet profiles In the hope that others will falsely believe She is living the life of her dreams Yet her diploma has torn at the seams A decade later the wedding bells chimed And she devoted a lot of her time Cooking pastries the neighbours will love And cleaning the floor No longer feeling that she could take on the world There was always another chore When her first child was on its way Hope rooted itself in her heart And she prayed That self-love would find its place In the coding of her daughter’s DNA So that her mother’s approval wouldn’t lead her astray

JEFF HART

8


The School KODY KOHL

Haven’t you told us what to say? You want us to be mouths And ears with reaching brains You want us to be poets; You want our hearts to sweat, Die, return from the dead To show our busy hands Where the gold is buried In the next stack of essays Containing our tired tongues. You shout The roll call, gathering all Of the worthies, the people Who may not be present, but Present the most potential To shovel the coal, tormented Like slaves for The expansion of silk pockets And the contractions Of our seating area; The joy in a half day. Steady the frame, take our picture, Market the contours Of our intelligent, educated flesh.

9


CIELO JERI

Interruptions MATT LONG

Our teacher, Mr. Fletcher, had only stepped outside the portable door, but the class of fifth graders seemed to believe they existed in their own world. I could barely hear Moe as he babbled about getting his parents to buy him Jay-Z’s new CD after school. “Why do you think Mr. Fletcher’s been outside for so long?” I asked during a lull in Moe’s speech. “Someone’s probably dead,” Paul said. He snatched his thin notebook, flipped it shut, and slid it into his desk. “I bet school’s cancelled.” Moe leaned back and tugged at the collar of his black Raptors jersey. “Get real. Fletcher probably got canned.” “Why would they fire him?” I asked. “He’s been nice enough so far.” “They probably found out he doesn’t make us sign out for the washroom or something,” Moe said. He picked up the pen sitting on the desk, which belonged to Rachel, the girl who actually sat in Moe’s current seat. She sat in the next island over with

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her friends, where Moe usually sat. Moe scribbled a gun on the corner of her notebook cover. “He hasn’t been fired,” Paul said. “We’re only a week in. It must be something big.” “Come on,” Moe said, “he’s probably just photocopying.” The door cracked open and Mr. Fletcher stepped in. Scattered footsteps replaced the heavy conversation. Mr. Fletcher ignored the students as he lumbered up the aisles. The warmth of the morning sun pooled around me as Mr. Fletcher reached the front of the class. I wiped my forehead and dried the sweat under my gray shorts. Mr. Fletcher set a folded sheet of paper onto the thin, aluminum table at the front of the room. His face, which had a little more stubble than usual but otherwise had looked normal before he answered the knock at the door, seemed pale. He placed his hands on his hips and attempted a small smile. His arms and lips collapsed. Fletcher sighed. “I was outside just now speaking with Principal Popper.


Something… terrible happened down in the States about half an hour ago. I can’t tell you much more. It’s all just so hard to understand. But we’re going to try to have as normal a day as we can. But for now-“ Heather Pearson’s hand shot up. Mr. Fletcher stared wideeyed at it momentarily before he continued. “For now, I’d like everyone to observe a minute of silence. Please pray, if you’d like.” No one moved. Heather’s hand waved high. Whispers broke out from the back. His voice barely above a whisper, Mr. Fletcher said, “Please, everyone, bow your heads.” After a few murmurs, everyone bowed their heads. Most of the class folded their hands as well. When all twenty-five of his students had lowered their heads, Mr. Fletcher dropped his own. The class sat silently for a minute, but I couldn’t help but wonder what had happened. I couldn’t put my head down in respect when I didn’t know what I was respecting. But Mr. Fletcher sure seemed caught up. I tried to clear my mind but I kept wondering what happened until Mr. Fletcher said we could raise our heads. Heather’s hand shot back into the air. Mr. Fletcher hesitated before he cleared his throat and said, “If it’s about what happened, I can’t answer any more questions. You’ll just have to wait until you talk to your parents.” Mr. Fletcher waited for Heather’s hand to drop. It did. Mr. Fletcher turned to face the chalkboard. He clutched a piece of chalk, raised it to the board, and began to write the date when his arm dropped. Chalk swept the side of his jeans, leaving a long white streak. He didn’t wipe it off. He raised his arm and wrote the title of the religion lesson. Paul leaned over and elbowed me in the ribs. I leaned my head to him but kept my eyes on the board. “You think it was aliens?” Paul whispered. I shook my head. “Where’d you get that idea?” “You’ve seen the movies. Aliens destroy New York first. They could come up here next.” “Toronto would never be the sequel,” I said. “And Fletcher would’ve told us if aliens landed.” “Maybe a giant flood hit. Or-“ “Stop talking!” The chalk in Mr. Fletcher’s hand cracked against the board. He turned around and stared directly at Paul and I. His nostrils flared and he inhaled deeply. Mr. Fletcher shut his eyes. “Let’s just put a movie on.” The class burst into whispers of celebration. Paul tried talking to me but I ignored him and followed Mr. Fletcher as he walked to the back of the class to grab the cart with the T.V. on it. As he pushed the noisy cart towards the front of the class, a knock came from the door. Mr. Fletcher stopped in his tracks. His eyes were filled with dread as another knock pounded. He asked Robert, the boy who’s desk was closest, to bring the T.V. to the front and pop the tape in. Mr. Fletcher opened the door and quickly shut it behind him. The class erupted into noise again. My brother, Jack, made it home before I did. He sat in the living room, with the T.V. on. I’d never seen so much smoke before. The towers crumbled like a Jenga set. Dust flooded the streets. Through it all, the sky always seemed so blue. Jack tried to explain what the reporters said. But the more Jack said, the more I understood why Mr. Fletcher didn’t tell us what happened. Who could explain?

STEPHANIE LESDOW

Perfect Words

COSIMO DE FRANCESCO Just to start off, I am not a poet. But people see me as one though, Because when I write I want to rhyme every time, And this addiction is bringing me some friction. You. You know I am not a poet. But when I feel the urge, Before I write, Veins begin to pulse, Heart beats to the rhythm of a drum, Which can only be heard, Within the confines of my bedroom. Every image I ever had, covered, Underneath its dark blue paint. With no poster placed over them, But words which constantly occupy my mind. Chapter by Chapter, Page by Page, Every word continuing to another, Endlessly... Then I stop breathing... Air is still, body is calm, (Exhale) then I begin. I want to write the perfect words, But I know I can’t. Every thought formed in my mind, The flashes of words, Love, hate, lament, myth, nature... Formulating around my brain, Surging more words and phrases, Unknown, knowledge, thought, sight... Which hit the page in disorder, Leaving me trapped beneath my pen.

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Benedictions JAE SHARPE

I went and walked around campus one last time. There was a loud spectacle going on in the quad that I heard before I saw, so I wandered around the hallways and concourse for a little while before going to Where the Benches Were. I don’t know how to not miss so much. All of these places and people will become ghosts in my memory, unaging and transparent against my will and against my aching fingers trying to hang on to what they meant. As if by reading some profound meaning into their appearance in my life, I could preserve them. I could not lose them. What I don’t realize is that doing so is exactly what I should avoid if I want to refrain from creating ghosts. I am bad at losing. Elizabeth Bishop can say what she wants; it is demanding. It requires slavish discipline in order to lose. Where the Benches Were is framed by the trees and you can see the depth of the looming arts buildings past the rows of lanterns and the library off in the distance. It’s the place where I sat late into the night with my friend while she smoked and we talked about all things. Where I sat during the summer rainstorm reading creaky books and watching the sky be a god. Where I hung out after another class because I wanted to postpone going home, much like I did that last night. Where I perched on the top step on the chilly morning in February when I smoked and read Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World, and was too shy to speak to one of my profs who was smoking a few feet away before we had class together. What you have to say still burns from your throat, wraps itself around your neck and drags you unwillingly forward. I spent four years studying language but I am still learning how to speak these things. This one place summarizes everything that has made me. You won’t find an endgame. What you want, what you’ve always wanted, is someone to speak for you. To have what you need to say said without it being you who has to say it. You’ve lived in perpetual denial of your own tongue;

DIEGO JERI

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you learn the tenets of how to analyze unreal figures with clinical precision and then adamantly, obstinately refuse to apply them to your own life. There is a very real danger that you won’t like what you come across. Let your skeleton stay buried in your body. This would be both simpler and cleaner if the irony evaded you completely, but it never has. You have the pinprick sense that you are being unfair, that you are aligning yourself on an impossible axis. What you can’t figure out is if this is truly unfair, or if it is something to expect, an ego, a human. Not that it would absolve you of your hypocrisy, but it would lessen the blow. The night before I leave, I dream one last time that we are there; a distorted, enormous variation of our university with much higher ceilings and halls, and more numerous and intricate stairwells. It’s late evening and the inside is all fluorescence. Hallways are glass and misdirection. We hold different visions of one another as we dream in unison: phantasms only catching distorted half-glimpses of the other as we try to work our way through the maze of halls in order to make our paths intersect. I look above my shoulder and see you through a glass wall disappearing out of sight as you walk up stairs, only a flash of your satchel hinting at your escaping presence. I want to shout, “Wait!” Wait for me. I would feel safer being in your presence in this place of edges and multiplicity. I feel that if I could only reach you, could only walk with you, I would be locatable. I would be safe. I would know. We could go out and sit at the one place on campus that I remember. And so I frantically try to weave through the grand, tricky space of this university in pursuit. The semblance of any self-assuredness is what I want to be able to offer up as a sacrifice in order to learn humanity, but I can’t quite do it, not yet. Not even after four years. Maybe I’m flying far away to catch up.


Dedo

CHLOE STANOIS You taught me to be strong, and work hard for what you need You taught me to never give up in order to succeed You taught me to be kind, through the stories that you told You taught me to stay young, and to never grow old You taught me to be generous, and to always give to others You taught me the importance of helping one another You taught me about hardships, and what it must have used to be like You taught me about growing up in poverty, and making a new life You taught me to travel and you taught me to explore You taught me to keep learning things I didn’t know before You taught me how to flourish and survive on my own You taught me how to build a foundation, and a place to call home The lessons you taught me, and the values that I’ve earned Are the most important things I have ever learned I wish I asked for more stories, and I wish I had you today, But Dedo, I want to live like you in every single way.

DIEGO JERI

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The Imagination Proclamation SHAWN TRASK

Creative Process. Hmm‌ Dimensions of Self: Spiritual. Emotional. Intellectual. Intuitive. Physical. Imaginative. It is said imagination brings forth creativity. Creativity is built by dimensions. Dimensions of self divide intellectually but are emotionally intuitive through spirit. None of this has physical evidence. Sometimes, though, it shines through. Physical presence is content formed by colourful adjectives and stylistic insight. The words have symbolic meaning, one can suppose but possibility is no closer to actuality than the transfer of thoughts from being to being. It is said imagination is the driving force behind those thoughts. Hiding. Perhaps sometimes so much that thoughts are slaughtered. Perhaps in pursuit of a wordless idea. Perhaps an indescribable concept may seem worth the sacrifice of what can be. Perhaps it is the wet dog on the broken back step. It must not die. It is said. Fuck it, dude. Let’s go bowling.

A$APCIELO ROXI JERI

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A Warm Welcome JUSTIN SMIRLIES

You’re staring at a blank page. You haven’t slept, ate or even had some sort of contact with the outside world in more than 24-hours aside from your mom calling you to ask if you’re coming home for the weekend. But that’s far from the point here. You haven’t showered. You haven’t drunk in a week. And you’re staring at a blank page with a number of questions that you barely recognize. They somewhat look like this: “4safnb9 nbaskjn3 n129gn 1kj2b4 8bao9h? Write a short, but in-depth essay on this.” What does that even mean? What kind of hieroglyphics are these? You look around the room and everyone — equally as smelly and sleep deprived as you — is buzzing away, letting the ink from their pens just fly onto the page. Word upon word. How do they do it? And your pen remains still. Stuck. It’s unable to communicate and is just as mute as you have been the past week studying for this goddamn final. Then your stomach gurgles to such a point that it’s audible within a 10-metre radius. Someone looks over and stares at you. You shrug; hoping that they don’t think it’s you. Oh, they totally know it’s you. “45 minutes left,” you hear from the front of the auditorium. Whew. That’s not too bad, you’ve got some time. “20 minutes left.” Wait! What? What happened? You were just looking at the clock and it was fine. Time must’ve escaped. Your hand begins to move in motions, but your thoughts are incoherent. You’re not even sure of what you’re writing. “It is evident because of [blank],” you write. Evident? What’s evident? Where’s the evidence? Who is this Evident that you speak of? But you continue, writing some semblance of phrases and sentences. You’re adding arrows linking missing information from the side of the page to the main text. You scribble. “Five minutes.” Already? You’re writing as fast as you possibly can and things are just looking like lines. Swirly lines. Yeah, the professor will definitely think I’m a complete failure when they read this. I should retake this class probably. Yeah, probably. “Please hand in the exam,” you hear from the front of the room. You’re adding the final touches to your poorly written essay. “And this,” you write. “And that,” you add. You hand it in. You walk home. You crash on your bed and wake up four hours later. You’re a mess. Get yourself together. But it’s done, right? It’s over. You don’t have to think about it until you log onto MyLearningSpace next week to check the marks to see how bad you did and how much money you’ll have to cough up to cover the big, fat “F.” A week passed. Come on, MyLS, tell me the bad news and get it over with. “B-.“ Hm. And that’s how it will happen for the next four years. Welcome to post-secondary education, folks.

ROXANNE NICOLUSSI

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The Ten Commandments of Academia JIM CAVILL

Thou shalt study the word of your God, The Text, And repeat it ad infinitum, Until the Professor sees that it is good. Honour thy Professor and thy T.A. Thou shalt have no other commitments, Besides studying, For The Text, thy god, is a jealous God. You shall have no life outside of it. Thou shalt not use Wikipedia, Except as reference, Even when the Pharisees and Professors do so hypocritically. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s Business Degree. Thou shalt not covet thy rival’s football team. Thou shalt not plagiarize the Word of The Text, Into graven images, for thou shalt be condemned To academic probation. Remember to keep holy the Sabbath, Friday, And endeavor to schedule classes around it. Thou shalt not bear false witness in group presentations. Didst thou really do half the work? Thou shalt not murder academic ideas. Except Freud. Always dump on Freud.

ROXANNE NICOLUSSI

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Human Scholar AMANDA COUTURE I was born to transform the men I love into better men I cover them in wartime I invest in them in peacetime He always asks me, Do you love me? He is suspicious, though he doesn’t want to admit it, because I am too imaginary, and because I believe in him You see, the kind of men I love don’t think that they are worth anyone’s belief

When he opens his heart to me confessing he doesn’t know how to make it I nod saying Yes and touch him, but thinking You have no idea of the hells I’ve pulled men out of I was made to heal I have been studying people all my life, learning how to strip a person down to themselves as they really are, to find holes, to build Now I am a human scholar

I spin the world and all its light to reflect and relay all the good in a man all the strength I lift people up

DIEGO JERI

When I lead a man to the light they can find it next time on their own He wants to find me as I have found him He wants to help me in return So I let him He starts changing himself without even knowing it thinking he is changing me Crafty

I help the men I love push themselves away from me My friends tell me that I should keep my men a little low so they stay My friends mean to warn me But they don’t understand I want my men to leave And they aren’t mine

(I know we all belong to the light)

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Under the Covers: Sex. We all do it at some point or another, so why is the discussion around ‘sex’ still so taboo? Speaking from a personal standpoint, the majority of my knowledge surrounding sex didn’t come from what I learned in school. It came from what I learned during my lived experience. Why is this? Is it natural to learn as you go, or should there be some foundation of knowledge before you reach your first sexual encounter? Like most teens, I learned some information from my mother, but the majority of what I knew about sex I gleaned from my friends and the Internet. In my opinion, this is a wildly inappropriate substitute for factual information. According to the Internet, all women should be large breasted with hairless genitals, and all men should have a larger than average penis. This is not reality. We as a society have kept silent while generations of young men and women have endured embarrassing sexual encounters stemming from a complete lack of accurate knowledge. We have had a ‘miseducation’ in sex. Frequently, the only form of sexual education in public high schools is that which comes from a physical education class. Commonly, this involves learning about reproductive parts and their functions. It often glosses over birth control methods for women. Through discussion with my husband, I came to realize that his experience was much different than mine. He explained that his sexual education classes mainly focused on the male reproductive system and barely mentioned female pleasure or reproduction. No mention was given to the homosexual, transsexual or intersex experience. According to my husband, education in birth control consisted of teaching the boys how to properly use a rubber. Masturbation was something people engaged in but was never outwardly discussed. Similarly to my husband, my education was severely lacking. However, there were several differences between his sexual education experiences and my own.

JESSICA MITRA

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First and foremost, I learned extensively about the female and male reproductive system. This was probably the only part of my sexual education experience which was thorough. However accurate this physiological education may have been, throughout my entire experience in sex-ed I never once saw a photographic picture. All of the breasts, vaginas, testicles and penises I came across were black and white drawings of men and women who looked like gingerbread people from the 1970s. I certainly knew my breasts did not look like that under my shirt, but how was I to be sure a penis wasn’t some black and white blob? To my knowledge most genitals probably looked the same. I later came to realize that like eye colour, skin pigment and height, genitals come in many different shapes and sizes! I often think now that having ‘real-life’ pictorial references would have been helpful during my years of sexual evolution. It would have made me realize that normalcy was not what was depicted on the triple X screen, indeed everyone is unique and equally beautiful.


A “Miseducation” in Sex CLAIRE GRAHAM

Secondly, it angered me to discover that sexual education for men ignored all birth control methods with the exception of the use of a condom. The excuse: birth control is something the ‘other side’ deals with. As if there are sides in the game of sex, aren’t all participating members responsible for what happens in and out of the bedroom? Within the public school system, birth control seemingly was something women dealt with rather than men. Like my husband I learned about condoms, but was also informed of other methods. Some of the birth control options I was introduced to were helpful, such as the pill, but other methods were old fashioned and extremely outdated. For example: the sponge. After discussing birth control with friends, I question if women still use this method today. What about IUD’s or the patch? These methods were current, but were never discussed in any health education class I took. Do guys even know how the pill works, or what the term IUD stands for? For that matter, do you as a woman know what an IUD is? I would beg to say some women do not, and they may never have the courage to ask their practitioner about alternative birth control options.

Although I could choose several other topic areas for discussion relating to my discontent with public school sexual education, there is only one more concern that I will raise. This involves the narrow heteronormative lens through which sexual health is addressed. Nowhere during my partner’s or my education did we discuss the realities of the sexual experience for young people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer, questioning, intersex or two-spirited. It’s as if those individuals were erased; as if they did not exist. Maybe that was the point, the education system didn’t see these individuals as deserving of sex. In an effort to be politically correct, it saddens me that these voices were silenced. Although some may not agree with me for either personal or religious reasons, the public school system should focus on all sexual experiences. Without acknowledging that sexuality is a spectrum including a wide array of experiences, the persistence of intolerance will continue. To conclude my discussion, I believe it is the responsibility of us all to improve sexual education in younger generations. Be open to sharing and listening with young people, volunteer with a sexual health organization that addresses these issues with students, or simply be open to new knowledge about sex. Remember, one day you will probably have kids, and they will have questions. Are you going to talk to them using some mysterious language to describe sex, such as private parts, weenies or dubbies. Or will you be confident enough to speak clearly to them about genitalia? I have already had to answer some of those questions from my six year old niece, and let me tell you, they can get pretty interesting. Her questions can be frank, and sometimes shocking, but this does not deter me from providing her with accurate sexual information. This is because I want her to grow up to be confident with all aspects of herself, including her sexual identity. So go out there and re-educate yourself about sex. Learn something new that perhaps you didn’t know before. Share it with friends, and challenge them to share something with you. More than anything, let us open up the discussion of sex, and keep it from hiding under the covers.

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Know Your Discipline JOSHUA HOWE

Sam walked into the grimy school in a perfectly straight line, behind all his other peers who were also marching rhythmically inside. He felt slightly cooler as the sun disappeared and the grey-brown colours of the school hallway halfheartedly greeted him. He felt his eyelids grow heavy as he walked on, his body moving in a mechanical way. His mind felt fuzzy and lucid, as if threatening to power down at any moment. Everything in front of him was either grey or brown and the hues meshed so well together that they all seemed to be the same grimy colour. Sam blinked and yawned. Immediately, he heard everyone around him do the same. Blink and yawn. Ignoring it as usual, Sam turned left with the group of youths directly in front of him as other, smaller groups of students began shuffling off in different directions. Sam didn’t need to think or feel, he only needed to know. And he knew that he was entering the correct classroom as he followed people he’d never formally met inside a dark and dingy room that had all of the blinds drawn shut. Desks sat in neat, orderly rows; seven desks per row, eight rows in total. Sam blinked again and took the slightest bit of enjoyment in noticing (from what he could see) that no one else did so as he awkwardly edged his way through the rows until he reached his place. Row five, seat seven. Sam sat down heavily in the desk and stared directly towards the front of the room. There was an ancient oak desk there, covered in dust as it was not really used, and instead of where a blackboard would normally be (that’s what Sam had learned teachers in the past had used as teaching tools) there was a giant, metal board littered with dull buttons and rusted handles; none of which looked the slightest bit sanitary. Sam gazed aimlessly at the board in silence, his eyes holding nothing at all. No joy. No pain. No life. As soon as all of the students were seated and still as statues, the door to the room slowly creaked open and a large, broad-shouldered man sporting a grey suit briskly made his way over to the metal board, paying no heed to Sam or any of the others. He turned his back on them and began working away; pressing buttons, pulling handles and turning knobs. Sam heard the familiar whine of metal grinding on metal for a moment as the ceiling tiles directly above him and every other student slid open to reveal a humming bronze helmet that was topped off with two lights on the top; one red, one green. Stop. Go. Sam stared at the man in grey, watching him work in the poorly lit room as the helmet lowered itself snugly onto Sam’s head. The humming was louder now, entering Sam’s ears and sloshing all the way to his brain. He even heard this sound in his sleep. Sam watched the man pause for a moment at the board before proceeding to hit a single button.

20

“Please, close your eyes now and enjoy the learning process. If you should feel nauseous, dramatically cold or hot, dizzy or emotionally unstable, please let the technician know immediately. Thank you.” The woman’s robotic voice died out and the technician reached for a handle that was significantly larger than all of the others. Click. Sam had barely shut his eyes before he heard a ding sound and knew that his helmet was about to go to work. He took in a deep breath and let his mind wander even more so than it already was. Completely blank. Then, out of nowhere... Gene Hackman, born January 30th, 1930 in San Bernadino, California... John F. Kennedy was the fourth assassinated president and the eighth to die in office... Octopush is an underwater hockey game first played in South Africa in the 1960s... Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D., burying Pompeii and Herculaneum under 20 feet of ash... Images and facts exploded in Sam’s mind, flashing by in milliseconds and burying themselves deep into his subconscious; becoming part of him, becoming something like a memory. The sensation was raw and cold. The flood of information was overpowering and yet soothing. Sam knew his hands were balled up into fists on his desk and sweating, just like all of the other students. He could feel the helmet begin to shake a little bit, signaling the session coming to a close. And just as he thought he couldn’t take any more and was about to scream out in desperation, another ding sounded and Sam opened his eyes; the red lights on the helmets lighting the morbid room in an eerie fashion. Sam never looked at them directly, but he swore he could see the shine of sweat gleaming off of his peers’ foreheads in the light. The helmets began to recede into the ceiling all at once and Sam stood up slowly, groggily shuffling his way into a straight line with the other students. The line began to move and they made their way out of the classroom. Sam blinked. The man in the grey suit was gone as usual. The group walked out into the dismal hallway once more, joined by all of the other youths in mere seconds. They marched towards the same exit they had entered and somehow the doors swung open; Sam paid no heed to whoever actually opened them. Wincing as he did so, Sam stepped out into the mid-afternoon sunlight and stared at the ground, waiting for his eyes to adjust. As he gazed downward, his eyes flitted to the watch on his wrist. Huh. Four minutes. New record. Sam almost jumped. It was the first original thought he’d had in recent memory.


I Had No Idea LEON JOHNSON

RIKKI-LYNN WILSON

Growing up, I was never good at math, science, and English (you can leave the mistakes in, it adds to the point). I constantly found myself battling to stay afloat in school, constantly having teachers tell me “I’ll give you a 52 so you don’t have to take my class again” or “I passed you cause you’re too smart to be in summer school” or my personal favorite “Leon, I’m passing you because you tried, and you put effort in.” As the years passed I quickly realized that trying seems to be the definition of education. By early high school I realized that acquiring knowledge is not my strength, but my intelligence, my patience and my willingness to try is what brought me to be noticed by the school as an exceptional student even when my average out of grade nine was less than 70. This is probably why I was naturally good at classes like Phys-Ed, drama, technology, they don’t really need to have definite answers to problems. You figure your own way to the solution. By grade 10, the pressure to go to university was baffling. I knew it was not for me as it literally focused on writing essays, memorizing equations, and writing texts (test anxiety sucks) but, with cultural parents and teachers with high expectations (I was actually voted to be Canada’s first black prime minister), I did what any other intelligent person would. I fast tracked the courses I sucked at, got pitty marks for showing I wanted to learn (worked hard of course), so by grade 12 I didn’t have any math, science, or English. I took classes like acting, music, and Phys-Ed, and came out with an average of 92 over grade 11 and 12. I learned my strengths and weaknesses and I adapted. It wasn’t until university applications were due that I discovered I had a learning disability.

JEFF HART

21


Casablanca RON BUTLER

I learned more from watching Humphrey Bogart smoke a cigarette than I did from reading any book. When I was a kid, things were different. We grew up tough and we grew up fast. We road our bikes down alleyways like we were gangsters or PI’s from the 40s; like they were our streets. It was that small town complex that made us all want to be big city tough guys. Half of us barely had a dime to our family’s names, and the other half had it all; silver spoon in mouth. But all of us knew what we wanted; to get out of town and fast. I was 16 when I had my first cigarette, cruising around with buddies in my semi-broken down beater listening to Frank Zappa and the Rolling Stones. I was done with that tough guy shit and I knew I was becoming something else, I just didn’t know what yet. I used to talk with my friends about going to Africa and helping the poor and the sick but I still haven’t made my way there yet. I’ve made it to a lot of other places though, just nowhere really poor and nowhere really sick. When you get older there’s less time for the things you want to do when you’re doing the things you’re supposed to do. I did the university thing; got a degree or two. Studied my ass off between the good times. Drank wine and smoked grass under the stars while talking about Truffaut, Haneke and the Grateful Dead. Every once in a while we’d light cigarettes and quote old movies. I’d always quote Key Largo or The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. It’d bring me back to the old days, riding bikes with buddies through back alleys and side streets of our small, dying town, with nothing to do but shoot the shit and cause trouble. Whether our parents were around or not, all we had were each other and our cigarettes. Our senses of selves and who we wanted to be weren’t formed in our homes and schools; they were formed on those starry nights with nothing to do but ride around, singing songs and quoting old movies. I don’t get to do much of any of that anymore. Life seems to get in the way these days. Everyone’s busy and grown up, starting careers and making names for themselves; putting their degrees and experience to good use. And there’s nothing wrong with that! Hell, I value my education and my upbringing! It’s given me more knowledge and more worldly experience than I would have ever gotten on my own in two lifetimes. But every once in a while after I’m done school and I’m done work, there’s nothing that stops me from lighting a cigarette, tipping my hat down and thinking about what kind of trouble I can get myself into tonight. “Here’s looking at you, kid.”

DIEGO JERI

22



The Education Issue