Cheating was on the rise.
Students scribbled on slips of paper vigilantly stuffed in their socks, behind the labels of the water bottles; they wrote on the soles of their shoes, under their GSA wristbands, and inconspicuously shuffled it under their “extra blank sheets.” They copied notes off the teachers’ desks, and frantically asked students from the previous periods what was going to be on the test.
This was nothing new.
At some point, students realized teachers were subjective rather than objective; and that school was not a learning experience, but a harsh marathon for social survival where nothing mattered more than the grade. You weren’t an individual, you were a percentage. Your GPA told people everything they needed to know; it determined your future, your life, your happiness, and your existence.
But getting to the prized 4.0 was not a game of merit, but a long, harsh gauntlet of chance. A nonstop mindgame full of manipulation and busywork designed to make you crazy. But above all things, you had to survive it--- chug on, keep running, keep swimming. Though after a while, it became too much.
Overworked, under-slept, overstressed students filled in the blanks as expected--- That Edgar had blond hair and Heathcliff was the Devil, that n = 49, that Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492 and that the car on page 45 of The Stranger was red, not blue. Yet as one blank closed another one opened, causing their drill-ridden minds to climper the same piece over and over again, on command and without a second thought.
Out of tune…
Their eyes grew heavy and their footsteps plodded through the same routine day after day, and eventually they did not notice where they ended and auto-pilot began.
Out of tune…
They would talk with their friends, then turn around and let their smiling mouths crash down into a frown. What was supposed to earn them happiness gave them misery, and resulted in the frown they wore in their hearts and that occasionally flickered through their shineless eyes.
“At least they pay attention. That’s all I care about.” The substitute teacher told Zach, “Then I can get my paycheck and go home.”
“That’s not right.” Said Zach.
No one listened. They were too busy cheating.