More assignments from our Activity Book thing.
(Sharon really loves her musangs, snakes, and vagina-shaped flowers.
The pencil-handwriting on my assignment page was already in the activity book before we started using it. I think it’s my dad’s notes. The poetry is from the final verse of Isaac Watt’s "When I Survey The Wondrous Cross". I want to link to a Youtube video, but most of the versions on there are really naff.)
From our Activity Book.
(Gave Sharon this assignment because it was Anti-Drug Day 2014. A cop gave the morning assembly speech in the school behind our house. “Don’t smoke! If you smoke you will want to smoke marijuana, and then you will want to take ice and heroin, and then you will get AIDS!”)
From our Activity Book project.
(One of my favourites! She isn’t exactly like the one in the story — which I wrote partly for Kazimir Iskander's porno comic series; that one is in a different pose, on a different part of the body, because plot. But Sharon's has attitude, and seems to suffer no fools.)
I’ve been videoing the morning assembly sessions of the Sekolah Kebangsaan next to our house - I set a videocam up on a tripod on our side of the fence. I was interested in capturing how Malaysia’s authoritarianism happens in everyday life, far from the center of power. Today things got meta. In her speech the headmistress mentioned that she was ‘disturbed’ by people putting cameras up, and maybe ‘something could be done about it’.
1. No one likes being watched. People in authority especially hate and feel threatened by it.
2. Presence of cameras can be upsetting to power and social structure. Suddenly our relationship to the school has become charged. No longer content to ignore each other, we now have questions about our respective agendas/point of view.
3. Instead of coming over to us and talking personally, the headmistress chose to use her public authority as head of school with a loudspeaker in her hand to speak indirectly to me in veiled threat. This reflects how my video camera must have made her feel. Imagine, without the presence of students and other teachers at the assembly, how her authority completely disappears.
4. I wonder what the students think about it and whether this disrupts their daily experience of relentless top-down authoritarianism disguised as ‘discipline’ and instilling ‘good moral values’. Are they forced to take sides?
5. Will I continue to put the video camera in such an exposed place?
6. Something a friend (who homeschools her kids) said keeps playing in my head: sekolah adalah kilang menghasilkan askar dan pekerja. Schools are factories that produce soldiers and workers.
7. It is not really the education system that needs to be reformed. We in fact have a pretty good syllabus. It’s the authoritarianism. And those roots go deep. All the way to the rot.
From our Activity Book — but, if you’re seeing this, consider yourself invited to the NO PRESSURE PARTY - 22nd February, Lot 1699 - it’s my birthday!
(Me being Zedeck. I mean.)
(Incidentally, The musang on his treasure-trove of nangka is a reference to Tolkien’s "Conversation With Smaug" illustration.)