What Cho learned


What Cho learned


<p>April 20, 2007<br />
<p>Natalie Solent (Essex)</p>
<p>Nikki Giovanni found one of her Creative Writing students a trial.</p>
<blockquote><i>"And every class I&#39;m saying, &#39;Mr. Cho, take off your (sun)-glasses please, take your hat off please. Mr. Cho, that&#39;s not a poem. Can you work on it please,&#39;" Giovanni recalled. "And then I finally realized that something is not wrong with me, something is wrong with him, and I said to him, &#39;I&#39;m not a good teacher for you.&#39;"</i></blockquote>
<blockquote><i>One day, she arrived and found her class of about 70 students had dwindled to fewer than 10. When she asked a student after class about it, he confessed that "everybody&#39;s scared of (Cho)." Giovanni later had him removed from her class after she threatened to resign.</i></blockquote>
<p>Why did it have to come to that? Imagine if every class <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cho_Seung-hui">Cho Seung-hui</a> had attended had taken place at the invitation of the teacher- an invitation that could be rescinded at any time.</p>
<p>In reality his memories of school were of <a href="http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2007/04/19/national/a090738D77.DTL">humiliation</a>, but imagine if, from the age of twelve onwards, or from even earlier if your imagination can stretch that far, school had been an option he could choose if he wanted it.</p>
<p>What if Cho&#39;s concepts of "school" and "college" had been formed by classes like the Karate class <a href=http://www.brianmicklethwait.com/education/2003/01/karate.php">described</a> by Brian Micklethwait?</p>
<blockquote><i>What struck me, so to speak, about these "martial arts" classes was that although the children present may have supposed that all there were learning was how to be more violent, what they were really learning was no less than civilisation itself.</i></blockquote>
<blockquote><i>The children were all told to get changed into their Karate kit in an orderly fashion, and to put their regular clothes in sensible little heaps. They all lined up the way he said. They all turned up on time. They left the place impeccably clean when they&#39;d finished, all helping to make sure that all was ship-shape and properly closed-up when they left.</i></blockquote>
<blockquote><i>Were these children being "coerced"? Certainly not. They didn&#39;t have to be there, any more than The Man had to teach them Karate if he didn&#39;t want to. If they wanted out, then out they could go, with no blots on their copybooks or markings-down on their CVs.</i></blockquote>
<p>Having reached the age of twenty-three, Cho was no longer forced to be taught - but his teachers were still forced to teach him and his fellow students to associate with him. True, there were a few last ways out from his menacing presence; the students could jeopardise their education by skipping class and the teacher could jeopardise her career by threatening to resign. Unfortunately by the time these sanctions were employed Cho had already got away with too much.</p>
<p>I sometimes think that practically every problem, inefficiency and cruelty of our education system has at its root compulsion. People who are forced into each other&#39;s society tend not to behave well to each other. Wherever the doors are locked, be the locks visible or invisible, those inside seem to revert to the hierarchy of the baboon troop. There is still room for free will: most do no worse than learn a few habits of obsequiousness or sullenness that can be shaken off. Cho was not forced to become a mass-murderer. (In fact I see his own claim to the contrary in his video as a sort of twisted acknowledgement of this fact; the thought that "I don&#39;t have to do this" had to be actively denied.) No, he was not forced to pull the trigger - but force did play too large a part in his life. Imagine if the doors had been open for the bullied Cho Seung-hui to walk away, or if the adult Cho Seung-hui had been shown the door at the first sign of discourtesy. Imagine this was the case not just for Cho Seung-hui on certain pivotal occasions but for everyone on all occasions. Then, I think, he would have learned differently.</p>
<p>Original Source: <a href="http://www.samizdata.net/blog/archives/2007/04/what_cho_learne_1.html">http://www.samizdata.net/blog/archives/2007/04/what_cho_learne_1.html</a></p>
<p>Licensed under <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/1.0/">Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 1.0</a>.</p>


Natalie Solent




Brent Jesiek


Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 1.0




Natalie Solent, “What Cho learned,” The April 16 Archive, accessed June 15, 2024, https://april16archive.org/items/show/266.