Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sophomoric Utopia, Part 1

I have a really unique job: grading essays for a private high school. I am finishing up a set,  written by sophomores who just finished reading Orwell’s Animal Farm, on creating a Utopia. I generally do not enjoy the sophomore’s essays for various reasons, but this topic intrigued me; and while some of the compositions were far from stellar, a few were quite thought provoking and gave me cause to consider how I would create a utopia.
Utopia:  An ideally perfect place, especially in its social, political, and moral aspects.
A majority of the students incorporated laws into their model societies, many of which included the Ten Commandments, and some of which were hilariously well thought-out. 
“If you are strict you can make sure most of the people will not commit any crimes, though there will always be the mentally ill people, and you can never tell,” said one student, whose society was a cross between a dictatorship and state of martial law. That’s right kid, the mentally ill are who generally commit crimes, and you can never tell what? Who is mentally ill, or who else might have it in them to be criminals?
Another pupil, who’s cynicism I found refreshing and disturbing, asserted, “They will not even know they are being brainwashed and you all can live in a  false utopia.” He must be a pessimist masquerading as a realist (like my husband), because he really could not even create a utopia for an essay--he kept going back to the fact that it’s impossible to form a true one, but that we could “reeducate” people in such a way to create a faux utopia. He didn’t really say if he thought that was a good idea or not...

...Read the rest here.

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