Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Congratulations James Tate, you are going to the Prom.

Congratulations are in order for James Tate. His school administration has decided he can attend the prom. You have probably heard the story already, but if not you can find it here. ( ). Since this article, his school has relented and is allowing him to attend the Prom.

But, that isn’t why congratulations are in order for Mr. Tate. Congratulations are in order because he stood up to bureaucracy and celebrated distinctiveness. Schools are temples of bureaucracy. Young people herded down corridors, into pens, where they sit for a predetermined number of minutes as they are force fed facts and knowledge. After the proscribed number of minutes, a bell rings and instruction is over, regardless of whether learning is done, or even if it had begun. The students are being prepared for the great world beyond the school, the world of standardized tests. 

In the midst of all this standardization, Mr. Tate did the worst thing imaginable. He was creative. He made his date for the prom feel special and unique. He did not text her, he did not twit her, he did not facebook her, he (along with three friends) posted on the school’s wall, literally, with large cardboard letters. “SONALI RODRIGUES WILL YOU GO TO THE PROM WITH ME? HMU –TATE”

Immediately the bureaucrats were stunned and threatened. A subject student had escaped and was now going ‘individual’.  Individuality threatens the very precise control over large crowds of subjects students and bureaucrats sense of power. Please do not get the impression that bureaucracy is all bad, I am sure there are some positive and productive aspects of bureaucracy. I would take the space to list them here, but I cannot think of any.

The school suspended Mr. Tate for his infraction of the individuality policy. The statement made to the public indicated that Mr. Tate had trespassed on school property and his actions were dangerous and “gosh durn, somebuddy cudda gotten hurted.”

It is quite apparent that not one bureaucrat from that school has bothered to observe the student parking lot at dismissal time. Hypnotized hoards of subjects students exit the building, their mind numbed with thoughts of Pythagoras, the Marshall Plan, and visions of participles dangling in their heads. They get into their vehicles and the rush of freedom fills their blood. The roar of engines coming to life fills the air and it is a drag race to the exit. It is my observation that the male students engage in this escape behavior too.

Therefore, despite bureaucratic pressure to maintain mediocrity, inhibit individuality, and support the status quo, the school has relented and allowed James Tate to attend the prom.  Therefore, we congratulate Mr. Tate, not because he can go to the prom, but because he stood up for creativity, he was not afraid to step outside the box celebrate his date’s individuality. He decided Ms. Rodrigues was special and deserved to be asked to the prom in a memorable way. The moment he and his friends acted on his plan he won. 

Congratulations Mr. Tate. 

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