Monday, November 25, 2019

dominance games, and grouping by age

the grade as problem

at school we can grade,
as in fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth grades,
for homogeneity calls to us,
treat each 11 year old as the same,
as if rough chronological age is determinant,
that academic, social, and emotional needs 
are best addressed within similar age,

I ask my middle schoolers
if their friends are the same age, the same gender,
and, if they are, the four years of our middle school,
then can have, 1/8 as potential friends,
if all genders, yet the same rough age, ¼,
add a year, and it’s ½,
add all four years
and the pool of potential is huge,

the temptation to yield to the illusion of homogeneity
clumps people together who are often 
fighting the same developmental challenges,
and they easily slip into dominance games,
a way to differentiate self from the competitive other,
too much like them,

I contend that connections between genders, between ages,
helps the better of one’s self transcend into dominance over the lesser,
away from when familiarity can tempt us into zero-sum games,
or even worse, into one’s success built upon a larger group’s failure.

by Henry H. Walker
November 22, ‘19

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