[November, 1988] The Joke’s on Me
Today we got some stupid class rules that have to be a joke. I can’t believe them. This is what they are:
To students who’s last names have more than 5 letters.
- Can not be monitors
- will be served last in the lunchroom
- May not use the gym
- Must turn in all books by tomorrow
- Can not recieve any grades higher than “N” on report card.
Forget the rest it was a joke anyway.
It wasn’t a joke as much as a classroom technique on developing an awareness of and empathy towards the victims of the Holocaust. And while I said I couldn’t believe it, let’s face it, I did. It’s quite possible that I was one of the last students to realize these changes to our academic life weren’t real. More than likely, in fact.
I still remember the outrage and frustration I felt as I furiously scribbled down those rules. This isn’t to say the experiment gave me any true inside perspective as to what Jewish people actually lived through during those years. You can’t compare concentration camps to getting a “Needs Improvement” on a fifth grade report card.
For a moment, the experiment even backfired, as I took the opportunity to hate Yanmei (whose last name was only three letters) just a little bit more because of the privileges I believed her to have. Nevertheless, this clever/sadistic class exercise did make me approach the Holocaust lessons with a greater sensitivity overall. No, really.