tell us this is going somewhere

One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a fantastically fun text to teach.  It’s rowdy, hilarious, a touch dangerous.  It’s about conformity and imprisonment, themes that will be of special interest to any student.  A section that is especially worthy of discussion is the revelation that all of the inmates save McMurphy are in the asylum voluntarily.  Why are they there?  A rich and puzzling question to answer.  At that point I always like to say, “it’s a lovely day outside today.  Why did you decide to come here, to this airless, windowless basement room to have me talk at you for two hours?  Why are you here, now?”

because we’re expected to be
because they made us
because we’re bored
on the off chance you’ll say something interesting
on the off chance you’ll embarrass yourself
because a friend is here
because we lack imagination
we have nowhere else to be
because it’s better than a job
because it’s  better than nothing
because we’re scared
because we’re curious
because we paid for it
it’s not so bad
who says we’re really here?
because we don’t want them to hurt us
because we don’t want to hurt them
we want a future
they tell us we have no future unless we’re here
we’re used to it
we hope you’ll teach us something
tell us something that’ll make us ready for out there
because you’re kind of funny
because this a break from our other classes
because it’s required
(at least we think so)
(that’s what they tell us anyway)
because it fits into our schedule
because this is where everyone else is
we don’t want to be left out
on the off chance something weird happens
it gives us something to do
we’re used to it
it’s not so bad
we want
hey, why are you here, anyway?
tell us
this is going somewhere


3 responses to “tell us this is going somewhere

  1. This is fantastic–I love this! What an amazing opener to class discussion; it makes me want to teach Cuckoo’s Nest (and I would, if not for the constraints of my program).

  2. I can’t teach it bc my current comp classes have an Asian Pacific American literature focus and the main text if anything, should be APA-related. But–I do teach a few short texts from various cultures (outside of Asian Pacific Islander), so now I’m thinking of maybe just using an excerpt from Cuckoo’s Nest (but man, that would really be out of context for the students)…but yah, I love your strategy here and I too, am trying to think of a short text (maybe from APA lit) that brings up the same points.

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