is a place for reflection and expression. It does
not take the place of active learning, listening,
and expression for you, the reader. Instead, it should
inspire you to rise up and give voice to your experience.
If the writers have not inspired you to change, they
have not done their jobs. And if you, the reader,
are not making an active change, you are not doing
your job. We all have a responsibility. This responsibility
is to ourselves, to our mothers and our daughters,
to change our world for our generation, and the generations
that are to come.
Rachel Bloch, editor,
How to Become More Than a Container
There are many good reasons for remaining a Container,
but the important thing is that you realize that it's
never too late to become more than a Container and
become an Active Learner. "Learner," you
say? "Of course I'm a Learner. I've learned History
and Science and
" Yes, of course you have.
You've usually learned it in a way like this: come
to class not trusting your own experience and knowledge,
or that of your fellow students. In fact, ignore these
other students, for they may potentially be your enemy.
Instead, come to class and always believe, rely on
and memorize what the teacher at the front of the
class is saying. Let your brain, your soul--in fact,
your entire self, become an open, unquestioning Container
for what the teacher is saying, no matter how absurd.
The teacher has a piece of paper called a degree that
legitimizes him or her, and pieces of paper mean a
lot around here. When class comes to an end, kindly
close your Container back up so as not to spill the
absurdities in front of friends or family. No, only
access your Container for a future quiz or test date.
As stated earlier, memorization is vital to the Container
System. We are all aware the Container can only hold
so much, and that is why the Container loses much
of its memory of old absurd things to fill it with
new ones every semester. Passive. Easy.
Since you learn to become a Container in the classroom
in this country around age 5, you can easily adapt
it to everything else in life as you get older. This
Container thing will get you pretty far. If you can
be a Container all day long while in class, watching
t.v., eating, or just walking down the street, then
it's good. You can get a good job where you can remain
a Container and sometimes, you get people to be Containers
for you and you can fill them up with trash, too.
Like I said, easy. You might memorize many trivial
things, but never really have to think. Thinking will
be done for you and handed down to you.
once in a while, though, you might question something.
This is your opportunity to become more than a Container.
The first step is to accept the fact that you, as
a human being, have the natural right to question
things, even authority. Be aware, though. Once you
take the first step in becoming an Active Learner,
your whole life may very well change.
The second step may take a while to actually manifest.
Let me explain. See, it's one thing to question something
in your mind and let it burn inside of you. But it's
another to put a voice to what you are experiencing.
This can be intimidating. You might get so caught
up in the authority you've already granted the teacher
since the minute you first entered the classroom,
that you are scared to truly question what he or she
said. It's true, you have blindly invested your life
into this teacher for the next semester and you want
to protect your projected earnings. It is at this
time, however, that you must realize something: yes,
we need teachers, but they also need us. In fact,
if they knew anything, it's that they, too, should
be students, learning from us the way we wish to learn
from them. Unfortunately, teachers rarely center the
teaching around the 30 or so students that are actually
paying their salary. Instead, they center the teaching
around themselves and their biases. That is why your
voice may be intimidated to speak. At this point,
just remember step one--you have a natural right to
use your voice. It's only when your voice is not used
that you are in real jeopardy.
The third step is taking a good look around you.
If you are sitting in a classroom, do it now. Who
do you see? Obviously, people that are here to learn.
Now, look deeper. Learn deeper. Every person sitting
around you has had a wealth of experience that they
can share with you. In other words, every person sitting
around you is your teacher, not your competitor. They
are not here to do better or worse than you; they
are your equals, and they are here to teach you. They
might not have that piece of paper yet, but they are
legitimate human beings with a story, with many stories.
This is your community for the next few months. Be
aware of them. Talk to them. In some classrooms, it
has been because of the students that I even learned
The next step is a bit of a mystery because sometimes
you take it without even noticing it. Somehow, once
you become active in a classroom, you become active
in your whole life. Watching the nightly news on t.v.
is no longer just watching the nightly news on t.v.,
it's a Learning experience in deciphering information
from propaganda. Walking down the street is no longer
just walking down the street, for we've all walked
down different streets in life, and you'll start asking
yourself, "Hey, why are there less trees on this
street where the poorer folks live? Why does the trash
get picked up more often on this street where the
rich folks live?" Even sitting down to a meal,
you'll start asking questions. "Where was this
lettuce grown, and how? Was it grown in a laboratory
and injected with ingredients that might give me cancer
in twenty years? Or was it grown by humans who earn
per day just about what the head of lettuce cost?"
It won't stop. I've already warned you, Active Learning
might change your entire life.
Here comes the final step, which at first may be
hard to grasp. Perhaps it's hard to grasp because
we have been so conditioned in the Container System.
In that system, your final step is when you get that
piece of paper, and you get to stop. You're done.
You can pursue different pieces of paper, all in the
same way and you will be satisfied because you can
measure the exact beginning and the exact end and
put it all in a frame. How nice. In Active Learning,
however, the final step is one that will never end.
You are always taking that final step; you are always
becoming an Active Learner. There is no homework;
there are no tests. No one will give you a piece of
paper because no one can judge you with personal biases.
I challenge you to take the first step. Once you start
truly Learning, you will never stop.
Aura Bogado is a student at Santa