When reading Percival Everett’s book of poems titled, “re: f (gesture)” there’s a section named Logic. Logic is the shortest of the 3 sections in this book. When reading through Logic, there’s a poem that caught my attention and intrigued me. The poem that intrigued me is the 3rd one in the section. The third poem speaks about memory, “Does my memory of you consist in parts? Simple, component in parts?” (Everett, 67)
Poem 3 is an interesting one in my opinion. This is because I’ve always been fascinated with the mind, and why we as humans do what we do. The part of the poem that sparked my interest was the first couple sentences I mentioned earlier. “Does my memory of you consist in parts? Simple, component parts?” (Everett, 67) I’ve learned that the mind does amazing things to protect us from trauma, like blocking out an event from your memory. This is like a defense mechanism for our body, and our mind. According to a Science Daily article, “According to McLaughlin, if the brain registers an overwhelming trauma, then it can essentially block that memory in a process called dissociation, or detachment from reality. ‘The brain will attempt to protect itself,’ she added.” (Science Daily) By doing this, your brain does protect itself, it protects you as well from facing any heartache, or emotional trauma. “Dissociation causes a lack of connection in a person’s thoughts, memory and/or sense of identity and it’s extremely common to experience a case of mild dissociation. For example, if you’ve recently gotten ‘lost’ in a book or daydreamed at work, then you’ve experienced a common form of mild dissociation. A severe and more chronic form of dissociation is seen in mental illnesses and rare forms of dissociative disorders, such as dissociative identity disorder, which was once called multiple personality disorder. The same way the body can wall-off an abscess or foreign substance to protect the rest of the body, the brain can dissociate from an experience. In the midst of trauma, the brain may wander off and work to avoid memory. However, not all psyches are alike, and what may be severe trauma for one person may not be as severe for another person.” (Science Daily) When a major event happens the ensues trauma, your brain blocks that memory out, basically, it crumbles it up like a piece a paper and throws it away from your mind.
One question that popped into my mind while reading this poem, can logic be a sort of trauma? Can one person learn so much, that it just becomes so much, that the person must block out some pieces of knowledge and relearn all of that blocked out knowledge. I scrolled around the web and I found an intriguing article from Teaching Tolerance. “Students who are experiencing trauma can be retraumatized in school through poorly chosen readings, activities, and assignments. Gorski offers an example, ‘I often hear from students who are learning about racism in the past tense,’ he says. ‘For instance, they are reading To Kill a Mockingbird and learning about what it was like for people of color ‘back then’. At the same time, they are experiencing racism in school and in their communities in the present tense.” (Gaffney) This can be blocked out by students, because they are learning about it in the classroom, but it’s happening out of the classroom as well. Students might be dealing with this themselves, so, the brain blocks this, to protect them. “Outside of individual lessons, other curricular structures can harm students. Kass Minor, a consultant with the Teachers College Inclusive Classrooms Project, says one common policy that does real harm is tracking, the practice of sorting and separating students based on perceived academic ability. Although tracking may be intended to offer extra support for students who need it, the messages it sends are anything but supportive.” (Gaffney) One thing I learned when I entered the education major, and when I started working with kids in general, I learned to never display their academic work on for everyone to see. It not only embarrasses the child, but it also embarrasses the family as well. This is a form of trauma that some parents, even teachers, aren’t even aware of. I know some teachers may not intend for this to be the meaning of the display, but it ends up hurting and traumatizing the child.
A quote that is stated in the article by Cornelius Minor, “As teachers, we do things for kids because they are human, not because they will thank us or because we caught them being ‘good’” (Gaffney) This quote is true; kids are humans too. Kids have faults, kids get tired of learning for an hour straight, they have a short attention span. When they see something shiny, they stare at the shiny item. Just like in the movie “Up!”, when Doug see’s, well thinks he sees, a squirrel. He trails off for a second, and then comes back to reality. Kids are innocent enough, coming from a teacher-to-be perspective, give a child a break once in a while to have them go play.
“Can You Unconsciously Forget an Experience?” ScienceDaily, Texas A&M University, 9 Dec. 2016, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/12/161209081154.htm.
Gaffney, Carrie. “When Schools Cause Trauma.” Teaching Tolerance, 2019, https://www.tolerance.org/magazine/summer-2019/when-schools-cause-trauma.