Something bothered me when I was a kid at school. Actually, a lot of things bothered me when I was a kid at school, but that’s why I’ve adopted the format of this blog – so I can focus. One of the things that bothered me was the way teachers would constantly and consistently ask the entire class questions that no one in the class could possibly answer with any confidence. For example:
“Did everyone do their homework?”
Well I did my homework, but what you’re asking of me is confirmation that all 26 of my peers have also completed their homework, and I’m sorry but I just don’t have that information. Yet what are my idiotic classmates doing? They’re all calling out “Yeeeeeeeees” in a slightly disturbing monotone drawl. Why? How can they possibly know that everyone did their homework? Did they all attend a pre-lesson meeting to which I wasn’t privy whereby each member of the class verified the status of their homework completion so that should the question be asked they would be able to confidently respond in unison? Well obviously not, because little David Jenkins is looking a bit embarrassed and is shaking his head in a negative way suggesting that he, in fact, hasn’t done his homework – not that the teacher is aware of this, because the class is still yelling out “Yeeeeeeeees” in a creepy zombie chorus that is drowning out David’s rather weak protestations. Surely, Mrs Davis, a far more apt question would have been:
“Has anybody not done their homework?”
Then David could have simply put his hand up amid reverential silence, quickly and efficiently resolving the teacher’s enquiry. Now this approach may single out certain individuals but, quite frankly, they deserve it for not having done their homework. I did mine, for fucks sake, and missed a bloody good episode of Knightmare in the process.
Let me be clear, I’m not talking about rhetorical questions here; I’m specifically bothered by enquiries that demand resolution but might as well be rhetorical given the poorly articulated request for information. It isn’t limited to teachers and their classrooms – anyone working in an office environment will regularly get addressed by department heads and the like and will receive similarly unanswerable queries fired at groups: “Did everyone understand the presentation?” “Has everyone had their appraisal?” “Did everyone have a good weekend?” (Well I had a great time, but I can’t possibly speak on behalf of Monica who I believe had the shits for two days).