We all operate from an internal script, largely written by our experiences
from early on. Unless we are extremely adept at paying attention to the
slightest hint of subconcious motivation, we are directed, even dominated
by this script, without much of a chance to operate authentically, genuinely
in our lives.
This script often wreaks havoc in marriage. Life is swell, everything is
rosy. A couple meet, get to know one another, fall in love, enjoy hour
upon hour of bliss, entranced by the wonderfulness of the other. Then,
as logic would suggest, they get married. Upon the minister announcing
the pair now "husband and wife," a switch is flipped in each
and the internal tapes begins to roll.
Both husband and wife now play the husband tapes and wife tapes they've
separately formulated over the years by all of the husband/wife messages
fed to them. The internal drive tapes have very little bearing on the
actual relationship built by the lovers who just got married and far more
to do with the marital and post marital relationships they observed growing up.
And so the phrase arises, "you're not the person I married."
"No," if he could speak the truth, "I am an amalgam of
my father and of my mother's relationship to my father and many, many
other experiences buried so deep I may never know they are there. And
by the way, why aren't you acting like my mother?"
So it is that we are severely burdened by those messages burned into our
brains when we had little power to evaluate them. So it is we find it
difficult to behave authentically in our marriage.
While the scripts husbands and wives play out has a dominant role in my
practice, the internal, un-audited scripts play out in every facet of
our lives. And it is from that awareness that I assess the bizzare story
from Gwinnett County about an elementary school third grade math sheet
that posed several extremely peculiar word problems.
Among the word problems posed to the third graders were these three:
- Each tree had 56 oranges. If 8 slaves pick them equally, then how much
would each slave pick?
- Frederick had 6 baskets filled with cotton. If each basket held 5 pounds,
how many pounds did he have all together?
- If Frederick got two beatings a day, how many beatings did he get in
one week? 2 weeks?
The school contends the questions were interdisciplinary. They were blending
math with social studies. The children had been learning about Frederick
Douglas, a gifted orator, author, abolitionist and escaped slave.
The elementary school's student body is approximately 60% hispanic,
28% African American, 5% Asian and 4% white. The questions were purportedly
written by one but vetted by all nine of the elementary teachers from
So my concern is the school's obvious focus is on the slave aspect
of Mr. Douglas' history writing the third graders' internal script.
These kids are around nine years old. What chance do they have of identifying
the peculiar bias of the questions, whether they were written from a racist
view point or from an outrage of slavery view point. Either is possible;
only an investigation will reveal which is accurate.
What is certainly accurate is that the focus of the questions was not math.
They weren't even accurate historically. Mr. Douglas never picked
cotton. He never picked oranges. He spent most of his young life working
inside, not outside. And while he was beaten by his last "master,"
Edward Covey, Mr. Douglas fought back, beating Covey. After losing the
fight to Mr. Douglas, Covey never attempted to beat him again.
What also is not accurate is the math. Each tree had 56 oranges? How many
trees? You can't answer that question.
If the teachers wanted to include social studies interests in Frederick
Douglas in their math questions they had much better, more affirming issues
to draw from. For example, they could have asked, "In 1848, if 300
people attended the Seneca Falls Convention on women's rights and
a majority were opposed to passing a resolution proposed by Elizabeth
Cady Stanton on women's sufferage, and, after Frederick Douglas spoke
in favor of the issue stating, 'In this denial of the right to participate
in government, not merely the degradation of woman and the perpetuation
of a great injustice happens, but the maiming and repudiation of one-half
of the moral and intellectual power of the government of the world,'
the convention attendees reconsidered the resolution and it passed by
a majority, how many more people were persuaded by Mr. Douglas' words
to support sufferage for women?" Okay, not a good math question,
but I was always better at social studies.
But the point is that these unfortunate third graders now have a firmly
embedded internal tape based upon their teachers' focus. And the children
will grow up acting, somewhat, somehow, in accordance with that script.
And because it won't be authentic, because it won't be a genuine
response to whatever prompts that tape to run, the children will be the
more limited for it.
And so are we, when we act in our married lives from scripts we learned
long before we said, "I do."
The Manely Firm, P.C.