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Textbooks and Torture- Or How To Give Up The Most Sarcastic Way Possible
Part A: My Planning Process Is Not Exactly World Acclaimed
The guiding focus of this investigation is, "Man, I really hope Mr. Correia was lying when he said he's actually reading these things." The investigation will focus on the invention and development of this phenomenon known as the textbook, specifically the influence of the 1625 Meeting of the Elders in adapting the modern applications of the textbook. The methods for research and analysis focus largely on freaking out about the IA, spending a lot of time on Skype distracting people instead of working on the IA, napping, waking up in a panic, forgetting history, cursing history, giving up on history, and typing lots of random things that don't make a whole lot of sense. The sources that will be analyzed, predictably, include my feverish imagination, declining academic skill, and utter inability to care anymore.
Part B: In Case You Thought I Had Any Understanding of History Whatsoever
The earliest known textbook originated in ancient Sumeria. There, a popular game known as "teaching" was developed, wherein adults would throw clay tablets at people and laugh when they got hurt. For a time, this was a massive affair- stadiums, clubs, fantasy teaching leagues- but it was eventually deemed "bizarrely and senselessly barbaric," and so was banned by law. According to legend, one teacher (let’s call him Mr. Hill) held such an obsessive love for the practice he devised a plan to continue under the radar of authorities. This incredibly clever plan consisted of scribbling on the clay tablets before throwing them at his apprentice and not telling anyone about it. After Mr. Hill told the apprentice that the clay tablets he'd intercepted with his forehead were actually priceless artifacts, the apprentice became so distressed he committed suicide in the public square. The moral here was that teaching was an essential practice to be reinstated everywhere, because once legends get translated through eight languages, several thousand years, and my delirious comprehension they kind of stop making sense.
Teaching was adopted by Egyptians verbatim in their early days, but eventually people became very lazy. Why expend all that energy flinging enormous clay tablets at lesser beings when it was just as fun to watch them pick up the tablets and carry them on their backs to do irrational activities? The common theory is that pyramids were constructed for some kind of strange religious purpose. Clearly, this was a religion devoted to laughing at teams of slaves hauling reams of stones for 18 hours to build gigantic unused buildings. After all, according to noted historian Hannah Craig, "The only [expletive deleted] reason anyone would do something that [expletive deleted] pointless is either sarcasm or to mock people. Or maybe bacon. I would do a lot of [expletive deleted] for bacon."
With the invention of paper, the game of teaching became way less fun, and so the practice died through the Middle Ages until the 1625 Meeting of the Elders. The Meeting had many points of interests- oppressing the populace, the Black Death, why do we have to wear these giant hats- but the principal focus was a lack of effectiveness in torture as a way of reforming witches. They did not wish to simply kill every woman that looked them the wrong way; they wanted to change them meaningfully and send them on a path of righteousness to last for generations. The method they settled on was whacking them over the head with the Bible. I’m not sure whether they were intentionally trying to break every rule of biology and physics I can think of at the moment, but it was no matter. Smacking people with heavy objects was back in vogue.
In the Renaissance, knowledge expanded exponentially, and people wrote textbooks of all kinds. Math textbooks. Political textbooks. History textbooks. It was the Second Golden Age of the Textbook. After all, people reasoned, if witches can be taught faith in God by hitting them with the Bible, then shouldn’t a student be taught math by hitting them with a calculus textbook? Open season on students began. The mark of a brilliant calculus student became a thick neck, and most biology children died on the spot. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Mostly it was just fun to watch.
Part C: How To Do An Evaluation of Research Sources Without Actually Researching Anything
My first, foremost, and only source for this paper was definitely my ass. It's about two am right now, I ceased to care three years ago, I've just about forgotten what IA actually stands for (Individual Assignment? Implications of Asinity? Imaginative Asstalk?), and I'm not even totally sure why there are words on my computer screen right now. But there are. And so I sit here, typing and drinking Hawaiian-flavored coffee, because apparently Hawaii is a flavor now.
Once, I sort of cared about this project. I dreamed of the day I would heroically half-ass it the night before, using one print source and a hazy Wikipedian understanding. I would fabulously turn it in, get credit, feel vaguely unsatisfied, and reward my laziness with snickers bars. Then I forgot there was a project and spent a lot of time on Skype. Now I'm just kind of making stuff up, because I figure as long as I'm going to write something terrible and under-researched, I might as well write something so terrible and under-researched it's truly a brilliantly beautiful satire. Such is the value of this source: I'm probably going to finish something. Don't you want me to finish, Mr. Correia? Don't you want my voice, my interpretation, my love of history to be promulgated throughout the universe? DON'T YOU WANT TO COMPLETE MY LIFE'S WORK? THIS IS MY DESTINY. I WAS BORN. THIS. WAY.
(One limitation of this source is the amount of pounding dance music required to drown out the realization that I am going to fail out of history, IB, life, and the entire moral framework of the universe).
The origin of my ass is my DNA, so let's analyze my biases and credentials. My credentials are none. I have only a tenuous grasp of the timeline of history, gleaned from the back stories of various ethnic Disney characters and cracked.com. I am, however, very well-informed on the nature of textbooks. Despite the fact that I have never actually opened a textbook, I have carried around a lot of them (I hate you, Biology). A defining moment in my textbook-carrying life was my first week of pre-IB, when I was walking home from the bus stop and my backpack exploded. Any author who has experienced a textbook-related equipment explosion is probably going to be slightly biased against them, although if things like textbook-related explosions are possible maybe it's better to say that everyone who hasn't experienced a textbook-related explosion is biased for them. While the limitations of this source abound (I don't give a crap, I don't know anything, I'd like to St Peter whoever came up with the idea of HL History and bludgeon them with the IB-approved Course Companion, etc), all these oddities and quirks give my source a fresh and unique perspective on the established timeline of the history of textbooks.
(We're going to go ahead and use "oddities and quirks" to mean "sleep deprivation-induced paranoid hallucinations.")
Part D: The Only Thing More Magical Than This Is Whatever Is Keeping Me Awake Right Now
The modern textbook is a marvel of engineering; a perfect instrument of torture requiring no effort or ethics on the part of the torturer. Most historians argue that the textbook, as a learning device, bears no resemblance to such ideas presented in the 1625 Meeting of the Elders. Since I'm fairly sure the 1625 Meeting of the Elders was a fever dream inspired by my frantic stress surrounding this project and the carton of ice cream I ate at 11 o clock at night, this is probably true, but I have six hundred more words to B.S., so let's get this party started.
The idea of using books as a reforming device was truly revolutionary. Before the 1625 Meeting of the Elders, people wrote textbooks, but they only wrote them about God, so no one wanted to read them. Actually, I don't think people even could read during this time, unless they were a priest, in which case they could point at prayers and be like "This is significant." The 1625 Meeting of the Elders revived the idea of textbooks being more than vanity projects for underworked monks: they could be instruments of torture, punishment, and hilarity.
The philosophy of abusing people while simultaneously improving them has been around since the creation of Brussels sprouts, but nowhere is it more apparent than the arena of textbooks. The average IB student has approximately twelve thousand textbooks in their possession, which all weigh more than a human child. Most teachers, after foisting these monstrosities of existence upon their students, will then refuse to use them, some going so far as openly ridiculing the content. Then, after ridiculing them, they will designate special "work days" in which it is imperative that the student bring their textbook to class, in order to continue to not use them. Obviously, textbooks are not needed for learning. They are needed so that teachers can make IB backpack jokes and laugh at our pain.
More notably is the "mysticism" surrounding textbooks. In the Sumerian times, textbooks were fairly straightforward. You threw a textbook at a person, they became permanently mentally handicapped, it was hilarious. At the time of the 1625 Meeting of the Elders, however, textbooks were so seldom used they'd aroused an aura of mystery. What were these box-like things with squiggles? Important, decision-making people made no sense of squiggles, but semi-important people could point at squiggles and declare God's word. Textbooks were downright magical. As Hannah Craig so eloquently describes it, "Why does saying 12 Hail Mary's while dancing the [expletive deleted] on top of the pews erase sin? I don't know. No one [expletive deleted] knows. They just tell you to do [expletive deleted], and then drive you to Krispy Kreme if you do it. It's [expletive deleted] magic."
In modern times, students and teachers are equally likely to assign supernatural powers to textbooks. Teachers require "Course Companions" and "Prep Series," and then never mention them again. These textbooks do not exist to be read; they exist only to sanctify our rooms and give us a workout two days of the year. Students, too, hold bizarre overestimations of a textbooks ability to educate by existence. On test days, for example, it is a common practice to see students carrying around textbooks, but rarely do they actually open them. On days when three teachers decide to have tests, students will dutifully carry three textbooks to school, as if they had enough time to study for even one test, let alone three. The only explanation for this can be magic. Does a textbook actually need to be read to impart knowledge? Hannah smells a biology EE.
Part E: Hopefully This Is Short Enough To Keep You From Trying To Commit Me
Since the creation of teaching, textbooks have been known, loved, and extremely heavy, but never were they understood. In 1625, neither the witches nor the Elders even pretended understood the textbook: all they knew was that if you beat a witch with a heavy object they decided they loved God really fast. Today, students check out their textbook, haul around their textbook, love their textbook, have vaguely erotic experiences with their textbook, but never truly understand the textbook. It is time we free ourselves from this tyranny! Two history textbooks and half a hard drive of supplemental material? A biology textbook heavy enough to affect the gravitational field of the sun? No one needs this! The textbook as it exists today is a cruel game, and we are the butt of a joke no one remembers. Except me. Because it's four am right now, there's an empty bag of Doritos in front of me I didn't know was in our house, and I think I am in the Matrix.