Guest post by Warren “Ren” Hynson
All last week I read the handout “The School,” and I was confused. I felt the story was all over the place and I was lost. As I walked around the prison compound, everyone I saw from our class asked, “Did you read ‘The School’?” They all followed that question with different but similar opinions. One person said that they thought Jess had us read “The School”and then answer the questions to psychoanalyze us. A few others shared these thoughts. I thought, because of the waiter and vessel clip-art, that the story was teaching us how not to write a story. I left the conversation even more confused.
The day of the class, prior to Mikita and Jess walking in, I was still lost. Everyone was talking about different things going on in and outside of prison. I asked the men, “What do you all think of the story?” It started a brief conversation that didn’t really shed any light on my struggles to understand it all.
Moments later, Mikita and Jess walked in. I was happy to see that it was the Jess that was part of another class I took with Mikita a couple of years ago. Jess did an amazing job facilitating a discussion and asking the right questions that finally started to enlighten me and others in the room. She helped us find the answers in the same place that our questions lay, and that was within ourselves. It felt good to understand what I’ve always known to be true and that is that authors may intend to tell a few stories in one. Maybe one is literal, and another is written between the lines for only others to see.
Facilitate means “to make easy,” and what Jess did was make it easy for us in the room to look at “The School” from a different perspective. Her discussion-based way of facilitating the class is a great way for students to learn, and I think she will continue to do an amazing job as she teaches more classes.
I felt bad that I didn’t do the reading “The Black House” because I wasn’t able to participate in the discussion. I love to talk in class, and for that part I was silent. I was playing close attention to the dialogue in the room about “The Black House,” and the discussion got really good, especially the part when people shared stories passed down from generation to generation about certain places they went growing up. All the rituals people participate in may not really mean anything in the grand scheme of things, but to the people going through the experience, it means everything.
All in all, I liked how that class went. It was a great experience, and I liked how Jess was professional and about her business. Keep up the good work Mikita, and keep bringing these amazing individuals in.