Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Still on Freedom

Most schools open today, a supposed National Holiday. But since our Independence day was moved a day earlier to prevent it from being sandwiched in between two working days, we're all expected to be the slaves of whatever institution or company we "serve" even on this special day.

I deem it timely to post an essay which I wrote as commissioned by my Playwriting class instructor back in college, probably for him to know something about us.

And, on my last semester in college, this I allowed him to know...

Prison? School? What’s The Difference?

I have never been to prison but I have been to school.

If you think that my statement is purely non sequitur, I suggest that you think again. Prison and school have more things in common than most people believe. I myself am not sure if it is because of our so-called original sin why we are sentenced to attend school or if it is because we are born savages that is why we are required to enter an institution that will tame us. Whatever it is, the unwritten law—the one strongly imposed by society—which says, all of us should attend school, thinks of us as criminals who badly need rehabilitation. And, we are left with no other choice but to disregard such accusation and go to school.

Prison and school do not rhyme but, sometimes, they sound the same to me. They have numerous similarities which I am going to try to point out the best way that I can. The same as in prison, there is a time frame set for one’s stay in school. The length of time one is required to serve may vary depending on one’s performance. Being good will mean a shorter time of freedom deprivation. A behavior that defies “being good” will result to a longer sentence. If you are still confused and still cannot grasp my point, consider this analogy: Acceleration is to school as parole is to prison. Now, if you behave poorly, you are bound to get a demerit. In school, you will fail and repeat your class, while in prison that means another unwanted year or two added to your stay in the penitentiary.

The steward of the savage individuals in school and of the detained lawbreakers is another thing. They are more popularly known as teachers and wardens, respectively. Students and prisoners are compelled to please their temporary guardians. If they like you, it will be easier for you to get out. If they do not like you, you will be together longer and the relationship will simply be hellish.

Being the social individuals that we are, we can view school or prison as a venue to build friendships or enmity among classmates or inmates. A harmonious and pleasant bond with the people around you makes life fun, enlightening and stress-free. On the other hand, a hostile relationship with others characterized by rivalry, defamation, and occasional cat fights will make life more exciting and entertaining. These two “theories” which I have just bravely come up with holds true in school and prison—I think.

Both school and prison are not there just to tame you. They are there to impart ideologies which you never thought you would adhere to. When you enter both, you are turned into mere robots which passively accept programs set by the “bosses.” In the end, you either consciously or unconsciously imbibe the principles the institution you enter into advocates.

Probably one of the best things school and prison have in common is the people’s opinion and feelings towards them. Students most of the time hate school while prisoners have a logical aversion to prison cells. The bottom line is: they both want to get out as soon as possible.


I have never been to prison but I have been to school. I had been good and I had been bad that is why my stay turned out longer than it was supposed to be. I had teachers whom I pleased which made my stay pleasant. I had teachers who did not particularly like me and they made life suck worse that it usually does. In a “restricted” environment, I found friends who made me forget that I am under some kind of a rehabilitation program (I think the term reformatting is more applicable). I never made enemies but there were some people who were not so nice which allowed me to balance my sunny disposition with my “unsunny” disposition. Being in school for 17 years permitted me to acquire knowledge which I would not have gotten somewhere else. It goes without saying that I had allowed myself to become a passive robot at several points in my life. But that is besides the point.

Why is school like prison?

Because I had tried running away from it but it came after me. That explains why I am still here. However, I would like to believe that I have already served my time.

After being good for the past years, I am preparing myself to scream: “Laya na ako!

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