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Ann Scarborough

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There are No Different Drummers
By Ann Scarborough
Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Rated "G" by the Author.

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Attention! This essay is not aimed at all our teacher. We have some great ones!

A poem written by an ananonymous high school student.

He always wanted to explain things, but no one cared. So he drew. Sometimes he would draw and it wasnít anything. He wanted to carve it in stone or write in the sky. He would lie out in the grass and look up in the sky. And it would be only him and the sky and the things inside him that needed saying. And it was after that he drew the picture. It was a beautiful picture. He kept it under his pillow and would let no one see it. And he would look at it every night and think about it. And when it was dark and his eyes were closed he could still see it. And it was all of him. And he loved it. When he started school he brought it with him. Not to show to anyone, but just to have it with him like a friend. It was funny about school. He sat in a square brown desk. Like all the other square brown desks. And he thought it should be red. And his room was a square brown room like all the other rooms. It was tight and close. And still. He hated to hold the pencil and the chalk With his arm stiff and his feet flat on the floor Stiff With the teacher watching and watching The teacher came and spoke to him She told him to wear a tie like all the other boys He said he didnít like them And she said it didnít matter After that they drew And he drew all yellow and it was the way he felt about morning And it was beautiful The teacher came and smiled at him ďWhat is thisĒ, she said, ďWhy donít you draw something like Kenís drawing Isnít it beautiful?Ē After that his mother bought him a tie. And he always drew airplanes and rocket ships like every one else. And he threw the old picture away. And then he lay alone looking at the sky. It was big and blue and full of everything. But he wasnít anymore He was square inside .And brown. And he was stiff. Like everyone else.   


There Are No Different Drummers

Modern society seems to frown on those who are different, those individuals to whom life is not the same as it is for the multitude of others. Teachers in all stages of education seem to regard the individual as a threat to the success of their teaching ability. The high school student who wrote the poem certainly felt this was a true statement. The persona of the poem is that of a small child, one who sees and feels the world in brilliant colors


The child begins life with imagination, and excitement. He has things that need to be explained but no one cared enough to listen. Most adults pay little attention to what small children have to say. In the rush of day to day life, taking the time to listen seems to have been lost some where long the way. No matter the intricacies of the day, we should always take time to listen and share the cares of the day with our children and spouses. This line of the poem is a cry for listening and hearing. A cry for caring.


Lying in the grass under the sun and looking up at the sky alone. It was after this that he drew the picture. Perhaps the picture is full of things only he can see and understand. The things in the picture are a part of him and reflect his understanding of the feelings about him that day. It is private to him because it was all of him. The feelings and the emotions the picture represents are important to the child. The picture is how he feels about himself, it was a beautiful picture; he was beautiful.


Then the child goes to school. He sits in a square, brown desk, just like all the other square brown desks. The desks are drab and colorless to the child just as the room is drab and colorless. Conformity permeates every thing about the school. He feels confined and closed in, almost a sense of claustrophobia. The drab colors are advancing on him, causing everything surrounding him to stiff and frozen in the colorlessness of that conformity. The chalk, the pencil, the arm stiff to hold them correctly with feet flat against the floor.  These are all things the child hates. Each one of them, the chalk, the pencil, the arm stiff to hold them correctly, his feet flat against the floor, feels awkward and unrelenting in its demand for conformity.


The tide of this conformity is quickly advancing and taking him over in the wild march across the new students of the school. He is comfortable in his clothing, but he is made to wear a tie just like all the other boys. Never mind that the tie is choking him; it is the uniform. A feeling of comfort is not important when tossed in the ring with conformity. Conformity demands uniformity, a sameness in everything that is relevant to the school. Wants, likes, dislikes are all thrown to the side like so much discarded rubbish in the race to conform to the rules.


The class then turns to art. Here at last is something the child feels comfortable with. The childís sense of color takes over the classroom. He drew all yellow because that was the way he felt about morning. The yellow sun coming up over the horizon and lighting up the darkened landscape, all yellow. The teacher comes to look at what he has drawn. Why donít you draw something like Kenís drawing? Isnít it beautiful? The teacher doesnít understand the childís need for creativity and individuality.


His mother buys him a tie and he begins to conform to the teacherís ideals. The child no longer has the things inside him that need to be explained, he is completely alone. Inside him, he feels the drabness the teacher and the school have taught him. He is no longer a part of the color of the world. Our society has turned him into a drone, one that is the same as all the rest. Conformity is the death of ingenuity and creativity. Creativity seems to threaten the rules that have been made to govern the masses. Individuality is something to be feared and not to be nurtured. If the answers to not conform to the teacherís idea of answers then the answers are wrong, they cannot be right. And the drummer dies , a drab and colorless death, alone.


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Reviewed by Joseph Langen 9/27/2007
I was one of those boys who had a different drummer. It got me in trouble in grammar school and was responsible for my almost losing a couple jobs. I don't think the drummer dies but lies dormant while we deal with the constraints of school and work expectations. At some point, if we have the courage, we resurrect the drummer and listen to the beat. The challenge is to make sense of the beat for ourselves and then as a writer, find a way to put it into words, so it begins to make sense to readers or at least challenge what they "know" to be the truth.
Reviewed by LadyJtalks LadyJzTalkZone 9/5/2007
good write. Lady J
Reviewed by D Johnson 9/5/2007
Well written Ann, and so very true.

Reviewed by Walt Hardester 9/5/2007
conform or be thought a fool, or worse.
Who is to say that the schizophrenic does not know what reality really is? Only psychiatrists and psychologists who, once were children themselves, but the higher and more prestigious the degree, the narrower they become. They too have been conformed to the little brown boxes.

Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado 9/5/2007
Sad write, but very well done!
Reviewed by Felix Perry 9/5/2007
VEry sad but provocative write that makes one truly consider the line between conformity and creativity. I believe I was once that little boy and conformed for 40 years but creativity will always win in the end or die trying.
Great Write Ann,

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