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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Zen and the art of school dioramas

Image result for diorama school project polar bear

In the middle of an “Ask Polly” column on dating, Heather Havrilesky unleashed her hatred of “the never-ending scourage of dioramas . . . that drain your time “and your will to live, and for what? So your kid learns that clay figures fall to pieces once they’re fully dry?”

Her husband, a professor of education who “fixates on the stupidity of these things,” refuses to help their daughter build dioramas.

That leaves me to coach my kid. And honestly, sometimes I just want to tell her, “Look, the whole world is stupid and selfish and lazy and nukes are about to rain down on us, so why even make another goddamn polar bear? Maybe it’s time to start experimenting with getting less than an A. You know I won’t mind. See how it feels! Try it on for size.” But I do have some restraint. So instead, I tell her, “Dioramas, like all arbitrary, tedious, pointless educational exercises, require a higher level of Zen. You must expect pain and ruin, toil and suffering, and you must let go. Surrender to the excruciating nothingness of the task at hand, and try to enjoy it, knowing it was designed to crush your will and render you enraged and jaded and all alone in your pain.”
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