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ENGLISH CLASS  SOPHOMORE YEAR

ENGLISH CLASS SOPHOMORE YEAR

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IN MY SOPHOMORE ENGLISH CLASS, I took social witticism as my special study. But first I needed to learn how to be witty or funny, I needed to learn how language worked. That year we read Animal Farm by George Orwell, which is still my favorite book. Mrs. Kort, my teacher was aging and forgetful. We would jest that she was getting dementia.

After all, she lost her room keys at the end of every class, looking totally baffled and distressed. I used her apparent memory loss to my advantage. When her back was turned or she was too focused on one thing to pay attention to my behavior, I used selectively misbehaved and diverted the class’s attention to my own affairs and for my own purposes.

So, I took what I knew about language and people and, after reading Orwell’s great allegory I began to understand social graces and human behavior. While Orwell’s story was simple, as human behavior seems to be on the surface, it is nuanced, complex, and layered.

This is the lesson I was finally beginning to put together. How do people behave, why do they behave the way they do, and where do I see myself as a student and perhaps, one day, the larger society. When Boxer, the great workhorse of Animal Farm, was sold to the glue factory after injuring himself, I took this passage very seriously.

I vowed never to be a victim of my own shortsightedness or anyone’s else’s ill will. Instead, I pulled a one eighty and slowly became the bully I vowed would never do me harm.

Peters, J.. Wales Middle School: The Rise of J.Peters (p. 20). AuthorHouse. Kindle Edition.

About the Author

J. Peters

Bold 10 Under 10 award recipient Jacques Peters ’08, MSW ’12 . Through his work as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), therapist and disability rights advocate, Mr. Peters fights for those without a voice in various systems of care, such as the New York City Department of Social Services, the New York State Office of Mental Health or the city’s Department of Corrections. Jacques is the author of University on Watch: Crisis in the Academy, which he published under the pen name J. Peters in 2019, and First Diagnosis, published in 2020. Jacques refers to his stance on recovery in his journal articles as “Too big to fail.” No obstacle too big, no feat out of reach, Jacques let nothing stop him in his path to recovery and healing.
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