At kindergarten, we make milk into butter. We locate our homes on a map with coloured pins. We dress up for Hallowe’en and parade through the school in our costumes. We sit cross-legged on the floor and sing songs while our teacher plays the piano. On rainy days, we make a big boat out of blocks.
And one day, we are given mimeographed sheets of paper with an outline of the letter ‘A’, surrounded by illustrations of an apple, an airplane and other ‘A’ words. The mimeographed sheet is a vague purplish blue, and smells wonderful. We take out our jumbo crayons and begin to colour it.
Up to that point, we are all equal in the eyes of the school. Though differing wildly in our background, ability and potential, we find ourselves kneeling at the same starting line. There are no slow learners, no gifted classes. No one has failed, and no one has been singled out for honour. We receive our ‘A’ hand-outs, hold them up to our noses, sniff their narcotic chemical air and begin to colour. And we are never equal again.