I try to explain the simple idea of research.
First, you choose a topic.
Think of something you’re interested in, maybe a problem both-
ering you and people in general. You could write about capitalism,
religion, abortion, children, politics, education. Some of you come
from Haiti or Cuba. Two rich subjects. You could write about
voodoo or the Bay of Pigs. You could look at some aspect of your
country, human rights, for instance, do a little research, look at the
pros and cons, think about it, come to a conclusion.
Excuse me, professor, what’s pros and cons?
Pro is for, con is against.
The Oh means they have no notion of what I am talking about.
I have to backtrack, come at it from another angle. I ask them where
they stand on capital punishment. The looks tell me they don’t know
where they stand because they don’t know what I’m talking about.
Capital punishment is the execution of people by hanging, elec-
trocution, gassing, shooting or garroting.
A kind of strangling they have mostly in Spain.
They ask me to write it on the board. They scribble it in their
notebooks and I make a mental note that if ever a class dragged I’d
turn immediately to the various methods of execution.
Vivian from Haiti raises her hand. That’s wrong, that executing,
but I think it’s OK for the other thing, the one about the babies, Oh,
yeah, the abortion. They should be shot.
All right, Vivian. Why don’t you write that in your research paper?
Me? Write down what I’m saying? Who cares what I’m saying?
I’m nobody, professor. Nobody.
Their faces are blank. They don’t understand. How could they?
What’s this about the other side of a story? Nobody ever told them
they had a right to an opinion.
They’re not shy about speaking up in class, but putting words on