If you asked me how to locate the oppression,
I would say to look underneath the fluorescents.
Between rows of rectangular tables, all right angles and rigid
thought: this is how you square something, mathematically,
You find the corners four times over,
and see how many times a teacher’s voice will echo,
and count how many times we try to cash in
on this thing we call knowledge.
So better yet, exchange mathematician for architect.
Face chairs inward to join intellects.
Push tables back
and tear walls apart
and see how opened up we can become when we are closed down—
enclosed around, I mean, and this is the extreme radicalness
of moving furniture.
Of taming the light we pull ourselves into.
Of finding the light we pull into ourselves.
I was inspired to write this poem following a discussion in a class I’m taking, Teaching Restorative Justice. In this class, we talked about how RJ practitioners must often first move the furniture of a room to create a more RJ-like atmosphere—more welcoming, open, and balanced for collaboration. This idea of moving furniture fits into the broader idea of restorative architecture and the ways in which RJ can embody both mental and physical shifts from the traditional norm. Specifically, this poem reflects how moving furniture and changing the landscape of a classroom can directly impact the teacher to student relationship, and how education is not found through information deposited but through learning deliberated.