A review of Jerome Stueart’s One Nation Under Gods in Tesseracts 14: Strange Canadian Stories.
By Derek Newman-Stille
Jerome Stueart, an American expat and current Canadian, explores the American myth in his One Nation Under Gods. Stueart creates a United States in which American concepts of patriotism are physically manifest in American gods. Gods like Lady Liberty, Strike, and Patriot demand a heavy toll for occupancy in the United States. They demand students to memorise American history, to tell and re-tell the stories of the American gods to keep them real and powerful. When students fail to remember American history, they are made ‘useful’ by being turned into buildings and structures of society, indicating the consumption of the uneducated by a corporate structure that turns them into the tools of society. They literally become stores, missiles, and other implements of American corporate society.
As a former American, Stueart offers a critique of his former home, questioning the social underpinnings of American society and questioning the absolute adherence to an American myth about a society that is immensely important and needs to be remembered above all others.
He questions education systems in general and the subjectivity of teaching: why are certain things taught and not others? Who determines what is important for children to learn and what will make them the decision-makers of the society of tomorrow. As an educator myself, I appreciate Stueart’s critique of education and the idea of teacher-directed rather than student-directed learning. His world is one in which the definition of certain types of knowledge as valuable and others as irrelevant (ignoring the incredible gifts of the children who are de-valued such as the ability to create incredible art) has meant that society has lost other important forms of knowledge.
This is a tale of student resistance to an enforced pedagogy, a challenging of the memorization and rote-learning system of education and the introduction of the important part of education: the need to question everything. Stueart reminds the reader that the most important part of education is that edge of speculation that fuels young minds with the question: why?
To explore this and other volumes of the Tesseracts books, visit the Edge website at http://www.edgewebsite.com/ . You can visit Jerome Stueart’s website at http://jeromestueart.com/ to see some of his work and find out what he is currently working on.