Friday, January 19

undeserving brats

I accompanied my mother to the school yesterday. The school which needs me for its little webdesign class. The strung-out description of said class was posted up on the whiteboard in the office with a chart beneath it, and three scribbled names were listed as willing students. There is a minimum of five. There are ten days before the start of the new semester.

Without falling into more description than is necessary, let me say this small educational center, housed as it is in a handful of portable buildings off to the side of the main junior high, is a quaint in that full-of-fingerpainted-butcher-paper way, but also full of an almost invisible sort of dingy hopelessness. I know 'hopelessness' sounds overly poetic, more concerned with drama than the real business of what a school is. I can't help it.

What strikes me so directly, so disturbingly, is the subtle sort of struggle I see between what these students ought to have and what they don't even know they lack. I might be imagining it, it's so subtle. Education is important. Learning is the greatest path anyone can follow (perhaps the only true path to anywhere). Teaching is an overly sentimentalized profession. (most things involving children are, i suppose.) The children are the future, etcetera.

They are indeed. And yet there is such sense of abandonment in this little collection of classrooms. The dirt and grime of twenty years is settled on the eight computers of the lab where I will teach. The shelves in the library are few.

And yet they learn just the same. They are bright students. They'll be fine. Indeed, if they had brand new computers, all the newest and best software they could imagine, and miles of book-crammed shelves, they'd learn just the same. If they had all that, it would make almost no difference at all. Ignorance is such bliss: such grand scope for improvement.

Perhaps it only bothers me because I am expected to teach webdesign using a who-knows-how-old liscence of Microsoft FrontPage, as outdated a piece of software you'd fine anyplace on earth. Discontinued last year. Abounding in hideously substandard mark-up. Painfully obsolete. With this I am expected to prepare these children for the future? With this I am to open their minds to the wonders of HTML?

I wish there was something I could do.

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