Category Archives: Education

Journey through the Heart of Darkness: Post 5

As the weeks passed, the numbness of habit began to overtake me…sunrise over the dark city, the hum of the my tires down the highway, the blanket of filthy air exhaled by the smokestacks…the potholes jostling me into occasional alertness…I began, once again, my drivetime audiobook adventures, which even further removed me from the apocalyptic surroundings I daily inhabited.

Gary, IN is the perfect example of the whiteman’s wasteland, a used up, drugged up prostitute whose destiny is manifest. The place is 99.9% malignant. And I say that in the most matter-of-fact manner possible, the way a doctor presents the final prognosis to a dying man.

The inner city charter school is like a giant leach, siphoning off a portion of the bad, infected blood so that the healthy parts of its host will stand a fighting chance. The problem is that there is just so damn much bad blood, and so little healthy parts remaining. And there are multiple infections being fought at once…rap culture, gang culture, poverty, ignorance, futility, hopelessness, little food, no food, no healthy food. Fruits and vegetables, our best foods and our best metaphors, are exotic luxuries in such a wasted city, where approximately 4 promising students per class might make it out. This means that only about 20/130 students will be able to shake themselves free of the prostitute’s clutches and benefit from the leach therapy. These 4 promising students would be considered average at a middle class white school. It was for these few students, these lights in the darkness, that I worked daily. Slowly, I and they began to ripen on the vine, even in these formidable circumstances.

Since the charter school where I worked gave 50% credit for doing absolutely nothing (so they could spin the numbers, thus keeping up enrollment and federal tax dollars), I set up a system where I gave 150% to students who wanted to go over and above. The administration did not like this approach because it messed with their delicate web of numeric lies. The administration did not like many, many of my observations and practices. Ultimately we both will decide to “move in different directions”. The school is receiving a glut of applications from teachers left high and dry by their own charter school, a spider which had failed in its attempt to spin the proper numerical lies for the state. Ultimately, the charter school where I have spent 9 months will see the same fate, and the cycle will repeat itself. The charter school needs people who need it, in terms of both students and teachers. The fact that this position was optional to me allowed me to implement and voice critical thinking skills, which posed a very real threat to the current establishment there.

For 9 months I stared at the open wounds left by the receding flood of capitalism. For 9 months, I was in the belly of the beast. This wasteland is the logical conclusion of economic materialism, which is the logical conclusion of philosophical materialism, which is the logical conclusion of one path taken in this garden of forking paths…separation from our ultimate source. Thus say the gospel of technological determinism.

I have not yet said much about those lights in the darkness, my students. I have only been setting the stage. My next several posts will be dedicated to them, those healthy individuals who may be able to free themselves of the whore’s clutches, who may be able to reach heaven because they know what it is like to live in hell.

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Journey Into the Heart of Darkness: Post 4

At the end of the first day, I wanted to run far far away and never come back…to say that this place was chaotic would be the understatment of the year…Since the students thought I was a sub, they treated me accordingly. I had to yell to be heard (something that does not come natural to me). Since I knew none of the rules and no student names, the kids took full advantage. Kids snacked on their favorite snacks, threw their trash on the floor, and just bullshitted with their friends. By the end of the day, the floor looked like the littered floor of a sports arena after the big game.

Just after my lunch hour, I was really initiated when a fight that broke out in the hallway found its way into my room. It was between two females, one of which was pregnant and somewhat neanderthal, the other more attractive,  but equally combative. I was able to intervene in the wild mess of tangled hands and hair, holding the two young ladies apart with my arms fully extended. Amazingly the hands of the two girls still remained locked into one another’s hair, as if each was a puppet to the other…when I did finally get backup, the two girls were yanked forcefully apart, leaving bits and pieces of one girl’s weave scattered across the ground. I watched astonished as the tumbleweave moved, seemingly of its own accord, across the tile floor…

The rest of the day settled into a chaotic hum…I was now oficially an adventurer in what seemed to be a giant babysitting conglomerate…I wondered to myself on the quiet drive home if learning could ever occur in such a place…I was still getting paid from my public school position. It was not too late… But, no, I already knew what lay down that road…This was such a low point in my new career that I figured there was nowhere to go but up…I would make my final decision on the second day..

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