Sunday, February 7, 2010

Reading the World

Good writing gets celebrated a lot, and it should. Good writing can take readers to places they never could have reached alone.

Good reading, on the other hand [I had to insert that gratuitous phrase, because you might have thought I was still talking about writing] is almost never celebrated, any more than being part of an audience is ever anything all that special. We all know it's important, but it's nothing to celebrate.

I guess in the ethereal reaches of wine tasting, maybe, there's room to celebrate the truly discerning palatte, and maybe even the tasters, in this one case, get to tell the makers what of their production is really really good. So very unlike the work of critics in the world of literature or art. Which is often at so much odds with the reading public, who are the ones who really get to decide, right?

The critics need to be out front, and not just at some peak, like wine snobs can be. There is still a presumption of ever changingness toward progress, ahem, which would define an avante garde. Wine, on quite another hand, is presumed to reflect something permanent, something which would be great for any time, or at worst subject to the winds of fashion, with an undergirding of just plain quality.

One goes to art school to learn to paint, to writing school to learn to write, because one must learn the context; to be taken seriously, you must know what came before so you can find you spot along the trajectory toward what it might yet become. There is no great imitative art, they say, and none that doesn't imitate either. How tiresome when some hypertalented naif just makes the whole game, well, unnecessary. When the art just shows up on the street, before the gallery snobs ever even had a chance to notice, much less call it.

Reading, as an act, gets problematized so unnecessarily by schooling, though. Refined audiences for refined productions, sure, but I'm talking here simply about the act of using the written word.

I know that it gets needlessly problematized in as many ways since Sunday as there can be to know, but I'll tell you about a few of the ways that I do know this, and try really hard not to bore you with my real-life wine-tasting story.

Kids (and adults) can and do and will learn to read effortlessly and even joyfully if there's some simple connection between their reading and real life. And it almost goes without saying that they will have no problem writing either, so long as they're not trying for the refined sort. Mass literacy was the result of the printing press, plain and simple, and had almost absolutely nothing to do with school. School is there to keep the ignorant ignorant, duh. We'd have something dangerous like socialism without churches otherwise. Please! Heaven forfend!

It is the job and the purpose of schooling to problematize these things, pretty much in the same way that it is the job of wine tasters to elevate the really good stuff from the dross that you and I might be happy enough to drink if we didn't know any better. And we're glad when they do it, because it keeps the pricing somewhat honest too - as honest as it can be in a universe of naked emperors and so very many labels which can't possibly be remembered store to store and visit to visit.

Very helpfully now, the wine stores have started to score the labels, pretty much the way they do at Olympic competitions, or at Harvard, where it's just presumed that everyone's an A, and the real nuanced distinctions come in the smaller endzone decimal points. In a way that ordinary people can't even remotely make sense of. And also in a way that you can't really quite trust the judges about. Can you even imagine someone buying a bottle of wine for more than $10 which had a score below 80, which is still enough in school to make you president!? So, there's at least that much honesty in the scoring of wines.

Kids at school learn pretty early on that there must be something really tricky about reading, especially about reading aloud, and that they really shouldn't even bother to try to write. Special rules proliferate to guide the new learner toward understanding language in the way it gets used in the socially well capitalized households, which are usually pretty well aligned with the financially well capitalized households. And "aligned with" here isn't precisely the same as correleated with. Because you can be not-so-rich and pretty well aligned.

But let's say that language skills are between the youngster and something real. Then they learn pretty quickly, and pretty much in the manner of txting, even make up their own nongrammatical ways to get what they need across. To make the tools of reading and writing work for them.

School stands in the way of that just as much as it could ever facilitate it, just simply by disempowering the ones who don't score so highly, even though if you don't score the kids at all they know precisely where they stand vis-a-vis one another, and with regard to the teachers.

And even though the scoring just encourages gaming of the system, such that, especially with rules for objectivity, the kids know how to get high enough scores if they want to which still won't make any difference at all for getting into the really good next level school for instance, where all sorts of new tests meant to be non-proxies for social capitalization will purport to peer right into your very essence and tell how well you really know how to read and write.

And of course these tests are almost perfect proxies for social capitalization, once you control for intelligence, which was the chimerical object in the first place, or was it just belief that you had to start with? But kids know who's smart and who's not, so you could just start with asking them. A kind of peer review instead of instrumental peering, which is the only reliable test for truth in the first place, the peer review, but let's hold off on that a minute.

Believing that they are something other from what you can know from the outside - using IQ metrics, say - is a pretty good way to do something evil, and rank order the humanity of human beings. Which should never be done in the first place, or the last place either come to think of it. You could just control for social capitalization in the first place, going in, but then you'd be pretty much undermining the belief in the first place that you could measure intellectual energy without at the same time measuring want and need and drive and motivation, and the rest of it. Humans are so full of pre-judging! They can't be trusted . . . .

But there are groups of students who demonstrably do have a hard time learning to read and write. We used to call these kids dyslexic, but since that term sounds too much like a medical diagnosis for a condition which just has way too many factors - not all of them very well aligned either - underneath it, it's fallen out of favor in favor of the more generic term of "learning disabilities." If I were speaking, I'd use both hands, two fingers each, to demonstrate my contempt for the term by bracketing it in gesticulated quotation marks.

They (whoever they are) should really do the same thing with IQ that they did with dyslexia, because there are just simply too many underlying factors to call it - that single score - a read of anything at all like intelligence. At worst it's a proxy for all that social capitalization again, while at best it's a way to correct the improper scoring of teachers and other authority figures, which, if you just asked the kids directly, they could have done for you instantly and saved a lot of time and money and bother in the process. They know who's smart and who's not. Their lives depend on it most of the time.

But it's not always the ones the teacher thinks are smart, you know, and so it's not necessarily a bad idea to have these tests. And with the learning disabilities too, which at best are just an indication of some disparity among subtests against the overall score (which I'm pretty sure is a good working definition for what gets meant by "learning disability" in the first place) but at worst might be just another proxy for someone not doing as well as his social capitalization indicates he should be doing (it's usually he in these cases). And so if you're rich, or if you attend a well-capitalized school district, you can get some special schooling designed to remediate these difficulties. Smooth out the unevenness of the subtests. Wear down the jagged edginess.

I worked at one such private school for the very rich, or the well-funded by the Canadian government where they are more enlightened about these things, who had demonstrable problems with reading, at some odds with the evident intelligence of these kids. You could watch them struggling to make out even simple words, and the school, quite sensibly, and having built its longish tradition on the method, would drill these kids on phonics. Endlessly.

Every single faculty member, myself included, and I was supposed to be rather more exalted than that, but I did and had to endorse my own comeuppance, had to master this method of drilling and not question it all all, pretty much the way that you would never question your sergeant if you were stupid enough to sign your life away to the military, and then once there didn't want to be among the very first to die. Which was rough for me, because it was evident to me that there were huge disparities among the kids according to which of them really couldn't sound the words out, and which had no trouble at all with that, but couldn't sequence them, or couldn't organize them, the words.

And so we would be, some of the time, drilling-in a kind of cynicism; both in the kids and in the teachers, based ultimately on the difficulty really expensive private schools have, unless they have a waiting list, in saying no to parents with the cash and the desperate hope in their eyes.

But still it's interesting that this primitive kind of phonic drilling now, more recently than could have done any good for me, has been shown to encourage the flourishing and elaboration of the newly-recognized-as-critical white matter of the brain. It's as if these kids with the smarts without the reading ability were fully equipped with powerful CPUs, but lacked the networking to make them work togther [which is a really really lousy metaphor which I would hate it for you to latch onto, which I'll hope to demonstrate the why about later on]. And the phonic drilling elaborates and exercises the interconnections until, like training wheels on bicycles, the kids learn how to read on their own (some people would object that training wheels just enable dependence, and you should throw them in the pool, to mix a few more metaphors into the cocktail).

It really does work, I've seen it with my own eyes, and then you should see these kids - the ones who haven't been made cynical - take right off on the power of self-esteem and do things in other subjects they never thought they could do. And then they go off to college and the rest is history.

But of course, as a teacher of Chinese myself, where phonics has precisely no utility for the teaching of reading, it still was hard for me to credit this theorizing overly much, since first of all I knew that readers in English do rather more the same thing as readers in China do, than they do something elaborately different.

Readers in English, after a while, just see the words at a glance, and only "sound them out" if they're unfamiliar, and even that will only help if they're familiar with the word already, in its spoken form, or maybe if they recognize some roots, which we also drilled into those kids. But half the time the unfamiliar words are words that rarely do get spoken, and if you do dare to speak them you're pretty likely to embarrass yourself with the way that they come out, compared to educated listeners who might be listening.

Can you see where I'm going with this? I'd be really surprised if you could. I'd be shocked and awed and amazed, to tell you the truth, because I don't think I'm going where you're likely to think I'm going, about which I refer you back to my title.

In China absolutely everyone has to drill to learn to read, see, and it's not anything at all to do with phonics. If we didn't pretend in English - the least phonetic of the alphabetic languages, I'm pretty sure - that there was some arcane encoding whose mastery would provide the key to reading. If we were simply to drill the whole words as shapes, in other words, to everyone, then there wouldn't be any more dyslexia proper over here than there can be in China.

Of course, some would catch on more quickly than others, and all of them would be inventing little private rules to remember how to distinguish this shape from that, and learning roots - root shapes which show up in lots of words -  would help, just as in Chinese, and learning the phonetic history of subcomponents of the overall written word would also provide clues to which word is which, according to familiar sounds from the spoken language, just like in Chinese. And some students would get it more quickly than others, but all of them would likely learn to read, especially if learning to manipulate these symbols could make an actual difference in actual life.

Which might be almost but not completely enough to convince you that all the elaboration of schooling can possibly do is to disempower the learner from making the important discoveries on his own in a way to make them memorable and perhaps permanently useful, which might also be enough, but likely not, to convince you that analytic approaches to understanding, in school, can only get in the way of real usages out in life, where, if you're me anyhow, it's really hard to reverse predict, according to how well they do, how well people did in school.

Yeah, sure, like with Bill Gates or Steve Jobs or Einstein, it's easy to imagine that they could have done well if they'd had to, somehow, stick it out like the rest of us, or maybe if the schools were more enlightened about not alienating the geniuses, while still pretty much figuring that that whole equation doesn't count for the rest of us, except why not? Why doesn't it count for the rest of us?

The people I've worked with side by side can't be distinguished on the basis of their performance on the job according to how they might have done in school. In fact it's often the school-smart ones - and this can be evident not least because of the psychological chips they carry, which come off pretty much like a burden in the way of good performance - it's often the school-smart ones who sometimes get nearly nothing done at all in the way of "real world" production (I'm not being quite so hard on the term this time with my gesticulated quotes, although I probably should be).

So here's the other thing. The school I headed, which was a school for "gifted kids" (full on cynicism in the case of the finger gestures here, you might almost watch me flipping the bird toward and with and by those quotes) was probably the only properly vocational school on the planet; a planet where, I hardly need to elaborate, all schooling should and must and still could be if we were to give it half a chance, vocational. Which is simply another way to say that school should be more a part of life, and not so apart from life, if you catch my drift.

Because this school for the gifted was training kids who belonged in, and for the most part ended up in, the academy itself, which is bizarrely how we've let the rest of our schools get distorted almost beyond recognition, as if everyone should be going off to college in the first place. Or in the last place, come to think about it.

While we've meanwhile outsourced all non-academic jobs with dignity right out from under the kids and then expect them to want to go to school as if it could make a damned bit of difference for their non-intellectual work in some demeaning service-sector role, when what they're good at, manifestly, is working with their hands and making those connections between what is real and what is, until realized, something like "in the head" (another really bad metaphor I'm hoping to disabuse you of before eternity escapes us here).

I'm getting there, but I have a ways to go yet. Bear with me, if at all possible.

Now among the things that we pull out from under kids is that whatever they have been able to figure out for themselves is useless. That's the adult as authority, dessicated and sterile critic role of teachers in school. The wing-clipping, soul snuffing, grammarian bad-behavior chastising Miss Appropriate branch of schooling. Not to mention what they can do with their hands. Keep them where I can see them mutha fucka.

And, in school as in life, that action is justified because it's premised on a nice progressive pyramid of life and living, where middle school is higher than elementary (seems like by definition right there) and all the rest and then there are all sorts of gradations of quality. So, if kids are going to "get somewhere" pretty much on the model whereby art and science, unlike wine remember, have to keep moving from pre to post all the livelong time. Which is what graduation is all about, if you get the pun embedded there.

But there manifestly are some teachers who meet kids where they're at, and encourage them to build on what they already know for themselves in the first place, which is always at nearly the same level of elaboration, at each stage of development for each and every person who gets to be called a human no matter how elaborated you might want to make the distinctions between them. You know, in the range from 90, say, to 100.

There are only differences in nearness or distance from what gets sanctioned, and according to what needs to be unlearned, because it's naive, before the good stuff can fill it in. That's a powerful theory out there in the field of education, in case you didn't know, called something like, well, maybe "naive theory." No one's a blank slate, alas or hallelujah depending on your point of view.

Now sure some kids don't have a very elaborated world view, and some have crazy notions in their heads, just like some adults do, and I would mention Sarah Palin just for a good example, but we'll come back to her later, I promise, if not here then in some subsequent diatribe still to come.

Some just haven't been exposed to very much at all. Some might be limited, but I would say that if you can carry on a conversation at all, you get to count as having a world view of, almost by definition, approximately the same level of elaboration as the next guy's. No matter what the predictors might be of the next guys getting farther ahead than you will, and there's a whole range of predictors only a few of which are related to intellectual energy. Some of which are even related to such morally repugnant things as ability to believe a lie right to your very own face. The way politicians and lawyers and corporate shills seem so good at, but I don't want to digress in that particualar direction, and no I'm not saying Sarah Palin's a psychopath. Far from it.

But anyhow, let's say the schools were to do simpler things, like drilling, and posing interesting problems for the students to solve, together or in some groups, and didn't worry so very much at all about over-elaborating before the students literally asked for it. And let's say we made the workplace safe, as we should be able to do, and let the kids get real-world rewards and not just grades for what they were able to contribute to the world of work, even if it were only filing or sorting, or doing things with their hands or bodies which adults were maybe less good at.

And lets also say that the adults might be encouraged to get back to school, so to speak, whenever they want, for the elaboration which analysis in school might be able to provide, and that there weren't such incredibly lopsided rewards for the rare talents of showmanship, hoodwinking, gaming, tricking, and other psychopathologies so well rewarded in the marketplace right now. This might actually happen if kids were empowered to read critically and not just to assume that someone writing and talking at them knows more than they do, you know, if school were reintegrated with life just a little bit more.

OK, so now here comes the fun part. I studied Chinese poetry in college - no really! - classical Chinese poetry for which I received a score, as is mandatory now, somewhere above 90, just like the cheap wine I afford myself. So, I learned not just how to read, and about how to read, but I also learned a few things about what reading means in Chinese, where poetry was rather more central to what gets meant by not just intellectual energy, but also political energy and even philosophical energy, using poesis here in the same sense that virtual shares a root if not a route with virtuous. Frigging political appointments were made on the basis of poetical prowess, which is not exactly something we'd ever consider. Round these parts.

Which really meant you had to be able to demonstrate not just your ability to read and to write, but your mastery, largely by rote, of the entire canon of literature before you, which included history, philosophy and all the rectified - I'm being literal here - words which had come tumbling down across the years toward you. The ones which had survived, as it were, the test of not just time, but something more like what it is they score when they score the wine bottle.

And, in Chinese poetics, the ability to read is the ability to know, and therefore what a reader reads for, in a great writer, is that writer's ability, you know, actually to read the world, which is based on having read all the other great words which came before. The world is not apart from the word, would be another way to say it. That's why they're always, these Chinese, writing directly on the face of the earth, even to the point of damning (sic) the three gorges, which we would never do. We would just foul them with graffiti and big box stores.

Which doesn't mean something metaphorical the way that you and I might mean it. It means literally to learn to see, in a way without which it's all noise. Talk about problematizing the process of learning to read!!

They're almost saying almost no-one sub-elite really knows how to freaking even see, never mind how to decipher symbols. The symbols are the easy part in other words, and it's the making sense of reality that really counts, but not making sense the way we mean making sense, analytically, by tearing things down to their constituent senses, so that we can control them, manipulate them, bring them to submission, which come to think of it is what we want in our politicians too. Not to mention scientists, and well, even writers, intentional fallacy be damned. Authors are supposed to be authorities, whereas, and I'm pretty sure I still have this right, the authority in the case of China is the handed down tradition itself, vetted, almost peer-review style, by the arrived body of scholars who judge the supplicants' - during the course of grueling examinations - ability to read. Which gets demonstrated by ability to write.

Now here's the really fun part, where I'm going to lose you altogether, and you'll likely think that I'm just crazy, nuts, in loco non-mentis, but if you can learn to read, then the result is just like having actual authorial power over the world, the way you might if you're a hands-on engineer, descended from scientist descended from theorist, descended from God, which is a great chain of being so obvious that one shouldn't have to rehearse it so much all the time.

But, we're not so surprised, are we, when people who have deciphered the world can manipulate it also by what would seem magic were you not aware that there are actual principles according to which airplanes can fly, and coal can burn, and cars can go really really fast?

But we would be shocked and overwhelmed a bit if it were to turn out that the reality around us, once we learn to read, will actually afford us meaning as if it were conspiring, sort of, to make sense just for us, by virtue, poetic virtue if you will, or actual poesis, of what it is that we choose to attend to among all the noise.

Like, you know, it won't work at all for you to try to move a whole car with a two-by-four, nor to light a block of ice on fire. That would be just plain stupid. And it won't do, at all, to try to read numbers right off the face of things, and then add them up, which might make you a kind of numerologist charlatan, but isn't going to tell you a thing at all about how the world is ordered. And interpreting absolutely everything as though it were meant, by some sort of platonic-ideal-incarnate God, to mean something, just for you, perhaps in a world where nothing at all is just a plain co-incidence, well that would be just nuts.

It's you, the reader, rather, who creates the sense. I'll try to show you a few examples now, of how one might read the world, and you can decide if this is truth or fiction. If I'm making things up outright, or maybe just foregrounding some stuff and backgrounding other stuff, which might be different from the way you would do it, but that's just precisely the point now, isn't it?

OK, so at about this point, it starts getting too hard. Beyond me. Out of my reach, even though my reach exceeds my grasp by a long shot (or what's a meta for?). So I have to start telling stories, but they're, you know, true stories. You can actually read about them in the News if you want.

Like the time that the local wine and food society, which was hosted by my little school for gifted kids, decided to have a scotch taste, somewhat in my honor, since I was young and powerful (for my age) and probably affected a taste for scotch, which is embarrassing even to think about now, no to mention, literally, distasteful, like the way I used to smoke a pipe when I looked like kids who I see now out on the street who you'd just want to almost beat up if they were to affect something so affected. I lucked out. As Dad says, "I'm still alive." (I ain't touching those quotes)

But anyhow, these wine-tasters had palates far too well educated to risk destroying with something so rude as scotch, and so I took home practically a whole case of really really expensive single-malt, which would probably get me put in jail these days for graft or something.

That's not the funny part. The funny part was when the presenter, who for this group gets a speaker's podium, and is really nervous about saying something uninformed in front of this critical group. And I do mean critical, as in they will call one another horse's asses right to each other's face if one says "hint of chocolate" where there is no such thing.

This presenter explained how scotch must be mellowed, by law, for something like 12 years, and so when the world was all behaving like me, affecting a taste for scotch as a way in to power, on wall street or wherever, the big scotch labels had to gear up way ahead of time, and then suddenly (well not that suddenly) everyone started drinking wine as the way to show discernment, probably influenced by Orson Welles who turned out to be a loser anyhow, ironically enough.

So they had an oversupply of the ingredients - the single-malts - long thought to be too crude to drink alone, which were carefully blended to make the smooth stuff which bore the label and the high price. You can do this experiment at home if you're filthy rich or just lucky enough to have a charitable organization at your disposal for the rich to dispose of their disposable income on at the expense of the taxpayer, but we did it right there in school at that, supposed, wine tasting. Phew! We mixed the single-malts and proved to our ample satisfaction that no one of them, alone, was near so good as they were when brought together. Right there on deck we were concocting fool's gold which should have, but couldn't, sell for way way way more than each ingredient separately.

Which, apart from being a pretty good truing of the Emperor's New Clothes closet story, also makes a pretty good tale out of school about what's wrong in it. 

You might not see it yet, but then you probably mixed up the vehicle and the tenor when you watched Avatar too. You probably thought it was the cliched and hackneyed story which mattered, the Christ story, the Pocahontas story, the step into your coffin to come fully alive story. When it was only the "special" (FUCK YOU!) effects which you really had to read in the first place.

You probably missed that even though it was literally pounded into your head (I didn't say drilled, because only an idiot author would dis his audience, and I didn't want you to think I was talking dirty either). The point of that story was that it made the impossible real-seeming, so that you could go on participating in Empire, even though in your heart now, leaving the movie, you're practically dead set against it, Empire. Joke's on us.

You have to be able to read to be able to see stuff, and I'm afraid I mean that literally.

Then there was the fact, last night at a church auction, that I ran into the guy who took over that school for dyslexics, now retired, who looked like a private school head from central casting, which I never did, which is why I failed, or maybe, who knows? Maybe I did look like central casting sent me, which is why I was promoted to that top spot at which I was so freaking fraudulent that it would make anyone want or need to drink if he were put in that position.

Drink being - and this is a near perfect analogy which I very much would like you to hang on to - the flywheel which gets us from one percussive realization that we are not quite vacant at our centers to the next (I could have that one just inside out and backwards). Just precisely as there are no "real" (fuckme stiletto quotes again) particles in the physics we now believe in (so desperately, if you want to know the truth), so there is no there there at our center, and if we didn't have the drink with which we've, and again I'm being literal here, genetically co-evolved, we really wouldn't be able to make it over the pain of being outed as nothing but an object in the first place. It can be very functional, alcohol.

Which distinguishes it from drugs, for instance, which are meant to disappear the pain altogether, which is not the same as bridging the gap now is it, or pot which makes the intervals (although how would I know?) just expand to near infinity, in imitation of that thing we need to close our eyes and take a stiff drink to get over, like marriage, for instance; that thing which diminishes infinitely or infinitesimally, depending on how you want to look at it, down to near but not quite exactly, zero. Zeno. Newton, but then he was outright daft.

Anyhow, after the auction, we moved over to a restaurant a few doors down, and I'm not making this up, but it was in the same vicinity as that hostage situation a few days ago in Buffalo which you might have heard about. Where a guy left his bulletproof vest behind so that he could be shot by the police who he would shoot if they didn't shoot him. And they shot him, for which he must have been grateful since he couldn't do it for himself.

But anyhow, this was also the restaurant where a very, apparently, nice dishwasher about my age but not my description pulled a gun on the sous-chef, whose father, who I guess also worked there, thus and likely without even thinking leapt between the shooter and his son, and then, far more tragically for the father than the son, lived through four bullets and still couldn't prevent one from going right through him and killing his son.

OK, and so here's the thing, quite apart from the fact that you quite evidently really can't ever quite protect your very own children, you should recognize that what terror really is. A nullifying of that nothing which is at your center. And once you recognize it, the thing to do is just get over it, alright? I mean, you're not all that special. We all have that nothing at our center, and falling for some guy - and it really is always a guy - trying to convince you that he can show you the way to salvation from that nothing, to some super uber ommmmmmm state of transcendance if only you get the rote recitations right, is just giving over truth to power, and you should just tell him as well to get over himself. I mean if he's not holding a gun at you, in which case, if you get a chance, kick him really hard in the nuts and he might start paying attention to something else for long enough that you can run like hell.

But anyhow, back to the restaurant, and I don't feel very good about saying this out loud an in public, but it's pretty much all in the news anyhow, but I know the people, glancingly, who run the place, or rather I know their parents, who are well enough off, and I'm pretty sure would do anything this side of hell to protect their four children, three of whom are now working in that same place where the shooting happened.

Where we lingered, my after church-auction crowd, to watch a comedian recruited, and likely paid, to provide the draw for a benefit for some non-profit called "Stop the Violence" I think, and so how could we leave, really, when we were the bulk of the audience.

So up on stage came these gang-bangers, is how they identified themselves, and here we were this gang of whitebreads, all except me with their proper molls (which that gang-banger wouldn't know what I'm talking about although he got on by me talking about running trains with his dad, and I was thinking Lionel in the basement), and there was plenty of laughter, and frankly gratitude that we were there, because otherwise this one poor and really actually quite good comic would have been talking pretty much to himself and to the wait staff, which was not literally true, since there were a few other tables of black folk (OK, like one, plus a friend of the performer, who the performer said didn't count), but we were making all the noise, which was almost embarrassing and almost threw the guy off his rhythm, which I could feel and was worrying about, and apparently so were a few other people, but it never did erupt into violence, which right there is a cause for something approaching hope. And I've really got to hand it to the guy, both hands clapping, that he was able to keep up a show in the face of this. This diminutive almost non-existent crowd of mostly white folk.

There's lots more to tell, and you can draw your own conclusions. I had to fake out my friends, pretending that I was going to my car, so that I could walk home through the terrifying night, but they did a drive-by in the big crossover SUV pickup combination, which by itself is not evil, and so I got a lift after all. In the end.

1 comment:

Shoptalker said...

So by teaching reading a la Hooked on Phonics, educators (or those who tell the educators what to teach) are scamming the kids--right? They are taught how to sound out the sounds but not the meanings. So it *looks* like they can read. Your vocational approach reminds me of Freire's pedagogy--acquiring literacy in the context of one's life, from the things that matter. Oh, but that would be too dangerous to connect what matters to our students to what we teach. Don't you think?