The Blackboard Jungle

days spent beating back the seeds of doubt

Monday, September 20, 2004

Drunken conversation with a colleague about the modern lie: the increasing advertising of a 'functional' purpose of education.

(If the point of education is to get a job, why am I teaching anyone the power of metaphor? Why bother reading Orwell in such graphic detail? What job bears any relationship to the intimate knowledge of religious symbolism in the poems of Wilfred Owen which I demand?)

He pauses, and recites, sarcastically, a speech he'd given to sixteen year old boys, in one day a week on a literacy programme, having been farmed out to 'vocational' (read: building) apprenticeships at age 14 in an attempt to keep them from rioting in the corridors. The speech said it all, exposed the lie in full chiaroscuro:

"Listen lads, stay in school, study hard, and the world is your oyster. Eventually, if you go to college, you might just get to university, and then you can do anything you want to do. If you work hard enough, you could be standing here, in five year's time," thumbs hooked in lapels of cheap junior management suit, and heels rocking, "you could be me."