Our presence was required last evening at Junior High School.
I live in a town that many others covet for the school system. I don't get that bit.
The school buildings are mostly new and not in disrepair that I could see. The administration seems fairly organized. Everyone was most pleasant.
But I can't help noticing things. And I noticed that the school is set up to amuse the faculty.
We parents were shuffled all over the place, and were lectured at by a series of teachers about what they were doing. There was no idea that the wishes and ideals of the parents of the children had any place in this setting. There was an undercurrent of like it or lump it in all of it. I fall mostly into the lump it category. Always have.
Like most all modern school buildings, the fabric of the place itself is grim and desolate. Concrete block, vinyl composition tile on the floors below, drop ceiling above. Anywhere the ceiling was exposed, it displayed all the guts of the services in the building in the postmodern way. I hate it.
The rooms are fussy without being neat. There are elaborate, almost kabuki-like rules for the behavior of everybody, but there is nothing like decorum. I went to every classroom my boy goes to, mostly ignored the teachers perorations about nothing, and instead used the time to look at my child's schoolbooks; and I marveled not only at what drivel was in them, but how little drivel they manage to fit on a page in a textbook these days.
I'm not young anymore. Since the amount of time between my experience in this setting and my re-acquaintance with it through my children has been so long, it was possible to get a kind of shock from it. It all came back to me in a moment.
I wanted to run screaming from that building. I wanted to stand up and tell them all I wasn't going to sit in this desolate rubbery landscape anymore and listen to people who had never been outdoors in the daytime drone on and on. I wanted to yell that I wanted information doled out with a ladle, not an eyedropper. I wanted to see fewer concrete blocks painted gray than your average deathrow inmate.
One teacher -- English teacher --who appeared about 14 years old and who is two inches shorter than my seventh grader already, messed up my reverie of discomfiture. She talked to us like we were short bus candidates, of course, but never mind that. She got all jazzed talking about how much fun it would be --for her, of course; made no bones about it--to teach out of a book called What is "Normal" Anyway?, with the word normal in scare quotes, of course. Let's not dwell on that, as I doubt she could have any idea just how normal and just how really scary people like me could be; real menace never touches such as her.
Then she ruined it all for me. She held up Tom Sawyer. The very edition I'm telling people to read over at the Borderline Sociopathic Blog for Boys. She said it was kind of a drag for the kids to read because it was so difficult, (she said about herself without knowing it) but they were going to slog through it.
On the car ride home, my wife asked me what I thought of my son's school.
"It'll be fine."