Friday, January 13, 2006

Compare and Contrast

Fellow Motorist, El Camino
"Fellow Motorist, El Camino." Unlike most of the pictures I include in my essays, this one actually was taken in Big Shaft. Usually I post pictures that evoke a mood, or have a thematic connection.

On Thursday, I taught in a public, Big Shaft classroom for the first time. The children called my by my first name. The class was airy and structured with large play areas and lots of bins of legos. A mother helped me (she was wearing designer clothes, was built like a Swedish runway model, and was telling me how the "video game industry is dead" and she wants to be an "art teacher." I could comment on this, but I won't, I am not feeling that snarky any more). The children were sweet and respectful, and talking to them you might forget you were talking to children. Their speech was nearly text-book perfect. They all seemed to enjoy the lesson, except one little girl who collapsed in a heap of tears when her piece wasn't perfect. I think I'd cry if I was drowning in all that upper-class perfection, too. The activity involved drawing a picture of what you "wished" for on heavy aluminum foil. I saw a lot of dolphins and butterflies, computers, robots, treasures, islands-surrounded-by-hot-lava. The children wrote letters to their Dis Shaft "pals" and many of them included their repetoire of Spanish words.

Beyond IKEA
More Underwear
This is really Flip Flop, but it has a Dis-ey feel.

This afternoon I cruised over to Dis Shaft to teach the same lesson to a different set of children. The school was surrounded by fence. The yards of the 60's era ranchers in the neighborhood were also fenced, with garbage gathered in the corners. It seemed to be a town of fencing. Cyclone competed with wooden slats and iron palings topped with spikes. Even the "moderne" houses had bars over their skylights. I passed through a series of narrow doors, iron gates and windowless entrances to get to the classroom. The children were very excited to see me. The room was a jumble of teaching materials and dirty dishes. I didn't see any toys. They were very respectful and sweet. They wished for houses, their grandmas, brothers and sisters, cars and bicycles. Their teacher had to make a copy after the lesson was over, so I entertained them with a round of easy hangman. The first word was "sat" and the little stickman nearly died. Then I tried the word "today" (it was on their word wall). The 18 six year olds erupted with screams of delight. I was a fearless referee in a wild hunt for letters. On the way back to the freeway, I noticed the quaint, hand painted signs on the storefronts, the police clustered on a street and the women walking strollers. I was thinking this would be a fun place to shoot.

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