I worry/fear on a weekly/daily basis that my Job is rendering me dumber by the minute. I find myself searching for free moments to recapture lost and somewhat useless information--lost due to lack of use, and useless due to a profound inability to find more than a handful of students who have had any kind of sequential training. The fact that many of my sixth-graders arrive to my class with second-grade skills is maddening, not to mention that I often feel like I'm preparing them for nothing. There are THREE city high schools with active choir programs: Douglass, City, and Western. A fair number of students from my middle school will attend these schools, but most of the city's students will not. Thankfully, I know of three students who have gone on to study music in high school, so there are some rewards.
This week's cover story for the City Paper is called Bankrupting the Arts. The Opera has already filed for bankruptcy. The Senator Theater, in operation since 1939, recently closed its doors. In the rush to delay the foreclosure and auction process, the owners have ceased screenings at their other theater, The Rotunda, while they reorganize. The only movie house that doesn't seem to be threatened is The Charles. I personally attended a school board meeting, along with dozens of other fine arts teachers, to protest the exclusion of the Fine Arts Coordinator position from the budget. We were fed a lot of crap...told that the exclusion was "an oversight," and that "the function of the position will be preserved." In other words, in CEO Alonso's words, someone will be "wearing many hats." That's short for, "thank you for your opinions, but you're screwed." By the way, the City Paper comes out on Wednesdays. As of this evening, the only on-line commentary on the linked story is: "
"Good. Why should my tax dollars go toward pushing the aesthetics of bygone European royalty on the populace?"
Beyond all of this, I've been silent...more so than usual. I have no love of or flair with words, because I'm tired of hearing myself talk. I come home and drown out the day with noise or oblivion, when I could be seeking solace in the music I love, but my lack of contact with it makes me ill. It's sad that students respond readily to character themes from movies and television, but laugh when I explain how students younger than they are were shot and killed in Soweto for singing a protest song...a song about freedom.
My "dream job"--in light of my former observations--is not only highly unlikely, but highly improbable. I find myself returning in memory to months-old, job-related AMS posts concerning the dire state of higher education in the humanities, and then comparing it to the abysmal black hole of despair that threatens Baltimore. I wonder, even if I do manage to land a collegiate position in the distant future, will I even have any students to teach?