Through The Wall - An Urban Journey
by David Rambeau
I 'm teaching this term at an inner-city high-school. We won't mention the name of the institution. In this case a bit of discretion ought to be observed to protect the innocent. I didn't intend to return to teaching. The principal invited me to do so, and without adequate inquiry or investigation I accepted. My bad.
On my first day the security guard at the front entrance requested that I go through the metal detector before reporting to the office. I should have turned around right then and gone home, but I had said I'd teach so I sallied forth into the bowels of the asylum.
The profanity in the hallways was as thick as butter. As a matter of fact, the very concept of profanity or obscenity in school these days is obsolete, trivial, amusing, so I recognize that any of my thoughts in this regard are simply reflective of my anti-diluvial, reactionary history.
Friday of the first week I had three students of the twenty-odd on my class roll. Not my concern. But as I conducted the equivalence of tutoring my trio, the decibel level from the adjoining class exploded. The dear teacher next door has twenty or so ninth-graders who sound like the whole MSU student riot after the NCAA tournament game last fall. One of my students asked me if there was a teacher in the room. I knew there was, but I only shrugged and said, "I guess so." Actually a blitzkrieg was occurring, but I wasn't going to investigate. That's for the security staff or the administration; it's not in my job spec. Not today, not tomorrow, never.
The day before the class clown, one of them, crept into my seat (it's on wheels) at the desk in the front of the class while I was teaching, and backpedaled around the room in circles. Psychologically speaking, one might say he was trying to get my attention. My age and Zen studies have curbed most of my external urge to react so I put a blank look on my face, returned to my desk and overed his behavior. Eventually he got his fill of propelling himself around the room and returned to his own seat in the back of the class. I retrieved my seat and continued without comment.
Later I recalled when I was in high school many years ago, one of my instructors, a member of the Basilian religious teaching order, chased a "difficult" student through the halls and stairways of Catholic Central High. I had no intention of imitating that bizarre occurrence. Too laid back for that.
Tuesday of the second week was a peculiar day. All the students were taking something like MEAP tests, the white establishment's so-called academic barometer of student achievement. My regular class of seniors was cancelled, so I was assigned to assist the next door teacher of blitzkrieg fame who was testing her group of seniors. While I'm there student conversation runs untethered throughout the entire period. One young lady while confronting some intellectual challenge disclaimed, "If I keep fucking up on this test, they gonna put my ass back in the second grade." This must have been the cue for spontaneous ensemble dramatic participation (the curtain is always up) which ran more or less as follows.
"I don't know why you taking this test; you ought to be in special ed."
"Who got the answers?"
"The one that called the office from the penitentiary askin' how she was doin."
"Tests? It's the white man make us take these tests. I don't want no tests. I want my 40 acres and my mule."
"Stop, the teacher says. Put your pencils down."
"Can't do that," an NFL tackle-sized youth tells her matter-of-factly. He continues to work on his answer sheet. The teacher ignores his remark. So do I. She continues on with instructions about the math portion of the test. "You can use a calculator or a scratch pad," she says. Not likely I think.
These are the "kids" the Reichfuhrer David Adamany, the Lansing politricksters and the editorial writers of the daily white rags are so concerned about. How absurd? These are the students of the Detroit township experiencing a school system conceived of and implemented by Afrikaner-Americans.
We're all aware of the struggle that occurred this fall concerning Detroit's public schools.
Close up, however, the scene is on the edge, not just a garbage receptacle full of pseudo-intellectual and political rhetoric. Every day that I've been in the building there's been a struggle, a real get-down struggle for control of the asylum. Somewhat like the opening scene in Ellison's, "Invisible Man". So far I'm still in the mix. I'll keep you posted. -30-