Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Literate in the darkness

Streetlights have taken night away. Before perma-day, Benjamin Franklin and his friends would run away from the maddening black abyss of nightfall and hold hands as they huddled around a candle. They were terrified into developing electricity. An exaggeration. I forget moonlight can be quite bright.

All science began with a curiosity about the stars. A nightly constant that has been observed, predicted and pondered by every civilization. Sometimes they insisted that you should connect some of them because they looked like animals (do you see the lion?). Today, the celestial wildlife is hidden by the artificial glow from our well-lit cities. I guess we're done thinking about them.

I used to work as a maintenance man at a recreation center. We cleaned up from midnight until eight am. Our ice rink was overwhelmingly lit -the glare on the white ice strained tired eyes. Our auditorium was throbbing with the dull glow of artificial light. It gives a peculiar manufactured look to colours as if we were all shot on a worn video. When we took garbage bags outside to the dumpster it was always amazing to see what time nature was trying to suggest. Inside there is one hour: on.

State education may seem like daycare for teenagers to keep their trouble causing instincts off of the street (my brother's interesting theory) but it does provide one useful tool: literacy. At no time in human history have so many people been trained and encouraged to read. I liked the metaphor of knowing the combination to a safe. Without literacy, information remains locked away. But now I prefer to think we are given a light that allows us to see more.

That should be the criteria for what tools we should expect from our teachers: lights that helps to see more. Basically, I'm arguing that our musical theater unit in drama was bullshit.

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