I went and saw one of my former students in jail this past weekend. Hakeem has been sentenced to 23 years with no chance of parole. He was arrested when he was 17.
He still looked like the 6th grader I knew. Same smile. A number of new tattoos.
I wasn’t sure how this was going to go. I’m not good at small talk under normal situations. The stakes are raised when you haven’t seen the person in about 6 years and they only have 30 minutes of contact with non-prisoners a week. The poor reception on the phone didn’t help anything but Hakeem seemed happy enough to see me that it didn’t seem to matter.
We talked. Apparently I need a hair cut because he thinks I look like Tom Brady. Hakeem also let me know that half my class is now in jail. He listed too many of those kids and what they were arrested for.
It’s not like I’m totally naive, I figured a number of those kids would end up in jail but each name I heard knocked me down another notch.
The whole thing has been eating at me more and more. So many people failed these kids.
I should be able to cut and paste this from the Neuromancer ebook I have on my freaking iPhone but I can’t. So here is the hand transcribed passage that reminded me of edupunk and surrounding nonsense. Not sure if the parallels qualify as irony but it’s at least interesting.
…but others (including many who’d never gone near a a science fiction novel before in their lives, nor should they have) took what came quickly, to be called cyberpunk far more seriously that they should have. Nasty remarks pelted like rain on the hard, bony heads of the more oafish supporters and detractors alike, but there was no inconsiderable fun in that. Everyone loves a fight when no one loves the fighters.
The speedy commodification of cyberpunk™ within and beyond the genre, however, was what peeved far many more, notably Gibson, who remembers seeing “Cyberpunk Trousers” advertised in a store window during his first trip to Japan, a decade ago. Countless incompetents and ghastly old hacks keen to cash in on the main chance wasted no time churning out hot jack-in product, ephemeral as toilet tissue, memorable as restaurant flyer. A number of innocents and miscreants gainfully employed in other metiers were inspired as well, God help them, to produce creative work of similar worth in the spirit of the subgenre they perceived to exist.”
from the Afterward of the 2000 edition of Neuromancer
I thought Jim Groom and a few others might appreciate this.