Tuesday, 14 February 2012

General Catch-up and Colonel Mustard

It's been a stupidly busy few months here, and I'm hoping I can force myself back into blag-writing mode by typing up a few small thoughts, instead of trying to jump straight back into the deep end with a full-sized essay.

Looking at Little Kids for too long
I've reached an interesting if unimportant milestone as an educator: Although 2012 is my 4th year in the teachy-tutory business, it's only this year that I've been with the same kids for over 2 consecutive years. In other words, the grade 10s I started with in 2010 are all in grade 12 now, so I've dealt with them in 3 different grades. Obviously the grade 10s and 11s I had way back in 2009 are out of school now, but I only ever saw them in 2009, so I didn't get to watch their development first-hand. And watching that progress is interesting. You get to see some kids keeping up the same struggles year after year, while others somehow manage to overcome their various hurdles and make immense progress. I wish the boss kept better records, so we could quantify that progress, but the anecdotes alone can be particularly gratifying. For example, the little grade 10 girl, either playing at or actually being a cliche ditsy blond, and either way genuinely struggling with her work, is now one of our best grade 12s, getting marks consistently over 90%. Massive brain on her, and many others, and it does get me thinking a lot about their future prospects. And there things can get a bit depressing again. I know very well how crappy the real world is at helping people make the most of themselves. Some of them have even said they want to go into marketing!

But, good news to raise the mood again: I've kept in touch with some of the kids (well, former kids) from my first batch of grade 11s from 2009, and I'm pleased to see they've turned into some fine young men, putting their large brains to good work. (I hope there are some fine young women with large brains from that batch too, since several of them got consistently higher marks than their male peers, but I haven't heard from any yet.) I'd like to give particular praise to Siyabonga, who took the unusual step of re-doing the whole of grade 12 maths and science last year. You might argue that anyone could raise their results if they got a 2nd year to try it, but 1.) not  many people actually bother to do so, accepting the added financial burden and social stigma, and B.) the man improved his results by 26% and 20% respectively, which is not a negligible improvement at all.

Fucking Babies!
More of my friends are breeding. It's like they have some instinctive compulsion or something. I'll have to write a full essay later on, explaining all the reasons this is a bad idea, but in summary: Too Many People Already, and also End of Bachelor Freedom. Of course, nobody listens to me. At the same time, I am quite keen to do my bit for those excess kids who have been forced upon the world by the breeding-mad, as a person who actually exists is a very different ethical entity to one who may only potentially exist. Unfortunately, by waiting for full existence to be confirmed, I tend to miss out on some of the more fun things, like name-picking. It's also possible that some parents get confused by my sudden post-natal flip in attitude, which may alienate me a bit too.

Inappropriate Touches on Short People
I'm quite excited about The Hobbit movies. The Lord of the Rings movies were a breathe of fresh fantasy air when they came out (the first one over 10 years ago! How old am I!?), but I've always felt The Hobbit was the better, more interesting story. I'm generally opposed to Hollywood's re-hash madness, and haven't watched a recently released movie in ages as a result of my re-hash boycott. But The Hobbit is one that may actually be more than worthwhile. There's not much that can be judged from the initial trailer alone, but I reckon it'll be alright. The one thing that really bugs me, though, is that they've fucked with the dwarf beards. Reading The Hobbit back in grade 8 English is the whole reason I chose to play a dwarf army in Warhammer, and their beards, both in that game and in the Tolkien book, are a major point of focus. It's made completely clear that they're supposed to have massive great big fuck-off beards, much as Gimli was given in the Lord of the Rings. So long, they had to be tied in knots and tucked into belts, was Tolkien's description. But instead, it seems the new dwarf look is a bunch of frizzy little gnome-whiskers, and Thorin Oakenshield himself barely has a beard at all! It's madness, and I will not stand for it, much.

I assume it was done so that racist, dwarf-hatin' audiences could tell them apart more easily, but A.) Only fans are going to care which is Fili and which is Kili, and 2.) speaking as a sculptor and painter of Warhammer dwarves smaller than 5th distal phalanx, you can totally make dozens of dwarves with similar massive beards look very different from each other. It's mainly in the eyes and noses, though clothing differences help too.

Mysterious Difficulty Finding Employment
I've known for well over a year that I need to find a new job. Tutoring just never pays enough for a fully independent lifestyle. I've sent off a few CVs, but I think a lot of the problem has to do with how uncertain I feel about my chosen academic field, Development studies. It's not that I regret studying it, but that there seems to be a massive gap between what I was hoping to do with it, and what the world will allow me to do with it. The job ads seem to fall into two neat piles, the drudgery work (reception, fund raising), and the interesting stuff (planning and management, the shit I actually studied), and I'm stuck in an awkward spot between the two, over-qualified and under-excited about the drudge pile, and under-qualified for the interesting pile, almost all of which demands a master's degree and 5 years experience, minimum. And sure, I'm working on the master's (got 2 pages of my proposal written up this weekend!), but how the hell does anyone get a foot in the door in this business?