Angry Jamaican teachers and eager little sponges

I have an off-and-on gig with a group called the Digital Arts Foundation. They go into fifth-grade classrooms in the Bronx and Harlem and, over the course of three days, teach kids how to use digital editing tools. The end product is essentially a narrated slideshow produced by the kids, the quality of which is sometimes lacking, but point is to get them interested in making media, and comfortable with being creative. I think we succeed at that.

It’s an enjoyable job, if a little insane. (Thank goodness for the spirulina ball I brought this morning.) However, the teacher of this week’s class is a bona fide tyrant. A sixty-something Jamaican dude with a sharp dress sense (yesterday he wore a vest with Egyptian hieroglyphics on it and today he wore an eerily priest-like black collarless shirt with a cross dangling in front), he is one angry man. He yells and screams at the kids, blows his eardrum-shattering whistle at every given opportunity, and generally does his best to prevent the students from absorbing our lessons.

I heard him say to a kid today: “Don’t do anything! They’re the experts! That’s why they’re here! They know what they’re doing, you don’t!”

That is the exact opposite of what I would like to communicate. The truth is, the teacher was not learning the software at all, but the kids picked up the basics in about an hour. They do know what they’re doing.

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