Richard Warren

20thc British art and poetry (mainly), plus bits of my own – "Clearly I tap to you clearly along the plumbing of the world" (W S Graham)

Slackerdom

The school at which I work boasts a Student News Broadcast (SNB) group. Its remit is to put together some little news films, or, failing that, at least to produce the occasional newsletter. It has been running for almost two years, and so far has managed neither. The sixth formers in charge admit that they have “underestimated” the time and skill needed to translate their great ideas –which have been legion – into any kind of outcome. This hasn’t prevented them from entering their SNB responsibilities prominently in their CV’s for Uni application.

I blame Thinking Skills. De Bono (that’s Edward, not U2) and his coloured thinking hats, that sort of stuff. Our school promoted it for a while. Kids were given the impression that all they needed to do to succeed in life was fill in a bubble map with great ideas. After a year or two, our enthusiasm for thinking skills dwindled, and the initiative, like so many others, was long forgotten before it ever amounted to much. (Or, in education-speak, it was “embedded in the curriculum”.) But in the process, the kids all turned slackers. I set a treasure hunt for my form one summer when they were bored. Some were non-plussed by the notion that you had to go somewhere physically to look for the answers. They felt they should be able to do it by sitting in the classroom and staring at the clues on the paper.

The Boy Blagger, his smart new MacBook under one arm (though he has nothing worthwhile to show on it), is the heroic type of the slacker culture. In a world of spectacle where all that was once directly lived has receded into representation, he knows that appearances count for everything, and that his own are probably in his favour. Educators and government have told him that he can become anything he wants to be, provided he believes in himself sufficiently. He has no use for results. He has ideas.

(from 101 Unrealised Projects, a work in progress)

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