Monday, October 19, 2009

Local Considerations

1) I have never before given myself a painful and comprehensive upperbody sunburn by sitting in the shade. Somehow, yesterday, the shade under my poolside umbrella was just cooking with UV rays and I feel like I just stepped off the plane. Even now when I walked onto the balcony to procrastinate, I realized how businesslike the sun has become without the rainy season humidity to buffer its impact.

2) Every Liberian high school student who I know--which is all of the good surfers in this country and my personal assistant--paints a dismal picture of the education available to low-rollers. Yes, of course, this is to be expected; but what surprises me is how little school one's school fees actually purchase. At least once a week school seems to be out of session for some lazy reason or other. Teachers are writing tests. Students are reviewing for tests. It is the first week of school. It is raining very hard. Your backpack is the wrong color. You are not wearing the new school badge, which will not be available for a week. Your teacher says so.

Even when school does take place it is typically for four and a half hours. So, if you are 25 and in eleventh grade, instead of finding that your country will help you to use your maturity and age to get through perhaps two grades at once, you end up taking about 40% of a standard school year.

It's hard to push a "Stay at School" agenda in these circumstances--even though this has been a large part of the philosophy underpinning my recent online work. I'm getting very near the point of offering legitimate service industry jobs to high school students because I believe that they'll learn more and benefit more by accepting them--in place of their "studies."

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