Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Kids these days

So, last night's Alumni Forum went about as it always does. The kids are much the same as we were -- smart, naive, cute, shambling. It was a little more obvious this time that I was graduating high school before these kids were even born. I am even starting to be among the eldest of the alumni who come. The alumni all marvel at the thought of being at this school with cell phones, laptops, and gymnasiums (none of which existed when I attended).

A few surprises this time:
  • The section I was in was labelled "Environmental / Science". Unfortunately, ever time it was mentioned it sounded like "Environmental Science", and so we had one person show up who was interested. (Eventually some others took pity on us and joined us, so it was still productive.) In all things, marketing counts.
  • A huge crowd of kids went to the Health Professions section. The Science panel seriously discussed crashing the session with screams of "Don't go to medical school! They will press you flat like a butterfly!" But then again, that's kids for you. Nobody starts out in high school thinking, "I'm going to be a actuary!" or "I'm going to be a middle manager!" They have the usual dreams of professions: doctor, lawyer, firefighter, teacher. Huge stretches of business professions are invisible to kids because, frankly, they are abstract and boring and difficult to explain. Even with adults, it usually takes me several minutes to explain even vaguely what I do, much less convince people that it's fun.
  • It was very gratifying to have some of the students ask questions of the panelists that had nothing to do with their careers, but rather with the subject matter of their profession. One policy wonk from the EPA was asked, "What do you think about pollution credits?" What still stands out about the S&M kids is how genuinely interested they are in the world. It only served to remind me how rare it was in the business world in which I move. I can't remember the last time someone asked me a really intelligent question about what I do.
  • Every time I see these students it revives my desire to teach. There is something quickening about people so young, so alive, so full of potential and so empty of experience.


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