School Discipline: Provided in Micro-Transactions.

I am very happy with this page, if not the events and ideas that created it.

I am very happy with this page, if not the events and ideas that created it.

So today and tomorrow are both three panel compositions, with an eye toward composition more than background. There’s a context of motion that I’m after, in this case of a flying and shooting, tomorrow in the idea of running, which can be hard to capture, especially in smaller panels. This really came together nicely, from the Negative Zone Armor to the abstract Hater Creature, to the multi missiles.

One of my students proposed the idea of multiple missiles for a super powered armor suit, with the wonder that comes from listening to a twelve year old boy talking about video game technology. This young gentleman with an incredible vocabulary pulls me aside a few days ago, and says, “I like your idea of a special suit for a Negative Zone. I think though…you should give it heat seeking missiles that separate in OTHER heat seeking missiles, making it impossible to get away from them.” He then quietly sat down again, having given his sage advice.

I don’t often show my drawings to students, but that young man loves Minecraft, building things, and imagination. I felt I needed to show him that I took his idea seriously. His smile, and also laugh at the video game inspired joke in panel three, will get me through the week.

Despite the heavy inspiration of video gaming, this is actually a very school based strip. It’s just that the metaphor, along with tomorrows metaphor, are buried under layers of absurdness to the point where it’s a bit hard to see. First, you do need to understand the video game reference. I have a kindle, to which I can download tons of “Free” games. many of them are Free to download, but you get to a point in the game that encourages the buying of some kind of thing, that will allow you to unlock better in game perks. For instance, in the Iron Man 3 Game…you can slowly accumulate the in game currency by playing it, and slowly buy better and more effective Iron Man suits…or you can drop some cash, which converts to in game currency, and buy them faster.

For some games, even you ammunition is a consumable that uses in game currency. Hence the “Need Missiles?” message, with the $.99 micro transaction on the protagonist’s armor update.

You ask…what the @#$% does this have to do with your school day? Good Question.

The “Fremium” format for these games often leaves you undersupplied in tough missions. Much like is happening at my school site right now.

The first way that is happening is simple downsizing. We have a bell schedule voted on now, which means we know the number of class sections, and have a reasonable expectation of the number of students. That allows a pretty simple piece of arithmetic which defines the exact number of positions that we can no longer afford, in the absence of two multi million dollar grants. That’s about a dozen or more teachers.

For the purposes of delivering a good educational program, we are now in a Fremium gaming situation. We need to provide a solid educational program next year, but don’t have enough teachers to maintain what we have now. Like a game of “Smurf’s” Village or Age of Empires….we can spend money to get more credits, and with that, buy some of the teachers that we need. Or…downsize.

Beyond that, there is a greater problem. For two days now, I have been looking HARD at the discipline statistics for my grade level. Where they were grim before, making our school the train wreck of ISIC…our stats for the past two months are roughly the same, if not worse, than they were for the first five months. Despite a whole lot of lip service about student discipline and classroom management, and an increased number of campus aides, the sheer number of students in trouble has gone up by fifty percent. The average number of monthly infractions of a serious disciplinary nature has quadrupled. All of this follows the regression line that I calculated, almost down to the specific digits…but it is quite simply a Doomsday Calculation.

That’s the metaphor that I was looking for in the art. The protagonist has special Negative Zone Armor, and is using the fancy missiles that my student dreamed up. Long before the Haters are cast out though…she’s out of missiles, and had to buy more. Sadly though…those resources aren’t dollars, ISO-8, or even Arc Reactors. The cost of maintaining in a Negative Zone full of Haters, the cost of holding the Line, is emotional. It’s a human cost, that my team and I are finding it harder and harder to pay.

I’m thinking that I need to present “Project 42,” but am feeling too tired and discouraged to do it.

Next Issue: Who Weeps for the Mega-Haters?


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