The Beast From Water.
This post is so late today because I had 49 parent conferences yesterday, from 4PM to 8PM.
Forty Nine. That’s about one every five minutes.
Ironically, the school wanted us to call home, and make specific appointments, to speak with certain students. I had tried to line this sort of thing up because it is both smart, and a very solid use of time and energy, directly targeting things that need to be spoken about. Heck…I really wanted to set up conferences to speak about plans for college, with my students that are Juniors.
Why is that ironic? Well, the admin team of Edu-Lords made it mandatory that we turn in our appointment list. Arguably, this was so that with the strategy that they wanted, teachers just didn’t skimp on the appointments, and close their doors to grade papers for four hours. That would have been nice, actually. It was a sensible idea, and I planned a conference every fifteen minutes. Still a pretty aggressive pace.
The Edu-Lords went a step further though. After being quite pointed about the “mandatory appointment list”, they had the computer make robo calls to EVERY single student’s house, announcing “drop in” parent conferencing. This effectively tripled the turnout, and had people just wandering in to other parent conferences, with no idea of confidentiality. I can handle a more “drop in” style of conferencing…but not after a HUGE deal is made about actually making specific appointments.
The one concept totally cancels out the other.
The evening was fine…I handled it, but in many ways it was like dealing with a giant super octopus in the Savage Land. You get one arm under control…and there’s another that you have to deal with. You know it’s going to get dealt with, because well, its just a super octopus, but you want to do it the Right Way, so that you get sushi later. The Right Way, of course, is always more of a chore, and annoying.
There’s actually a culture at the school, among the adults and consequently the students, by “trickle down” that reflects this. I can be having a conversation, potentially an important one, with another teacher…and really anyone on campus will simply walk up, and interject with their own topic. There’s no waiting, or anything of that sort…just a sort of “talking over” the existing content. It’s a form of interaction that flows from the principal herself down to the greenest freshman, and quite frankly, I find it grating.
It makes it fundamentally impossible to finish anything…and I pretty much am set up as a person that needs to see things through. People that know me outside of work invariably know what happens in this situation…I usually refuse to go back to the initial conversation, precisely because I’m annoyed.
Still…it’s a pretty “Lord of the Flies” state of affairs. Heck, even the kids on the island in that book develop the “conch rule”, where you can’t talk unless you are holding the shell. In the text, it is pretty much outlined as a matter of “nobody can hear anything, or get anything done” if everyone talks at once about their own thing.
So in part…my super octopus art is about that very point. Somehow, on my campus, we insist on believing in the “beastie” instead of rules, and all sort of yammer at once. It’s frustrating an unproductive on the best of days.
We have in fact, just gotten through Chapter Five, “The Beast From Water.” That chapter is in large part a meeting, where everyone talks at once and drops in and out, which seemed to reflect the “professional paradigm” of my Edu-Mountain, and the structure of Parent Conference Night. Eventually, the meeting in the text turns to the idea that there might be a “beastie” on the island, an unfriendly animal that might kill them. The older character insist that they have explored the island, and that there is no “beastie”, and then Roger suggest that it might be a squid.
After that, they get into the idea that it might be a ghost.
The squid part there, is what drove the art, obviously. The idea of struggling with all the arms as a metaphor, and not just being able to chuck the @#$% thing to the Moon, because of Reasons…it all came together in the art.
It got me thinking though…why did no one in the chapter suggest a Ghost Squid? Could a Ghost Squid eat you or not…it would be intangible at least sometimes, right? But what kind of unfinished business would a Squid have, that it didn’t finish in life, besides eating? It would seem that if there were a Ghost Squid, it would have to eat…in some tortured quest for a highly specific last meal or somesuch.
Obviously, that’s not even a squid above, but a super octopus, probably prehistoric in nature. Apparently in 2015 the fossilized beak of a prehistoric octopus was found, and that suggested a creature in size about two feet in diameter, without the arms. That’s pretty big for an octopus, and very much the proportions above…figure that’s about two or three feet right there, minus the arms.
I just felt like drawing an octopus. Usually, I just draw the tentacles of giant squid, so this was pretty ambitious.
And now…I need a nap.