Friday, October 23, 2009

Culture Day of Shame

One of my pet slogans for this country is "Slovenia: Underachieving in our Underachievement", and today I was given just another reason why that is.

I went to a friend's house today for a little visit. Her teenage son came into the room and I asked him how school was going. He informed me that today was Cultural Day at school and they'd all gathered in a hall to watch...wait for it.....

Gran (muthaf%&#in') Torino.

If you have not seen this movie, here is a synopsis. Clint Eastwood plays Awful White Supremacist (which is, curiously enough, what he plays in real life too). A nice Asian family (Hmong, to be specific) moves next door. Awful White Racist has a negative interaction with the son of the Asian family. Awful White Racist then takes on the son as a helper and tells him and his family awful racist things. He continues to be awful and racist until someone (probably angry at the incredibly racist, infantile, and horrifically stereotypical way that people of color were depicted in this awful racist film) finally shoots him. The End.

Here is the 2 minute version of the movie

Slovenian School Systems - A Bunch of Dimwitted Underachievers Committed to Churning Out the Next Generation of Underachievement --- For You!


Poulette said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you. I HATED this effing movie and couldn't see how most - what I used to consider normal - people I know didn't get what an awful racist cliche it was. Find it unfathomable that Hollywood can still produce this kind of shit in this day and age.

Camille Acey said...

I was shocked at this awful movie, but I am doubly shocked that it was carelessly shown to a room full of school children. And, worst yet, there was no discussion afterwards. These hateful and violent garbage was shown to a group of mixed up young people who were then just thrown out into the street. What did they learn from this? Do they think that kind of language and behaviour is OK because they saw it on the screen? I fear that they just might...

a young'un here said...

The thing about "cultural day" is that it's basically a fancy name for "we don't want to deal with you, go watch a movie or something" day. Absolutely no thought is put into choosing these movies and you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who thinks that it's a big enough deal to say anything. Thanks to days like this, I've seen American Pie and all its sequels (numerous times), Eurotrip, My Best Friend's Girl and, thanks to the dancing squad in my class, every teen movie about dancing ever. I don't think any of these movies left a lasting impression on any of my classmates, mostly because approx. 80% of the the students (the percentage rises with their age) don't pay attention.

Camille Acey said...


"The thing about "cultural day" is that it's basically a fancy name for "we don't want to deal with you, go watch a movie or something" day."

Why can't they just teach? My friend's son told me he takes like 12 or 13 subjects a year!! How do they teach all of these things between 8 and 2 and still have enough time to show braindead movies?

I am serious worried for this country.

the young'un again said...

"Why can't they just teach? My friend's son told me he takes like 12 or 13 subjects a year!! How do they teach all of these things between 8 and 2 and still have enough time to show braindead movies?"

Schools are required to include a certain number of field trips, extracurricular activities, "sport days" and these "cultural days". A lot of schools are also on a tight budget, being financed by the state and all, and it's either doing the cheapest thing possible (e.g. putting on a DVD) or doing something a bit more productive and also more expensive and making the parents pay, which not everyone can afford, especially if there are twenty similar events per year.

DoThaRiteThing said...

Please, try to be openminded. You can't take a dump on a whole country/nation/education system based on your subjective interpretation of a certain movie (i'm having more problem with "braindead" than "racist" accusation). Isn't that ... overreacting or just a bad day?:)

Camille Acey said...

@dothat - This situation called for the most inflammatory of inflammatory language. Honestly.

Above and beyond the movie, what is the PLAN with this educational system? Sit a group of teenagers down in a hall to watch a racist movie, have no discussion about it afterwards, and then give them a week long vacation to "collect potatoes" (which NO ONE is doing)? What sort of citizens are meant to be churned out of this school system? Passive spectators, it seems.

The government is touting the EU party line about innovation and creativity but at the level of the educational system, they are still very much focused on warehousing and corraling students as if they were an overswelled prison population rather than the future of this little nation.

If someone wants to really defend this, let them try. But I ain't budging from MY bully pulpit!

Layla said...

Hmm.. If they shoot him in the end, isn't it actually an anti-racist movie?
(I've never seen it and judging from what was written about it, probably never will! So, just wondering-?)

I agree young ones here are exposed to too much violent and bad films and TV series in the afternoon already!! (On TV too, not just in school!)

And Slovenian education system /sigh/ Yup, it's pretty bad.. And that's looking from both sides..
with so many things crammed in and stuff to 'go through' in a year, constant changes (usually of unimportant stuff) and constantly more paperwork.. So yup, it can be a relief for teachers to give kids a DVD to watch..

Some teachers do put some thoughts into what they choose the kids to watch, and sometimes there are discussions too, sometimes the kids bring DVDs or tapes and if the teacher hasn't seen them they may have the bad judgement to give the go-ahead! (Personally I haven't done that ever, but I can see how it could happen, with too busy teachers etc /sigh/)
I'm not sure I'd dare to put my kids in Slovenian schools, lol.. But then again some schools abroad can be pretty horrible too..?!!

Layla said...

Okay, I read this and now definitely agree that AT LEAST a discussion would be necessary..

PS Had to giggle at your title and text, cause that's probably what the root of all evil in modern Slovenia is, he he.. :) We're probably underachieving even the underachievement.. What can you expect if our cultural hero was a drunk guy? ;)
That's why I don't want to be part of it, the education system..
Well, I think US students were worse at maths or something, it was on TV.. 'At least something'..?!
Back to NanoWrimo..

Anonymous said...

i will take your explanation about the film being racist at face value. i have not seen it, so I can't talk about it. culture days are what you make of them; i watched a bunch of films while at school that could certainly be objected to: apocalypse now, death in venice and un chien andalou, for example, but what cool projects came with them – essays on PTSD, fluidity of human sexuality, relationship between art and authority ... I would not suggest generalisation based on what one teacher did, no matter how questionable.

which brings me to:
“Slovenian School Systems - A Bunch of Dimwitted Underachievers Committed to Churning Out the Next Generation of Underachievement --- For You!”

camille, we are not all idiots; in fact, I don't think we have a higher proportion of underachievers than other nations do – they're just more difficult to miss, because the place is so small. (layla – if only people also emulated f. p.'s excellency in poetry, not just his drinking. *sigh*) the system itself is plenty flawed, i have no illusions about that. after all, i've been in it long enough. but to say that ALL teachers are miserable morons whose sole purpose in life is to fuck up as many human beings as they possibly can is simply not true. i agree with layla: the administrative requirements wear teachers out, as do the lack of autonomy and respect; but that goes for every single state system.

“I am serious worried for this country.”
instead of getting pissed off, get involved! ask at the local primary school if you can participate in one of these culture days. (just don't expect to get paid much, LOL!) a jewish friend is much in demand around hannukah to talk to kindergarteners, maybe you could do something similar? ask the teachers you know. or talk to the local library – they may organise lectures or have a reading group. just do something productive and positive; calling people dimwits benefits no-one.

sorry i was so long. take care,

Camille Acey said...

@barbara - i could be more middle of the road and fair minded about things i say on here, but why? i see that my inflammatory rhetoric really draws in the crowds!

as for me getting involved in "culture day", there's not a chance. i am in the žižek "death to multiculturalism" camp, and would never attach my name to such a wrongheaded project. i am not buying the "get up and get involved thing" thing, since -- try as i may-- i don't get any sense that there is anything much worth supporting in the slovenian national project. it just seems like a lot of bureaucratic nationalism (and national-chauvinism) packaged up with a bunch of wrong-headed individualism. not my kinda party.

no, no, no, i am much happier throwing rocks from over here.

however, if/when i have kids, i will be just as (if not more) big-mouthed about how and what they will be taught.

Camille Acey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Camille Acey said...

@Layla - thanks for reading! if only gran torino were an anti-racist movie. no, he gets shot in the end but he gets a hero's death, dies totally on his own awful racist terms and even gets to sing a song from beyond the grave. it was really a hideous waste of celluloid .

but it's not just the movie. as i said in my response to barbara, the whole concept of "culture day" just seems so wrong-headed and ill-conceived.

ultimately, i am angry because for me, as a student of political science, it is so sad to see that in a small country like slovenia where democracy could actually possibly work, no one really gives a shit about how this place is being run and the fact that the next generation is being warehoused like cattle rather than actually given a useful education. the regurgitation of a million little facts doesn't mean you are educated or know how to use your brain to process information and come up with creative solutions. the fact that the educational system seems to be about "what are we going to do with these little burdens today?" rather than teachers and students tackling new materials and struggling with new concepts, really breaks my studious little heart. i really love school, man!

Anonymous said...

maybe the concept of "culture day" is sligtly confusing as culture in general tends to be, no?): the way i experienced it, it was basically an activity oriented day that concentrated on humanities, as opposed to "naravoslovni dan", which was science based. it allowed students to learn about things that were not (sufficiently) covered within the curriculum, or were deemed complex enough to merit a more integrative approach. i don't see how that would turn us into dimwits. i know my experience is not universal, but *cough* it should be *cough*

not sure i get what you mean by national project. digitalising the national library is a national project, as is eradicating cervical cancer. if by national project you mean dragging the mentality back to the 19th century: no-one i know is ok with that. why would we be, when it attacks our integrity? but where in my post did you find either?

i thought you might get involved, but if you don't, that's ok. feel free to throw rocks, just don't be surprised is people throw them back because they disagree with your targets.

with my "definition" of culture day, i pass žižek back to you: multi-culturalist he may not be, but he's involved. and he was very much involved. i was around, i should know. (one of my "cultural day" field trips actually involved interviewing local secretaries of ZSMS and their understanding of žižek's ideology. yay, bela krajina in 1989!!)

take care,

Layla said...

Hm, interesting discussion! :)

Yes, I agree, if people only emulated F.P.'s poetry and love of words, not just drinking!

Slovenia has a *huge* problem with drinking and suicides, maybe that's where the under-/overachiever syndrome kicks in too!!
Instead of packing unimportant facts into heads, it would be really great if smart independent thinking were encouraged, yeah!

Well, in some cases, it is. We've had some excellent teachers, and some horrible ones. Even now, some teachers are really good (a friend had kiddies in primary school bake 'makovke' - at Art lessons! If that isn't creative?!)

Ideally the system would encourage great teaching and learning, as it is, it's left to individual teachers and learners.

Also, we've had some AWESOME culture days at secondary school - where we basically came up with a theatre project or such, and it was great - team spirit, class work, transcending the everyday 'sameness'.. Some classes presented what could easily be on stage of a progressive theatre, some were fun and ironic criticisms of everyday culture.. (And yes some were lamer, so it again depends on individuals and their imagination.)

It's odd for me to just have kids go see ANY movie for culture day, as usually there were more varied activities.. I did like the fun of performing best, there was other stuff too..

It's not 'national' or 'nationalistic', it's celebration of 'culture' and arts, as something that is transcending any national boundaries. At least that's the way I see it.

As for getting involved - it doesn't have to be a 'culture day' as such - MANY (and by 'many' I think probably ALL!) English teachers would LOVE to have a chance of someone like you coming into the class and talk about your experience of life, your travels, etc.
(Even a Slovenian friend who lived in UK a lot went to a friend's class and the kids absolutely loved having her there, asking questions.. They didn't even figure out she was Slovenian, cause she had such perfect UK accent!!)