IF THE KIDS ARE UNITED: A “sci-fi’ed reimagining of education”

On an evening that would see a multi-generational art show themed around “a sci-fi’ed reimagining of education,” the student body of the Philadelphia School District would stage a mass walkout (not the first this year, mind you) and protest down Broad street in tremendous, exhilarating numbers. The impending school closings and continuously proposed budget cuts to schools here in Philly are frighteningly outrageous, with plans to “eliminate all sports, extracurricular activities, counselors and libraries,” and in the meantime, the city and the state governments can’t seem to keep their stories straight from their actions when it comes to allotting funds. They can make deals to let corporations come frack the land and ruin the water, they can keep abandoned homes and empty lots from neighbors who would improve them, they can greenlight casino expansions and spend several hundred million bucks on building a couple new prison facilities upstate, but they just can’t seem to find the money to keep our schools from closing down and firing as much staff as possible?

Some good folks operating under the name Brick & Mortar decided to get an art show going for us to meditate on this dystopian reality, with an open call for submissions:

Brick & Mortar is responding to the Philly School District’s announcement to close 23 schools this year and chop many more into achievement networks to be managed by public and private groups. We asked artists and visionaries: What will our education system look like in 5 years? In 10? 15? 20+? What will it be like to be a student in the future? A parent? An educator? What will our city be like as these changes are implemented?

brick & mortar flier

Metropolarity crew was hard-pressed to submit anything in time, so instead we counted the days until the show. Our highlights follow thusly: Art, video, and fiction from graphic designers, anarchist activists, and most preciously, Philly students themselves (coincidentally working with Girls Rock Philly.)

Click the images for larger views.

GPSE CONSUMER ALERT by patrick st. john

"history class" by emma willow vass, age 11
An empty classroom with empty shelves

"the future scares me" by eleanor g, age 13
“Students and teachers are brainwashed by the government.”

"yolanda" a story by suzy subways

from "yolanda" by suzy subways
A devastatingly raw piece of flash fiction.

"english" by nyree jauhar, age 15
The future of English class, overwrought by needlessly employed technology?

"not so distant future" by numar ahmed, philly student union
A one page zine containing radical fiction by Numar Ahmed, a member of the Philly Student Union

"what" by brianna, age 10
Embodiment of emotional reaction, perhaps, to the senselessness of the situation. I dare say we’ve all known this feeling.

There was also a short animation and submitted music playing, along with a few other pieces, which are absent from this collection (bonus video to follow). But to say the least, the show was IT. Seeing work after work of dystopian art & fiction from kids age 10 to 15 about their own school situation is heavy and to be meditated upon. Props to the organizers of this show, which is currently housed at The Soapbox independent publishing resource center (they have a zine library too). The kids are in the streets. There’s work to be done.

the soapbox independent publishing center