By William Finnegan
William Finnegan's compelling account of a yr spent educating in a coloured highschool, "across the line," in Cape city, South Africa brings the irrationality and injustice of apartheid into concentration for the yankee reader. A new preface, written after the author's remark of the historical 1994 elections evaluates the development madeand no longer madetoward dismantling the apartheid process.
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Extra info for Crossing the Line: A Year in the Land of Apartheid
They had come to quell the uprising that they had assumed was occurring in my room. No uprisings did occur in my room. In fact, the feeling in my classes was the furthest thing from the violent, jailbreak atmosphere ― 50 ― of the stereotypical American ghetto high school. Some of the tougher boys might have a pack of cigarettes on them and be reputed to use dagga, but hard drugs, weapons, vandalism, open contempt for teachers, and the other symptoms of systemic breakdown that plague so many American schools were nowhere in evidence at Grassy Park High.
In fact, matrics were a truly elite corps at Grassy Park High, for they had survived a ruthless thinning of the ranks. You only had to look at the roster of students: the school's entering class was six times the size of its exiting class. And admission to the school in the first place was a privilege, available only to those who had successfully finished primary school—something that fewer than half of all black South African students do. The matrics were, in short, a very bright, ambitious group, in most cases already far better educated than their parents.
Pieterse" to "Trevor" or "Mr. Tate" to "Alex" would take a while. Meryl and I taught many of the same children (the Standard Sixes), and much of our conversation centered on them. For we found that we shared an unbridled enthusiasm, quite unknown among our more experienced colleagues, for the individual qualities of our individual students, and that we could easily spend hours discussing them, comparing their work, and laughing over their foibles. "And Aubrey September? How will he ever pass his exams?
Crossing the Line: A Year in the Land of Apartheid by William Finnegan