2.26.2013

Pink Shirt Day

So,
Tomorrow is Pink Shirt Day, where we all wear pink shirts to support the idea that bullying is wrong.
My problem with it is that it seems not like a defensive move to support the kids who get bullied, but an aggressive move by anyone even remotely tied to the LGBT lobby. Now, I have gay friends, who I love and respect. One of my friends married his man this past summer. I support their need for legal rights, I don't totally get why they wanted to get married in a church, but that is a completely different matter than the right of EVERY person to have an education free from any form of persecution.
The few gay students I have encountered here in the east kootenays have been persecuted, to be sure. But it seems that it is not different from the way that anyone who is different and speaks out about it is persecuted. A few of my students who are christians have been teased so mercilessly that they are about to be homeschooled to escape what they feel is torture. I constantly defend a student with special needs because others are teasing this one. Bullying has more to do with pack mentality, mimetic violence and the fact that someone is different than the crowd. This means that if anyone is gay, religious, weak, strong, ugly, pretty, famous, or anything other than the majority of the group, they will be singled out and challenged for their difference. I don't like it, but it's how students behave in my classes. It's terrible.
The other problem with the 'anti-bullying' movement is that it is not getting anywhere near the root of the problem. To tell kids not to be bullies or whatever we say to them is completely meaningless. They don't get it. If a kid grows up being bullied (or hurt, or whatever) by their parents, of course they are going to hurt other people. It's how they have learned to live. So its not something that can be legislated or programmed, it's something that starts at home.
In music, I have the chance to teach students not only the form and content of music, but something about community because community is an integral part of creating music. When my groups are larger and voluntary, the doors will be firmly shut to anyone who shows unwillingness to learn how to belong to a group where trust and vulnerability are key values.


Oh, and teaching was better today. It's all a work in progress. Even my thoughts on this matter (pink shirt day) are progressing and I may see it differently in the future, but for now I don't like the way that it is framed. Don't get me wrong, if a kid uses the word 'gay' as a negative epithet, I don't let up until everyone in the class knows that it is completely unacceptable. I did it once in september, and I haven't heard it since. I will defend everyone's right to do their thing, but I don't think that one group deserves special attention over and above other groups. Why don't Aboriginal students get a day to be defended against bullying? God knows it happens.


2.25.2013

patience vs coddling vs proper lesson planning

I think today was the worst day teaching I have had yet. And it was uber short because one of my classes was skiing, and I have a prep. The only class I really taught today was terrible, and I couldn't tell if it was because of how I taught it, or because they were being a pain. And I think it was both.
I think I could have taught it a lot better, on reflection, because I basically started them off on the hardest part of the music we are working on, so I didn't really give them much to feel good about, didn't give them any momentum, and at the same time, they were not taking it well, which maybe is because they are young and immature. Anyways, It was brutal. I didn't like it. Though I guess a bad day fishing is better than a good day working in a mine. But the more I think about it, the more it could have been better had I done things differently. I begin to see now how my 2nd practicum really did prepare me well, much better, when it comes to structuring a lesson. Not only how, but why. The first people ranted about the structure being incorrect all the time, without much explanation of why. Terrible. the 2nd practicum people explained and showed me in the rehearsal time, why it mattered to have a consistent and thoughtful structure. Here's how it works (this is partly for a friend who recently TOC'd a band class)

1. warm up 15% approx
-something they can do easily and that is going to get some technical things working, like fingering and embouchre (mouth)
2. Exercises 25-30%
-this might be from a book, or something that they are also successful at, so they can feel good about their ability, and remember things they have worked on recently. Probably both something from a workbook and some pieces that they know well.
3. The New/Hard piece
-work on the sections in the piece that are difficult. Play the whole thing once, if possible, then do smaller bits, and then try to put them together. (this is a very cursory example/explanation)
4. End with something that you all enjoy, so you can end the class on a high note.





This is actually a reminder for me, because I didn't do this at all today. Probably mostly why today sucked. Ah well.




The original question of my post is now moot, because if I do this, I won't need to decide between patience and coddling. I sometimes wonder if I am coddling the students by enabling disrespectful behaviour, but then when I drill them for it, am I being impatient. It's a weird dichotomy, and I think part of it is that teachers have no real power. There's nothing for the students to fear anymore. Some of them anyways.

It's been a day. But as I said, if I had taught better, it might not be a question I would be asking.






2.09.2013

Winter, not enough snow here, too much over there

I am watching hockey, and enjoying it. It helps that the canucks just scored twice in quick succession. I remember my mom talking about going to local hockey games on saturday nights in sudbury. I really like the idea of representing your home town, and playing with people you know, because it is the way community would function, but the NHL, as fun as it is to watch, is all big business.

We are terribly excited about our visit home, though we won't see everyone we want to, we can't wait to be at St. Hermans. I do like our little church here in the kootenays, but it is tiny.

(aside, Phillip Phillips's song Home is great, but I am surprised at how many commercials it is in, including an awesome one featuring my bro in law for coldwell banker)

I also want to point out that a friend of mine from high school is currently in LA due to being nominated for a grammy. It's weird. I knew he would be famous, but I didn't know what that all meant. Josh Ramsay, lead singer of marianas trench, wrote half of the song 'Call Me Maybe' (surely you have heard it) as sung by mission's own Carly Rae Jepsen. Anyways, he is in LA this weekend, trying to keep his hopes low I think. Yes I like to name drop at times like this. I got to have a short visit with him in lethbridge last time they toured through the area.

We have been sick, so its been a weird week. I found an amazing store that sells all sorts of furs and it turns out a cougar pelt is worth over 2K. This area is crawling with them, so I think I will make sure to have a tag in case I see one, though I don't think I will go out of my way looking for them. I must like it here because I have plans for the spring, summer and fall already, including biking, bear hunting, fishing, hiking with the family and hunting in the fall. I still hope to get some ice fishing this winter, apparently even the river allows for ice fishing, though that seems weird.

Teaching a digital recording class, off to a slow start but I have a good plan to follow I think.

Had some visitors recently, and it was so good to see them. Also heard of some other old friends from far away who might be moving just a bit closer, but not certain yet.

We have had the fortune of visiting with my cousins from lethbridge a few times, and wish we could see them more, they are great and have kids who are close in age to ours. Laurenn usually works weekends so we just don't have an ideal schedule right now.

There's an amazing thrift shop in crowsnest pass, called Bagatelle, in a little town called coleman. we like it. Have you seen the video for the song Thrift Shop? (It's got a fair amount of F bombs, so if you don't like them, beware) but the message is clear and brilliant. The rapper has other thoughtful songs too, worth checking into. I'm a fan, despite the cuss words. check it out.


If you are reading this, there's a high likelihood that I/we miss you. Thanks for reading. Hope to see you soon, either here or there.

oh and Z turns 4 on tuesday. Craaaaazy.