0153: Teaching for Change? #Revolution?
#education #SOSchat #occupyedu #OWS
The concept of teaching for revolution extends far beyond the classroom. Yes, teachers teach for change. We want the learners in our care to leave with skills and understandings that will enable them to succeed. We want to provide the opportunity to access keys to a better future. But what is a better future? Is it simply graduating, going to college, getting a good job? Is it enlightenment? Is it power? What? If we are preparing our students to be consumers alone then we are doing them a monumental injustice. It’s possible to view success as access to products and services. But, could success be viewed as a transfer of power from one entity to another? A shift in the status quo? An outright overthrow or disruption? An equalization of powers? I think we should seek to answer these questions. Certainly, teaching for social justice has a root or two in the understanding that there is an imbalance of power. People, the People, must always push against authority when it becomes oppressive, suppressive, and flat out greedy. I don’t believe education as a whole will go the way of this form of teaching, but it has it’s place among the people who are blindly crushed beneath the heel of a leviathan. If you see injustice, if you know it as constant force in our day to day existence, help us gather and continue sharing ways we prepare our learners for success.
0108: #Creativity Awareness = Motivation, Humanization, and Success
#education #SOSchat #artsed
I currently teach music, choral and music appreciation, to grades 7-9. It can be a joy and/or a great struggle. Music is an interesting subject matter alone, but can easily cross over into other subject matter not pertaining directly to music. Of course, there is poetry that accompanies the melodies. Songs and styles of music are situated in a certain area, culture, situation, social movement, what have you. Music embodies or at least reflects the historical situation that caused the piece to spring forth out of someone’s consciousness. Music involves acousti-physics and all forms of mathematics. Best of all there is no test. It can be a hiding place for revolutionaries in schools who want to teach beyond the curriculum and allow their students freedom to learn. It’s a place that builds or can build tremendous self-discipline and allow for intellectual and spiritual exploration. Critical thought can be allowed to thrive in a classroom that is free from the oppression that is testing. I taught algebra prior to teaching music. I’m able to be much more human without the test, and still remain sympathetic to my friends and colleagues who remain steadfast in their dual challenge to prepare their students for the test and still strive to teach and build critical learners. It’s difficult, I know. My heart is with you as you struggle.
I have begun the process of teaching music composition to one of my music appreciation classes. This is not a part of the state curriculum; the State seemingly does not concern itself, even in a music classroom, with nurturing creativity. Regardless of prescribed curriculum, it is beyond important that humans discover their ability to create. This is, after all, one of the greatest parts of being human. We possess a tremendous intellect that permits us to create and transform culture. We often need reminding of our ability to create culture. I cannot express the light I saw in Anthony’s face when he brought his staff paper to the piano with some scribbled chords he had written and heard me play what he had written. Anthony is not an average student academically, he struggles in every subject, and spends most of his time in ISS or the principal’s office. He’s beat down and discouraged, he acts out. I got to witness and great moment of humanity and awakening when I saw him arrive at the understanding that he created culture. This goes far beyond behavioral success and efficacy. This enters the realm of metaphysical transformation in a seventh grader with a bad attitude.
All teachers don’t get the privilege or have the desire to teach in the arts. It’s a difficult field. It, like algebra, takes persistence and great persuasion. It’s frustrating. It does allow for creation though on a regular basis. We all know that moment of genesis though, in any course, when a student become more than a passive recipient and enters the realm of creator. It can be as simple as the moment a learn formulates a question based on their own synthesis and analysis of a topic. It can be the designing of a complex or simple equation. Writing a story. A poem. Whatever. Regardless of our subject matter, we must help our students realize that they are creators and transformers of culture. This is how we make them participate more. This is how we help them realize their potential. We have to let them see their own power. They are cultural creators. We have to make that understanding a priority, tests be damned. Teachers are on the front lines of a strange war for the consciousness of a people. We have to give those in our care the tools to be masters of themselves and their worlds. Teachers teach for awakening.
0047: Social Justice, Feminism, and Music Class
#socialjustice #feminism #teach
Songs are powerful tools for teaching. They are relevant to a culture, a time, and a place. They deliver messages in a way that allows a participant to soak it in at their own pace. And, when accompanied with good critical discourse they can leave a lasting impression that pushes towards transformation.
I teach in a junior high—the land of uncontrollable hormones. The struggle to fit in is timeless and results in countless self-betrayals. It’s a time of sexual discovery for many— many without their consent. But, many don’t know that consent is required. The example is set around them. The men rule the roost. He takes what he wants, when he wants. Even though the woman may run a household and father is distant or not present, many submit when he comes around. Following suit, the girls I teach allows guys to touch them however, push them around, degrade them, and so forth. Clearly that’s (hopefully) fought off by the watchful eye of a teacher in a class, but outside its up to the individual. I’ve talked to many girls, and boys about the topic. When I first started teaching I was shocked when my girls expressed their views of themselves to me. Many considered themselves property. They had no reason to not allow a male to do what he wanted, because they has seen the violence that resulted in fighting off advances. Many of them had never been told that they absolutely have every right to say “no” or “stop”. It’s engrained through constant oppression. It must be breached. The subject must be brought into the open and discussed. There is so much silence and acceptance.
I planned a lesson around this topic today, but rather than lecturing which generally leads to nods and minimal discussion. We learned a song, this is music class after all. The song was “I know a young woman who swallowed a lie”, to the tune of The cumulative song about the old lady who swallowed a fly. The young woman swallows a lie, then the rule to serve others, then some fluff about make up and candy, and then a line about being “dumb, baby”, and then a ring, and some Spock about being just a mother and tending the flock. Of course she becomes liberated at the end and regurgitates the whole bit. We sang the song the boys looked shocked and the girls where full of comments, questions, and ready to discuss. Girls in this class who are typically quiet and passive spoke up. These are 7th and 8th graders mind you. One boy said that women were supposed to stay home. He got 10 fiery looks and quickly said he was joking. This was an unexpectedly good discussion. The song allowed for a slow realization of the point, and it wasn’t a lecture from some paternalistic teacher. We shared a cultural experience and then they discussed the content of the song without needing me.
The topic will not disappear. The fact that it isn’t just a topic, but a painful reality for many will not change. We can’t remain silent though. And we have to empower those in our care to breach the silence, and to stand up for themselves. I accidentally was a good teacher today. There should be more accidents like this one.