Sunday, December 11, 2011

More Paolo

Your Existence Gives Me Hope
I like being human, being a person, precisely because it is not already given as certain, unequivocal, or irrevocable that I am or will be "correct," that I will bear witness to what is authentic, that I am or will be just, that I will respect others, that I will not lie and thereby diminish the value of others because of my envy or even anger of their questioning my presence in the world. I like being human because I know that my passing through the world is not predetermined, preestablished. That my destiny is not a given but something that needs to be constructed and for which I must assume responsibility. I like being human because I am involved with others in making history out of possibility, not simply resigned to fatalistic stagnation. Consequently, the future is something to be constructed through trial and error rather than an inexorable vice that determines all our actions.  - Paolo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom

A space to keep inspiring things . . .

A thirdspace?
A cupboard for mismatched china?

We should devote ourselves humbly but perseveringly to our profession in all its aspects: scientific formation, ethical rectitude, respect for others, coherence, a capacity to live with and learn from what is different, and an ability to relate to others without letting our illhumor or our antipathy get in the way of our balanced judgment of the facts. - Paolo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom

The planet is set up for
Wild things, not money and reputations, not desks
And questions, but the obliterating intelligence of
Pure play. - Aram Saroyan
No matter how much someone may irritate me, I have no right to puff myself up with my own selfimportance so as to declare that person to be absolutely incompetent, assuming a posture of disdain from my own position of false superiority. - Paolo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom
"[W]e cannot think of ethical questions in regard to elephants, for example" - Paolo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom

While Homo sapiens were emerging from the basic life-support structure, intervening creatively in the world, they invented language to be able to give a name to things that resulted from its intervention, "grasping" intellectuality and being able to communicate what had been "grasped." It was becoming simultaneously clear that human existence is, in fact, a radical and profound tension between good and evil, between dignity and indignity, between decency and indecency, between the beauty and the ugliness of the world. In other words, it was becoming clear that it is impossible to humanly exist without assuming the right and the duty to opt, to decide, to struggle, to be political. All of which brings us back again to the preeminence of education experience and to its eminently ethical character, which in its turn leads us to the radical nature of "hope." In other words, though I know that things can get worse, I also know that I am able to intervene to improve them. - Paolo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom

Friday, December 9, 2011

Final Papers

It's finals time.  I have many papers due in not many days.  Tea is called for.  The mismatched china matches the mismatched bits in mah mahnd.
Also, study music.

Monday, November 21, 2011

This is what we want from our students! "engagement with the world, thoughtfulness in building that engagement, and action arising from that engagement." But only sometimes. And only when we say so. And only when they're repeating what we've told them.

"After decades of complaining about student apathy, now a generation steps forward to make its voice heard and is promptly pepper-sprayed." So well said. We can't tell our students to think critically and them punish them for turning that critical eye on us. That's the whole point!

From Edge of the American West:

Cathy Davidson makes excellent points about the UC Davis situation and how higher education should respond in general:

I keep hearing the arguments that universities have to call in the police to protect the students, that the Occupy encampments are unsanitary, unsafe, and insecure. That’s almost comical when you teach at Duke where “tenting” is one of our most venerable student traditions. A tent-city called K-Ville has been thriving since 1986. Krzyzewskiville ( is an encampment of students staying in tents, in winter, for weeks at time in order not to lose priority getting into Duke basketball games. A few years ago, my students and I even looked at the community rules and community standards for K-Ville in order to understand self-organizing community groups, constitutions, and regulation. You can read the university’s own evolving rules for this extraordinary phenomenon here: If K-Ville can thrive safely, securely, and with proper sanitation even in the heat of winning and losing basketball championships, for a quarter of a century, so can a well-organized group of students fighting for their education, for better funding for their university, and for their future.

I would point out, by way of extending Davidson’s points, that the political activism of the Occupy movement is exactly what faculty want of their students: engagement with the world, thoughtfulness in building that engagement, and action arising from that engagement. After decades of complaining about student apathy, now a generation steps forward to make its voice heard and is promptly pepper-sprayed.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I'm late on this but, still, speechless.

From sfist:

UC Davis Follow-Up: Chancellor's Eerily Silent Walk of Shame, Faculty Member's Open Letter
As the Second Alarm reports [via BoingBoing], a large crowd of student protesters and their supporters interrupted a press conference on Saturday afternoon with UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi and campus police, demanding a response regarding Friday's brutal pepper spraying incident, along with her resignation. Initially, Katehi refused to leave the building, allegedly intending to give the press the impression that the crowd was trapping her inside.

The crowd then dispersed and formed a large gap in order to allow the Chancellor to exit, chanting “we are peaceful” and “just walk home,” and remained there for three hours. The above video documents the agonizing three-block walk that the Chancellor took to her car, which is so silent you can hear every one of her footsteps resonating on the pavement.
A few reporters can be heard asking Katehi questions in the footage, and at one point, she tells them she will address the students on Monday.

Additionally, Nathan Brown, an assistant English professor at UC Davis issued a scathing open letter to Chancellor Katehi asking on behalf of The Davis Faculty Association that she step down.

Brown details the pepper spraying incident:

Without any provocation whatsoever, other than the bodies of these students sitting where they were on the ground, with their arms linked, police pepper-sprayed students. Students remained on the ground, now writhing in pain, with their arms linked.

What happened next?

Police used batons to try to push the students apart. Those they could separate, they arrested, kneeling on their bodies and pushing their heads into the ground. Those they could not separate, they pepper-sprayed directly in the face, holding these students as they did so. When students covered their eyes with their clothing, police forced open their mouths and pepper-sprayed down their throats. Several of these students were hospitalized. Others are seriously injured. One of them, forty-five minutes after being pepper-sprayed down his throat, was still coughing up blood.

He then uses Katehi's own words against her:

On Wednesday November 16, you issued a letter by email to the campus community. In this letter, you discussed a hate crime which occurred at UC Davis on Sunday November 13. In this letter, you express concern about the safety of our students. You write, “it is particularly disturbing that such an act of intolerance should occur at a time when the campus community is working to create a safe and inviting space for all our students.” You write, “while these are turbulent economic times, as a campus community, we must all be committed to a safe, welcoming environment that advances our efforts to diversity and excellence at UC Davis.”

I will leave it to my colleagues and every reader of this letter to decide what poses a greater threat to “a safe and inviting space for all our students” or “a safe, welcoming environment” at UC Davis: 1) Setting up tents on the quad in solidarity with faculty and students brutalized by police at UC Berkeley? or 2) Sending in riot police to disperse students with batons, pepper-spray, and tear-gas guns, while those students sit peacefully on the ground with their arms linked? Is this what you have in mind when you refer to creating “a safe and inviting space?” Is this what you have in mind when you express commitment to “a safe, welcoming environment?”

Katehi told CNN that she has set up a task force made up of faculty, students and staff, which will review the events and will "provide a report within 90 days." She is refusing to step down.

Update: Commenter Speedbird_9 brings it to SFist's attention that Katehi was allegedly involved in a scandal at the University of Illinois, in which "the school admitted hundreds of students with weak academic records following the efforts of politicians and other heavily influential people to lobby on their behalf," as reported by The People's Vanguard of Davis back in 2009.

Monday, November 14, 2011

My IMDB profile . . .

has a new entry.  Location scout.  Googling your name sometimes returns fun results!  I had forgotten about my movie career!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

. . . ; the centre cannot hold; . . .

From Edge of the American West, up and running again.  The phrase "the center cannot hold" always punches me in the gut, leaves me gaping and gasping, my heart too full and too achingly empty.  But it is apt here.  I feel like posting the whole of the Yeats would be alarmist, would be overly emotional, would be unfair and inflammatory, but, nonetheless, the center cannot hold.

I wasn’t there. I don’t know what happened. But it certainly looks like UC police began beating unarmed and peaceful students in Berkeley this afternoon.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, in the unfortunately named Happy Valley, students apparently are rioting to protest the ouster of Joe Paterno.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

An evening in Fall

The New Spain Cocktail
Bourbon + Amontillado Sherry + Dash of Orange Bitters, on ice

by Lucy Maud Montgomery 

Now at our casement the wind is shrilling,
Poignant and keen
And all the great boughs of the pines between
It is harping a lone and hungering strain
To the eldritch weeping of the rain;
And then to the wild, wet valley flying
It is seeking, sighing,
Something lost in the summer olden.
When night was silver and day was golden;
But out on the shore the waves are moaning
With ancient and never fulfilled desire,
And the spirits of all the empty spaces,
Of all the dark and haunted places,
With the rain and the wind on their death-white faces,
Come to the lure of our leaping fire.

But we bar them out with this rose-red splendor
From our blithe domain,
And drown the whimper of wind and rain
With undaunted laughter, echoing long,
Cheery old tale and gay old song;
Ours is the joyance of ripe fruition,
Attained ambition.
Ours is the treasure of tested loving,
Friendship that needs no further proving;

No more of springtime hopes, sweet and uncertain,
Here we have largess of summer in fee
Pile high the logs till the flame be leaping,
At bay the chill of the autumn keeping,
While pilgrim-wise, we may go a-reaping
In the fairest meadow of memory!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Falling apart . . .

A WEATHER blog (WEATHER... weather!) reports on government wrongdoing when traditional media turns a blind eye:
Published on October 25, 2011 8:30 pm PT
- Signed by SEO Officer
( - This is not usually something TWS reports on but no other 'media' outlet will. During the Occupy Oakland march tonight (Tuesday), ABC News in the Bay area shut cameras off on the ground and in the sky the moment police attacked.

They said the chopper needed
to refuel and will be back, but we all know this was not correct. A coincidence that both CBS and ABC choppers needed to refuel at the time police started attacking?

There was a camera on the ground for a full minute showing exploding canisters, people screaming, and gas being covered everywhere and that was shut off shortly after.

This is the constitution, protests are allowed by it. For CBS and ABC to shut the cameras off during the time police violated the rights of the American people is journalism at the worst, in fact not even close to the integrity a real media outlet should bring.

Choppers are back in the air now as the march goes on.

Saturday Mornings

Saturday Mornings are a good time to catch up on all the politically blogs I don't have time to read during the week.  My mind starts humming, revving up for the day.  I get angry.  I get motivated.

And then, THEN, I come across delicious little morsels like this that are totally unrelated but so fantastic.

From TNC

Okay A) I want Phil to sing this to me, and
B) I think I want neon signs that say LOVE (with a peace sign as the o) and SEX to hang over our bed.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

From MUSE: Teacher Preparation and the Achievement Gap

Sen. Bernard Sanders [I, VT] last Monday introduced S. 1716: A bill to amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to improve teacher quality and increase access to effective teachers.  The bill's findings are interesting (and are copied below).  They state that teacher quality is the most important factor in student achievement and quote studies that have found that teacher quality is a significant contributor to the achievement gap.

The bill proposes to make changes to 20 U.S.C. 7801 et seq., the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.  As part of these changes, a detailed definition of "effective" (i.e., "effective teacher") would be inserted, and the state would be required to provide "additional supports" to any district that could not meet "equitable distribution standards," i.e., 20 U.S.C. 6312(c)(1)(L), which dictates that districts must "ensure, through incentives for voluntary transfers, the provision of professional development, recruitment programs, or other effective strategies, that low-income students and minority students are not taught at higher rates than other students by unqualified, out-of-field, or inexperienced teachers[.]"

I'm intrigued and curious to know what you all think.  In some ways, I'm concerned about implementing random, incremental changes (kind of generally, vaguely, incoherently).  In others, I think taking steps toward equitable distribution of qualified teachers is super important.

Also, I want to see these studies they're talking about.  Also, I want to learn more about this Act.


P.S. I know about this bill because of emails I get sent by, which I encourage you all to look into.  You choose search terms, and any time any action is taken by Congress that
implicates that search term, you get an email (or regular digests of these actions). 
(1) Teacher quality is the most important school-related factor influencing student achievement. Compared to fully certified teachers, teachers who have not completed a certification process had significant negative effects on student achievement on 5 of the 6 tests included in a large-scale longitudinal study conducted in Houston, Texas. Teachers who have not completed a certification process were primarily assigned to teach African-American and Latino students. Such teachers’ attrition rates were nearly double those of certified teachers.
(2) Large-scale studies in New York and North Carolina found that teachers were significantly more effective when they were fully prepared and certified prior to entry, had strong academic backgrounds, and had more than 2 years of experience. The North Carolina study found that these factors, together with National Board Certification, accounted for more of the difference in student achievement gains than race and parent education combined.
(3) A study of elementary school students in Arizona found that students of certified teachers performed significantly better than students of under-certified teachers on all 3 subtests of the SAT 9, including reading, mathematics, and language arts. Students of certified teachers out-performed students of under-certified teachers in reading by about 4 months on a grade equivalent scale, and in mathematics and language arts by about 3 months.
(4) A national study of 4,400 early educators found that teacher certification was particularly influential in predicting achievement for African-American students. Having fully certified teachers helped to narrow the achievement gap between African-American and White students in early elementary grades.
(5) A statewide study in Florida found that teachers with pre-service preparation and certification in special education were significantly more effective in teaching special education students in both mainstream and special education classes.
(6) In 2001, students in California’s most segregated minority schools were more than 5 times more likely to have uncertified teachers than students in predominantly White schools, and in some schools a majority of teachers were uncertified. Since teacher credential standards were lowered in the 1990s, nearly 50 percent of the State’s new teachers entered the teaching profession without training, and almost all of these teachers were assigned to teach in high-need schools. Half of California’s current interns-in-training are teaching special education students.
(7) The achievement gap between White students with college-educated parents and Black students with high-school educated parents would be much reduced if low-income minority students were routinely assigned highly qualified teachers, rather than the poorly qualified teachers that such students most often encounter.
(8) A national study found that students in high-minority schools had less than a 50 percent chance of being taught by a mathematics or science teacher who has a degree or a license in the field that the teacher teaches.
(9) As teachers increase their experience in schools, their increased individual and collective knowledge of pedagogy and practice directly and positively impacts student achievement. Teacher retention also results in cost-savings for distressed school districts, reducing the need to constantly recruit, hire, and mentor new teachers. The National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future estimates that growing teacher dropout rates cost over $7,300,000,000 annually.
(10) A nationwide study by the National Center for Education Statistics found that among recent college graduates, 49 percent of those entering the teaching profession without certification left the profession within 5 years, compared to only 14 percent of teachers who were certified.
(11) In special education fields, as in other fields, uncertified teachers are twice as likely to leave their positions, compared to beginning teachers who have greater teaching preparation. According to the United States Office of Special Education Programs, more than 12,000 special educator openings were left vacant or filled with substitute teachers who were not certified in special education.

This post was also published on MUSE '13

Friday, October 21, 2011

... unreal


My God, my God. . .thou art a figurative, a metaphorical God. . .a God in whose words there is such a height of figures, such voyages, such peregrinations to fetch remote and precious metaphors, such extensions, such spreadings, such curtains of allegories, such third heavens of hyperboles, so harmonious elocutions, so retired and so reserved expressions, so commanding persuasions, so persuading commandments, such sinews even in thy milk, and such things in thy words, as all profane authors seem of the seed of the serpent that creeps, thou art the Dove that flies. . .Neither art thou thus a figurative, a metaphorical God in thy word only, but in thy works too. The style of thy works, the phrase of thine actions, is metaphorical. . .Neither didst thou speak and work in this language only in the time of thy prophets; but since thou spokest in thy Son it is so too. How often, how much more often, doth thy Son call himself a way, and a light, and a gate, and a vine, and bread, than the Son of God, or of man? How much oftener doth he exhibit a metaphorical Christ, than a real, a literal?

- John Donne, Devotions, #xix
from The Muse Daily

Nuance, baby.

I would not argue for a pride that insists America has worked out all of its problems, and evidences that work by exporting its institutions via tank and bomber. I would argue for a studied pride, a gratitude, that understands all that was sacrificed, that we could have easily tilted the other way, that the experiment is still, even now, fragile, and remains in constant need of the lost 19th century concept of improvement.

"Historically, a story about people inside impressive buildings ignoring or even taunting people standing outside shouting at them turns out to be a story with an unhappy ending."

I'm pretty excited to read the other writers because this is pretty awesome:
1. If you work hard, and become successful, it does not necessarily mean you are successful because you worked hard, just as if you are tall with long hair it doesn’t mean you would be a midget if you were bald.
2. “Fortune” is a word for having a lot of money and for having a lot of luck, but that does not mean the word has two definitions.
3. Money is like a child—rarely unaccompanied. When it disappears, look to those who were supposed to be keeping an eye on it while you were at the grocery store. You might also look for someone who has a lot of extra children sitting around, with long, suspicious explanations for how they got there.
4. People who say money doesn’t matter are like people who say cake doesn’t matter—it’s probably because they’ve already had a few slices.
5. There may not be a reason to share your cake. It is, after all, yours. You probably baked it yourself, in an oven of your own construction with ingredients you harvested yourself. It may be possible to keep your entire cake while explaining to any nearby hungry people just how reasonable you are.
6. Nobody wants to fall into a safety net, because it means the structure in which they’ve been living is in a state of collapse and they have no choice but to tumble downwards. However, it beats the alternative.
7. Someone feeling wronged is like someone feeling thirsty. Don’t tell them they aren’t. Sit with them and have a drink.
8. Don’t ask yourself if something is fair. Ask someone else—a stranger in the street, for example.
9. People gathering in the streets feeling wronged tend to be loud, as it is difficult to make oneself heard on the other side of an impressive edifice.
10. It is not always the job of people shouting outside impressive buildings to solve problems. It is often the job of the people inside, who have paper, pens, desks, and an impressive view.
11. Historically, a story about people inside impressive buildings ignoring or even taunting people standing outside shouting at them turns out to be a story with an unhappy ending.
12. If you have a large crowd shouting outside your building, there might not be room for a safety net if you’re the one tumbling down when it collapses.
13. 99 percent is a very large percentage. For instance, easily 99 percent of people want a roof over their heads, food on their tables, and the occasional slice of cake for dessert. Surely an arrangement can be made with that niggling 1 percent who disagree.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A New (old) American Dream

The idea of reclaiming the American Dream has popped up a lot for me recently. Attention must be paid.

First, I went to a Teachers for Social Justice Conference and had my MIND BLOWN (and fell in love a little bit) at a breakout session/workshop thing. You can read about that here. Then this whole Occupy Wall Street thing, which, I am kinda sad to say, I haven't been paying much attention to. But it's there, percolating. And the people are there, working hard, despite my inattention. And then there was this blog entry from Cary Tennis at Salon, who I had never heard of before my husband sent me a link to this today. He is amazing. (I'll let that pronoun reference remain ambiguous - they both are really.)

The text I am excerpting below is a response to a question sent in by a reader asking for help understanding why he (the reader) still dreams of being a corporate lawyer, still thinks of this as his "dream job," despite having ample evidence that getting such a job will make him miserable. This, I can relate to. But Mr. Tennis provides a more thoughtful answer than I have given myself in the year or two (depending from when you start counting) since I left law. Not only that, he manages to wrap in so many things I've been thinking about in relation to my nascent educational philosophy. My nascent philosophy on life, really, because it is
all related to questions about how I choose to live my life, including but not limited to why I chose to leave law and work in public education.

You know what? Screw excerpting: I'm putting in the whole answer (with the caveat that I like England despite never having been). But before I go, I have to address one very important thing that Mr. Tennis says near the end of this piece. He posits "how do we find that America that we really are looking for, that America of the dream, warm, embracing, large of heart, free, equal, meritocratic but egalitarian, energetic, kind, not warlike but strong?" and then answers that we must "go look for it, man. And when you find it you write to your friends."

I feel like I am in the midst of finding this America for myself. So I'm taking him at his word and committing to write and talk to my friends about it. Commitments like this are easy to break, but I have good intentions, strong beliefs, and passionate desires. So, I'm hopeful. And now without further ado, the man himself:

So complete is the corporate takeover of the American psyche that we find ourselves unable to imagine ourselves outside of it. Such is the evidence of its victory. Rather than imagine ourselves as apostates, the best we can do is imagine ourselves as high priests inside the kingdom.

Yet the corporate takeover of the American psyche has not yet gone quite deep enough to dislodge the ever-present dream of setting out for a better land.

What better land is left? Where are we to go now? Where is there an America for us to flee to? We fled here and now this is turning into what we fled. That is why we are camping out in our own downtowns, for there is no more America for us to flee to. We must flee to our own hearts and find America there. We must sail into the rough seas of our own selves to find the farther shore. There is no other frontier.

And then, that America we must bring out to the downtowns of our cities, to put on display not like a museum display of Native Americans and pilgrims but as a living, breathing town, a living, breathing nation: a dream embodied in the rabble.

You know me. You know how I think. For me, every desire is a symbol of another desire, every symbol a symbol of another symbol. Every longing for a corporate job looks like a longing for citizenship; every request for a raise looks like a request for recognition by the king; every longing for class acceptance looks like a longing for love.

So forgive me if I insist that your desire to be a corporate lawyer is a stand-in for some other desire. I suggest that what you long for is not necessarily a job as a corporate lawyer per se, but a decent place in the American firmament. So you, my friend, have to find within you what is more primal. What is it that you desire? I would guess you desire to be told that you matter, that you count, that you are a full member. But you don’t want to hear it from me. You want to hear it from your own land and your own people, your motherland, your fatherland, your homeland. You long for America to finally say to us, yes, I see you, come sit at the table with the prime rib and the roast duck: You matter; yes, we respect you; yes, you are a part of all this! You want to hear it said loud and clear that you matter and that your natural inclinations and personality matter, that you are not provisional, that you are a full member, that you don’t have to earn your citizenship, you already belong.

Your ambivalence and torment are a part of it. Don’t you see? The savage wounding of history and the bright summer night full of fireworks, these two at war in your skull: That’s American too. That’s as American as Mitt Romney eating a corn dog.

And you know what else is American? The right of a writer like me to say such things and not even know exactly what I’m saying. Progress not perfection, my friend. We walk around with longing in our hearts and we express the longing before we work it all out. That’s the American way, too.

This is who we are.

So you know what the Occupy Wall Street people look like to me? They look like pilgrims. The soul of America in whiteface setting out to sail into themselves, looking for what they lost. Like a baffled bar patron looking for her purse, they are looking for an America that was there a minute ago and somehow vanished.

The world of Brooks Brothers and pedigrees is not the America your soul is looking for. That America is nothing more than a Hollywood England, a backlot stage set of public-school snobbery, repressed sexuality and stiff upper lips. It’s American in fashion but not in spirit; in spirit it is old snobby England.

So how do we find that America that we really are looking for, that America of the dream, warm, embracing, large of heart, free, equal, meritocratic but egalitarian, energetic, kind, not warlike but strong? The America that says you matter not because of your college rank or your company rank but because you are endowed with certain inalienable rights, among them the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

You go look for it, man. And when you find it you write to your friends. End of story. That has been good enough for millions before us and it ought to be good enough for us. You have the right to live the life you actually want to live, and you have the right to be proud of that life, and the corporate takeover that has sucked the marrow out of our bones and left us confused as to our heritage and our progeny and purpose, that corporate takeover is coming to an end, as we finally wake up and see what we have allowed to happen, and begin to assert ourselves once again.

We are indeed not Wall Street. We are more street than Wall Street. We are the proud rabble who would rather eat hard tack and risk scurvy than live under the lash of fat despots. That’s who we are. And we are setting sail. We are sailing into ourselves, looking for America.

So I don’t think a corporate lawyer job is what you really want. I think it’s just a symbol of what you really want. The real search is harder. There is no application process. There are no internships.  Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are broad enough to encompass the dreams of any soul in the world. Somewhere in those few words is your dream. Go find it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

From MUSE: The world is just so exciting and stimulating right now

This post was also published on MUSE '13

I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings and I am and so I'm going to keep posting things that continue to make me as happy as kings made out of chocolate.  And maybe even in more than one place.

We all saw this, but can we really see it too often?  I wish I could have a dress made of words, or sheets on my bed.  I cannot help but feel them tangibly on my tongue and on my skin. Not that I lick my dresses, but you get the idea.  When I watch this, I feel like I'm dancing.

YouTube Video

Oh, my, do I love this

Also, here, cuz I reallllly like it.

From MUSE: All Hallows Read

For those of you who fail to read my status messages, and shame be upon you, here is the link to All Hallows Read.  They play it fast and loose with the apostrophe, so I'm going to go with this statement about the literacy or habits of Hallows.  They read.  All of them.

Go here.  Then give someone a scary book.  

Happy Hallowe'en! 

This post was also published on MUSE '13

Monday, October 10, 2011

From MUSE: T4SJ:2011: Youth Speaks

My morning workshop (good band name, heh.). Also, awesome.  Writing workshops you can use in your classroom.  My, ack, freewrites are in here because I thought it made it easier to understand the pidgin-y notes.

Youth Speaks

Life as a Primary Text
Voice. Identity. Power. Imagination.
Uncensored Youth Voice is the most important.
What is most urgent in their lives at the moment.

Arts Ed/Youth Development/Artistic presentation/Community Engagement
Youth Speaks is at the intersection of these four areas
Freirean based organiztion
Brave New Teachers - teacher development program
    you have to be brave about what they are going to say, they are going to challenge you, themselves, others

Framework: no wrong answers (things can be challenged, may be no right answers), and the standard is yourself (i.e., no need to follow traditional poetic forms)

still figuring
rene's daughter
up stander


      in mind
        the world
    the streets
    the page
      the soul
     the body
     San Francisco
        Dolores Park
        Adam's Point
         in my car looking for parking
      Crocker Highlands
   on my scooter
      on Clement Street
  my wife's arms
       with students
      in my kitchen
in hallways at schools
        room 209, room L1
         India, Africa, NYC
 on the soccer fields
        the stage
    dance floor
Cotopaxi Mountain
        Point Reyes
        Lavern Park
 the in-between
        balled up in bed


Why did we do what we just did
    space for sharing, brainstorm, thinking
    see connections, disconnections
    overcome writers block
    starting with yourself
        life as primary text
    palette of words
    takes away the fear of the blank page
        sometimes you have to start with these words
    conversation piece
    gets the mind warmed up - engaged
Started with live, then here, then I - so that we could get eventually to who you are as a person - scaffolding to who are you
    at each column, repeat, asking for answers: ‘what does it mean to live?’ ‘where do you live?’ ‘who are you?’ emphasis varying

“Columns + filling” used for lots of writing exercises
    creating word palette 
many different ways to move things forward - write about the column headings using the words, choose three words from a column, sentence starters, etc.

Young poets want to take on every topic in every poem
and they tend to talk in generalities

moving toward the infinite and the infinitesimal 
five boxes in upside-down pyramid
put e.g., a place right in the middle

my kitchen (middle box) - cooking dinner to celebrate nori's pregnancy, veal chops, pass through counter, takes too long, fava bean process, pomegranate soda for nori

boxes up and down as both time and scope of that story
two above, two below

one up - larger story of family - story of our wedding ceremony (d, n, j, k) - and of the rest of the family there

another up - that story is about community, beginnings, ceremony, deciding on principles of living

one down - we should be cooking dinners more - we don't anymore
missing family dinners and sitting down

two down - we sat down every night at the table to eat - dad falling down pretending to die whenever we had artichokes, sum and i laughing hysterically

encourages kids to have faith in their brain
your brain makes connections all the time
you don't have to force connections

FREE WRITE - no stopping writing at all for full 5 minutes. you cannot cross out, you must keep writing
you can change - but just like in oral you correct and keep going forward

either of two bottom boxes
write about that moment - you can bring in everything else (the larger ideas) along with the moment, but focus on the moment.

When I was a child, my family had dinner together every night.  It was a big deal.  Sometimes we had the tv on, but usually that just pissed my mom off. She hated having the tv on. my dad love d it and so did my sister and i.  There was a big spider plant that sat beneath the glass of our round bamboo-y table.  It was the early 80s people loved that shit.  We had artichokes a lot.  It is northern california after all. and they were one of my favorite foods, still are.  We played a lot at the table.  One game that happened every time we played i mean ate artichokes was that once we got down to the hearts, and my parents would help us scoop out the prickly choke to get down at that goodness, my dad would always - always - and if he didn't we would sneakily or so we thought tell him to by telling him not to. He would always put a part of the choke in his mouth, the fuzzy purple part. and pretend to choke, to fall out of his chair, and to die.  Liketysplit, he had two little girls out of their chair and on top of him.  Kissing him to life like in fairy tales, begging him daddy not to die.  And then he'd sit up, great big grizzly bear style and grab us. and we'd go back to dinner.  and we'd each eat the best, tenderest, morsel, like the pearl in the oyster, except more like the oyster, and then it was time for a bath.

everyone holds up and shows
then reading volunteers
look to see where the larger stories, larger themes are in the stories, how are they woven in?

The idea of this upside-down triangle framework
    all based in our own lives, no outside texts
    if we only have kids talking about the top level, their voices become muddled - they are just one of many voices saying the system sucks -- providing a counter narrative to what "the american people think" but providing their own, specific voices, own specific identities - clear, differentiated, honest stories -- not muddled or general

Telling our stories opens up a space for them to tell their stories
we must be open and honest, about our selves, about the things we don't know.

Youth Speaks comes into classroom, doesn't talk about the book you’re reading, specifically, does writing workshops around themes from that book - allows students to engage with the books, identify with themes in the book
changing dynamic from 1 book, 30 students --> 31 stories in conversation

taking the bus
how to get what you need
reading the world
emotional awareness
context awareness
recognizing hegemony
critical thinking
informed choice

who am i
who am i not
groups of people
what i eat
indigenous heritage
my feelings about myself
music, clothes
tradition, ritual, food
learning differences

Your identity at this moment in this place

At this moment, in this place, I am ….

A tangible object that someone can touch that can represent my identity … oh jesus.
a pen?

sherman alexie
poet, novelist, front man of all indian rock band (awesome!)

Has been attacked by older native american writers for taking about negative native American stereotypes
He says it's still there - doesn’t matter if we don’t like it, it’s part of the culture.

Drums as Love, Fear, and Prayer
Drums make everyone feel like an Indian
read out loud

Seven-ten minutes: write a poem with your cultural artifact as the central repeating thing
And also you must find a way to love yourself in the next seven minutes

I pick up my pen every day
Although I'm on an iPad
I pick it up and I hold it in front of me
In front of a blank page
And I hold it
And hold

I stare
For a while
I cannot twiddle this pen
I must hold the pen
Something will come
Or nothing will come
And there I am

I might be on the paper
The white paper
The black black slashes
Blood black
Night black
Black like ink on paper
The platonic ideal of black
On white paper

On empty page
And there I am

Pen still poised
Pen still poised
Staring back at myself in the blank white paper

I take my pen
I copy out poems from donne, for the play of it, from Snyder, because I'm feeling sensual with the trees and the bears, from books and books and books
And all these words
From my pen
And other words
And there I am on the page
There I am in the ink
There I am

The importnce of loving youraelf 

The use of the secondary text.  What was the point of it?
What did it do?
Model: What did it model?
   Use of repetition
   Other forms
   Number forms
It did not:
intimidate - instead it gave you a focus, a way of doing

Teen identities are so constructed in the media
We need to give them space to construct their own identities
We need fewer boxes
Expanding frames of reference
Examples and options for them to choose from, not a frame they have to follow
Primary thing: write your own stories

We chose our own stories, identities, cultural artifacts before we were given a model
Then given the space to write freely, to read and listen freely
   “What does that mean to you” is the extent of the questioning --We do not ask them to provide right answers about the meaning
Ts Eliot said that when he is done with a poem it is the reader's to do what he wants with, to make meaning of

You said this, but what do you mean by that
What did we mean by I live here

The frameworks get the conversation going, the palette of words that are developed changes moment by moment

Whiteboard as a place for exchange, rather than directives
The whiteboard is the focus point of the classroom

Sharing is to affirm the idea
Spelling comes later
Start with the affirmation, start with the individual as the standard. Anything goes.  You might be challenged for your ideas but you are not. Wrong.

This post was also published on MUSE '13