I've always believed that art and science are intertwined--that they bleed into one another, that they give one another life. This clip, from the TED Conference "Note and Neurons" mostly shows off the power of music and the power of the crowd--and it is amazing. The conference goes on to talk about different sciences that can help explain why we love music and how music functions.
When I was a kid, my parents put me in piano class. And it's one of the greatest regrets of my life to not have tried during that point in my life. I really, really wanted to play the violin--so I sat in piano class and let my mind wander off, instead of paying attention. Now, I'm an adult, and a singer-songwriter--and I really, really wish I could sight read better than I can.
This video reminds of the power of music and how much music inspires me and my life. Perhaps I'll teach myself how to sight read.
It takes a lot to really annoy me or really make me angry. A lot of people wonder how I let so many things slide. There's a David Foster Wallace commencement speech entitled This is Water that I'd like to discuss in conjunction with the above quotes. I truly believe that emotions are a choice--that every moment, I can choose to be happy or I can choose to be sad. I can't always pick my situations, but I can always pick how I react to them. David Foster Wallace discusses the "default setting"--that way that we react that seems natural, that is the impulse. With control, I can switch that default setting to manual. I can decide, when my coffee order is wrong, that it's a chance to try a new flavor! I can decide, when I have to drive the hour down to visit my parents, that the hour is a time for my imagination to wander into different worlds. I can decide, when I hear students cursing, that it is a chance for me to teach kind language. This all goes with the above message--I CAN choose to look at things through eyes that seek beauty and wonder. And I should, because I've got a lot of beautiful, wonderful things to look at.
John Steinbeck is one of my favorite authors. My first year of teaching, I taught 11th grade American Literature--the highlight of my year was teaching Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. This Steinbeck quote speaks to me--particularly the high school me... even if high school me didn't listen.
When I was in high school, I was constantly focused on being perfect. When I got to college, I started to realize how impossible this was. Don't get me wrong: I think that aiming for perfection in high school was a good thing. It set me up to have an easy academic transition into college--school was easy for me in college because I had worked so hard at it throughout grade school and high school.
There was a point in college, however, when I was taking 25 units (for context, I had to petition to take 25 units and get approval from professors to take on such a large course load), working 4 jobs, and doing theatre. I was so focused on being perfect--on leading things, getting As, getting ahead--that things started to slip. I had spread myself so thin, that instead of being good at the things I was doing, I was getting mediocre at them.
I take this quote another way too: Be good to people. It's so important to just be good to one another.
When I told my friends that my students were going to build a To Kill a Mockingbird theme park with functioning roller coasters while studying literature from the Civil Rights movement inside a project integrating Literature, World Cultures, World Geography and Physics, most of them laughed. I recently pitched the idea to a couple of students for a project that studies world literature--final product being a food truck thematically designed accordingly that is brought to a homeless shelter. There are things I think of that I like to think are imaginative and creative. I like to foster the child inside me--I really think it makes me a better teacher.
It's interesting when you can point to one person as the reason why you know what love is. When I tried to think of that one person, it's true that a specific face came to mind. However, the more and more I think about it, the more I come to the conclusion that I have found love in so many places, in so many people. Every day, I find some new spark in a student, I find someone on the train that I get along with, I pass someone on my bike who smiles at me. Even the smallest interactions with people teach me really big lessons about love.
"Your organization and I are not in agreement in our political and economic views," Samuel Leibowitz wrote the ILD, but he would take the case to "defend the basic rights of man."
This is an excerpt from an informational packet about the Scottsboro Boys. In this trial, 9 black boys were accused of assault by 2 white females. Ultimately, all 9 boys are convicted in one way or another. This quote really moves me because of how similar it is to something Atticus Finch would say in To Kill a Mockingbird. It moves me even moreso because Samuel Leibowitz was a real guy-a real-life, really good lawyer, who took this case out of a protection of the sheer humanity of these men. He, like Atticus, knew that he would lose.
There are a lot of things that I attempt to do in my life that I likely won't succeed at in a short amount of time. I spent two years in the south trying to fight the achievement gap, and I spent years trying to make theatre the cool kid thing to do. Like these men, I begin the tasks anyway, even knowing that I'll lose... because like Atticus and Samuel--it has to
I actually saw this picture over Dominic Dudley's shoulder today as he was working on HIS moral compass. It struck me for a multitude of different reasons, but the biggest way it struck me was because it reminds me of my good friend and former teaching partner Miriam Kaplan. I'm a pretty happy person. I sing in my head 24/7, I like to snack, and I can spend hours lost inside a good book. I love musical theatre, I love a warm cup of coffee (current favorite- pumpkin spice lattes in soy milk with no whipped cream from Starbucks), I love kittens. I grew up with a lot of love, and I do my best to emanate the same type of love, the same type of kindness into the world. When Miriam and I were working together, we were teaching an integrated Civics/Literature course, and her lectures taught me that sometimes, there are things to be unhappy about. Sometimes, there is injustice in the world. Sometimes, we are called to fight that injustice. It didn't change my demeanor-I'm still a rather happy person with the same quirks. It did give me a different pair of glasses to look at the world through--for that, I'm grateful.
It is 11pm at night. And I've got a few things left on my to do list. Sometimes, I find myself up late at night, just thinking. I worked on graduate school work tonight, and the thinking got my mind turning so much that I can't sleep. This happens pretty often, and while I love sleep, I also love being inside my head and analyzing the world around me.
Every year, I make goals for myself, and like the nerd I am, I grade myself on these goals every day. This year, these are the rows on my life rubric: 1. Be Kind to My Body, 2. Learn a Lot, 3. Build and Sustain Relationships with Other People, 4. Be Funnier.
I've been trying pretty hard to be funnier. I've been reading books written by comedians. I grew up on Nick at Nite so I had some late-nighters with Lucille Ball. This quote lines up nicely with my daily life rubric--I want to be a better person b
I've had a recent obsession with the show New Girl because I weirdly identify with the strange, quirky character of Ms. Jess Day, the main character. First of all, her outfits are always simply on point. I have gravitated toward good aesthetics for most of my life, and I find that the simplest way for me to practice this every day is through dress. Second of all, she is really strange, especially when it comes to conversation. There are tons of awkward moments where Jess says odd things and makes the people around her pretty uncomfortable. I always find myself singing out loud to myself, and I always find myself pointing out odd things I notice, and I've definitely instigated weird pauses in conversations with friends. The third thing, and the most meaningful is the fact that I identify with her teaching practice. In an episode I watched yesterday, Bells, she yells at a friend she brings in to teach her kids because he is mean to them. She talks about how it is her job to make sure that students never feel given up on. It's part of my daily practice as well.