Monday, January 28, 2019

Red Yellow Black And White

For the MLK holiday weekend, I was invited to see my friend's daughter in a step show. I eagerly looked forward to it, as visions of 80s Greek picnics danced in my head. The raw energy and sensuality of alpha males and females stomping on the yard was coming to a venue near me! Never mind that these were K-12 kids coming to honor and celebrate MLK. Never mind that this was a school function. Never mind that as a teacher, somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I'm sure I had a clear picture of the scope and sequence of the performance expectations. In my mind, this step show was going to superimpose itself onto my memories and transport me back to my college days.  For me, that time was after fireside chats and long before anyone dreamt that someone who looked like Barack Obama would become #44. MLK day had yet to be celebrated as a holiday and #metoo was only expressed in silent tears. The phrases "white privilege" and "implicit bias" had yet to coined, as had "growth mindset" and the belief that every child can learn. Fortunately, society--and classrooms-- have seen some changes.

Turns out, step show culture has seen some changes as well. My memories scooched over and made room for golden character shoes, diverse cultural and gender backgrounds, canned music,  dramatic interpretation, and well designed sets and backdrops. 

Fireside chats were a minute ago, so many of these things may already be the norm. And while I won't go into what year found me at my last step show, I will go into bias: Any time a memory has to "make room" for a new or changing status quo, the weeds of rose colored bias probably still need to be rooted out. 

As I sat and gleefully applauded the hard work and amazing craftsmanship of each team,  I kept thinking, "Oh, I don't remember that, that's new", which means, somehow, I was judge, not just spectator. I enjoyed the show immensely. My own "performance" however, left me a bit perturbed, and, if I am honest, disappointed. I am inclusive, open-minded, grounded in my own beliefs but stopping WAY short of insisting that others live by them. I am, really inclusive, right? Or does my traditional Christian upbringing make me more judgmental? Does my African-American cultural background make me too quick to see cultural appropriation over cultural appreciation? Does my status as a cisgender, Gen X female give me an inborn perspective that I cannot see beyond? Finally and more importantly, if and when I find biases, do I make sure to stomp them out so that I can greet all of my students--all people--with acceptance and human kindness? 

If you have not asked yourself any of these questions, you probably have some unearthed bias to deal with. Harvard's Implicit Bias Project is a great place to start. The "white privilege" mindset is not reserved for whites only. We all learn perspective and bias, it's human and normal. Perspective has its place, bias does not. We should challenge ourselves to move beyond it, and as educators, it is imperative that we do. 

It turns out that I liked gold character shoes, the poetic odes and skits, and all the other shiny new spins I saw. The essence was there, and the MLK holiday step show did remind me of my own time on the yard, back in the day. More importantly, it reminded me that I, like this country, have come along way, but still have a long way to go.


Monday, November 2, 2015

Seasons Change

As you know, there have ben a lot of things in the air. Some balls have dropped, some are still spinning mid-air. One thing's for sure: THIS season is coming to a championship ending! I played hard, had a lot of wins and I can almost see the view from the mountain top! As with all games, there is a lag time between the season's end and the championship game. I'm still waiting on that one and when it gets here, I'll tell ya aaaaallllll about it. Meanwhile, time to enjoy fall's color concerto. To get you started, here's my all-time favorite autumn picture.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Hard Knock Life

There are some times in life when it's full court press time. For those non-sports fans, that's the time when it's down to the wire in a basketball game and everybody is working overtime to win. Well, basketball ain't the only place where games need be be won. Life is one big ole playing field and if you're in it to win it, sometimes sleep, home cooking and the gym take a back burner because the business of winning the game requires nothing less than full concentration and overtime.  It's those times when you ignore the longing for a shower and massage and get your head completely in the game. Those moments feel like hard times. But, when it's all over, the final release is oh so sweet. When you shoot your best shot and watch that ball arch, wondering--no, knowing--no, hoping--no, praying-- that it will drop just right, it's an amazing, scary, awesome, scary, powerful, scary feeling. And that hard knock life? Well it turns into...Come back next month. I'm still waiting on the buzzer so cheer me on!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Love is an Open Door

Working with the under 10 set has helped me to see that there are still major lessons to be learned from Disney's blockbuster Frozen. And seeing some of the nastiness of the social media offerings over the last couple of weeks leaves me no alternative but to remember out loud what my Grandmother taught me, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all". I'm sure there are grandkids all over the country who were taught the same thing. So why have so many of us forgotten?! At the risk of sounding pious: social media musings cloaked in semi-anonymity are not exempt from this rule.

There was a song from Sting a few cold war moons ago in which the recurring line told of the Russians loving their children too.  He continued with, "we share the same biology regardless of ideology".  Sting's not from the US but it would seem his grandma taught him that we can agree to disagree-- in peace. Love really is an open door that we can choose to walk through when we eschew hateful rants and remarks. Kindness leaves bridges in tact no matter what our beliefs, and choosing love over hate makes us all winners every time. Without that door we are walled up behind our ideologies and ideals lofty or base, depending on who's rating. Not hate or bitterness but Love
is an open door.

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Friday, June 5, 2015

Easy As ABC

Sometimes it's not the big stages, the sold out concert halls or the Baroque churches. Sometimes it's watching young Mr. Landin play "Watermelon Man" on his first gig with a live band or watching "Uncle Sonny" sing "My Girl" for the first time in 40 years. It's singing Gladys' "I got ta go' in harmony with Miss Lynn and playing MD with your Sunday morning band doing Saturday night music. And sometimes it's watching the mantel pass as your son sings the Jackson 5 hits of the Michael Jackson we 70's kids remember from our childhood. Sometimes it's easy as ABC and Music doesn't get any better than that!

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