Etta James has died at the age of 73.huffpo
The legendary "At Last" singer died from complications from leukemia; she also suffered from dementia and hepatitis C.
“This is a tremendous loss for the family, her friends and fans around the world,” her Lupe De Leon said in a statement. “She was a true original who could sing it all – her music defied category.”
I saw Etta James with the Grateful Dead during the New Year's run in
Hard To Handle W/ The Grateful Dead
Etta's Notes from the show
This Brazen Teacher is one of my favorite bloggers. She'd be one of yours, too, if you just read her stuff. Here is her latest:
An article posted on the Times website yesterday was entitled:
The Value of Teachers.
I’ve been mistaken in life, (and on this blog) more often than I care to admit– yet I’m relatively certain society has a rough time understanding the value of a teacher.
I say “value” in the capitalist sense. Clearly teachers are valued in a philosophical context… like valuing unicorns or rainbows. The idea of loving them is so… wholesome. We love them during happy hour conversations and TED talks, in campaign speeches, and Hallmark movies. When Taylor Mali’s poetry slam “What Teachers Make” went viral… one couldn’t help wonder: “Who is the a-hole that would call out a teacher at a dinner party?”
***Lauding teachers as valuable is surely a popular sentiment, but seems limited to banal platitudes found on coffee mugs and picture frames:
“TEACHERS SHAPE YOUNG MINDS!”
“TEACHERS BRING DREAMS TO LIFE!”
“IF YOU CAN READ THIS, THANK A TEACHER!”
Malcolm Gladwell wrote about this struggle to define teacher value in his New Yorker article “Most Likely to Succeed.” The article compared pro-football and public education, through a phenomena coined the ‘Quarterback Problem.’
The name originated when football coaches discovered a quarterback’s college performance was often a poor indicator of success in the pros. Players were going from “superstardom” to “nothing” so quickly and so often, it left coaches perplexed. How could guys with so much potential fizzle almost overnight?
According to Gladwell’s article, education has a quarterback problem as well. Success in college or fluency in good pedagogy and technique does not a good teacher make. Teachers who look and sound suave; get in front of a group of six year olds and choke.
No wonder we limit expressions of teacher value to pastel colored slogans about “planting seeds, and watering fruit.”
Let’s be honest, we are exceptional at measuring good technique, knowledge, and skill. No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, baby! Our society rocks it out with the data and measurements. We are information machines, but there is a problem with grasping the measuring stick too tight.
Helen Keller said:
“The best things in life can’t be seen or touched, but are felt with the heart.”
The best teachers are not merely saying and doing things backed by empirically based research, and ideologically sound platforms.
Good teachers are “Real” in their hearts.
Well thanks… THANKS for that.
W T H is “Real?”
Am I the Velveteen Rabbit?
***Yesterday walking from Bouldin Creek Cafe back to her car, my friend Kris said:
“I love how with some people, even if we do inconsequential things together like eat dinner or hang out in silence, I feel better just being in their space.”
“Real Teachers” do this.
When a student is in the presence of a “Real Teacher” they feel a desire to be around that teacher, with few or no words being exchanged.
Ralph Waldo Emerson talked about this when he said:
“Who you are screams so loudly, I cannot hear what you say to the contrary.”
“Real Teachers” communicate more with who they are, than they do with technique, lesson plans, or materials.
***In a biography entitled “Last American Man,” Elizabeth Gilbert writes about Eustace Conway– a man who lives outside modern society in an entirely self-sustaining way. He survives completely off the natural world… think making your clothes from animal skins, and hunting your own food… rather than shopping at Whole Foods. The entire book is incredibly engaging, but the teacher in me loved Gilbert’s description of Eustace talking to high school students the most.
From the moment Eustace stepped onstage front of a large, loud group of teens… before he said one word… they quieted themselves. She watched astounded as his energy alone was enough to command total respect and attention. As he talked, they moved to the edges of their seats, when he was excited they were excited, and when he was somber, they grew serious. At the end they cheered, and begged for more time… burgeoning with questions and energy.
At the conclusion of the evening Gilbert asked Eustace:
“Hey about what happened tonight. Do you get that kind of response everywhere you speak?”
“From all age groups; from all backgrounds?”
I thought this over.
“So tell me specifically. Why do you think these particular teenagers were so hypnotized by you tonight?”
Eustace’s reply was so immediate, so uncompromising, and so coldly delivered that it sent a quick chill right through me.
“Because,” he said, “they recognized right away that I was a real person. And they’ve probably never met one before.”
***One of my “Real Teachers” was Mr. Patten.
It was last class of the day– eighth period. I viewed it separate from the other seven periods– a reward for surviving the day. A dozen or so 13 year olds would file into his faded classroom– the only thing on one yellowing wall was a poster of the Gettysburg address and a clock– his desk was empty but for a grade book and briefcase. His lessons were as sparse as his classroom– there was little evidence of planning. No group activities. No projects. No interactive or interdisciplinary elements. No arts and crafts, books, or bulletin boards.
Instead he would pass out twenty page packets of dates and events to follow while he lectured. Indeed that’s what his classes were– all lecture. Our grades were entirely calculated from long, rigorous essay tests.
Singular modes of assessment, packets of rote information and lecture for consumption is a blasphemy in pedagogical circles. Advocates of “best practice” would have cringed.
That is– until they sat in on one of his classes.
When Mr. Patten lectured it was as if the whole world stopped. For forty minutes each day, I lost myself into past worlds… worlds he unlocked with tales of battle, heartache and struggle. He blew our tiny worlds open with those lectures… yet paradoxically it was not the lectures. I had plenty of teachers who lectured me to sleep.
Even in all my junior high naivety, I knew Mr. Patten was not like other adults. He didn’t talk at us, but to us. He was alive with an excitement that was natural and authentic. He was never afraid to be eccentric or odd. When he was angry, the sheer disappointment and darkness in his voice was enough to silence the most obstinate student.
His room was one of the few places in school I felt safe. The dangerous, judgmental, competitive culture of teenage strife was left outside– people I never talked to, and who never talked to me– magically became friends once we passed through his doors. He didn’t have rules explaining this on the wall. He did not explicitly state how we should treat each other. We just knew.
These explanations are vague, and they should be.
I cannot tell you what he did so you might understand how to replicate it. What he did has been repeated by hundreds of teachers unsuccessfully.
He retired a few years ago, and has a fan page on Facebook set up by two former students. When you read the wall posts it’s astounding what is repeated over and over in a myriad of ways:
“Mr Patten was the best teacher I ever had.”
***During the orientation for new teachers in Stow, Ohio- 2005… the High School football coach entered the library to give us a welcome speech. His advice was some of the most formative in my career.
Let me tell you what kids will ALWAYS notice.
Kids have radar for things that are invisible.
They know when you love them. They know if you want to be there. They know when you love yourself. They know when you love your subject. You can’t fake kids. My best advice is to work on loving yourself. Kids learn a lot from teachers like that.”
***The points in this post are not exhaustive. I do not mean to suggest a teacher that loves his or her students always equals a good teacher. I do not mean to suggest that if a child begins hating a subject, it’s the teacher’s fault. What I do mean to suggest… what I am confident to suggest, is that:
“What we teach is not separate from who we are.”
Teachers who understand this are the most “Real.”
Teachers who understand this do more than transmit ideas and build skills, they touch hearts, ignite fires, and heal wounds.
And no, there’s no assessment tool for that kind of value.
The Frustrated Teacher will be going dark on the 18th to oppose SOPA. If you run a website or blog, this snippet of code may be just what you need. It will redirect your blog, and that will look like this.
Now read Boing Boing:
Now read Boing Boing:
On January 18, Boing Boing will join Reddit and other sites around the Internet in "going dark" to oppose SOPA and PIPA, the pending US legislation that creates a punishing Internet censorship regime and exports it to the rest of the world. Boing Boing could never co-exist with a SOPA world: we could not ever link to another website unless we were sure that no links to anything that infringes copyright appeared on that site. So in order to link to a URL on LiveJournal or WordPress or Twitter or Blogspot, we'd have to first confirm that no one had ever made an infringing link, anywhere on that site. Making one link would require checking millions (even tens of millions) of pages, just to be sure that we weren't in some way impinging on the ability of five Hollywood studios, four multinational record labels, and six global publishers to maximize their profits.
If we failed to take this precaution, our finances could be frozen, our ad broker forced to pull ads from our site, and depending on which version of the bill goes to the vote, our domains confiscated, and, because our server is in Canada, our IP address would be added to a US-wide blacklist that every ISP in the country would be required to censor.
This is the part of the post where I'm supposed to say something reasonable like, "Everyone agrees that piracy is wrong, but this is the wrong way to fight it."
But you know what? Screw that.
Even though a substantial portion of my living comes from the entertainment industry, I don't think that any amount of "piracy" justifies this kind of depraved indifference to the consequences of one's actions. Big Content haven't just declared war on Boing Boing and Reddit and the rest of the "fun" Internet: they've declared war on every person who uses the net to publicize police brutality, every oppressed person in the Arab Spring who used the net to organize protests and publicize the blood spilled by their oppressors, every abused kid who used the net to reveal her father as a brutalizer of children, every gay kid who used the net to discover that life is worth living despite the torment she's experiencing, every grassroots political campaigner who uses the net to make her community a better place -- as well as the scientists who collaborate online, the rescue workers who coordinate online, the makers who trade tips online, the people with rare diseases who support each other online, and the independent creators who use the Internet to earn their livings.
The contempt for human rights on display with SOPA and PIPA is more than foolish. Foolishness can be excused. It's more than greed. Greed is only to be expected. It is evil, and it must be fought.
SOPA Strike is compiling a list of sites that are also going dark for Jan 18. If you want an Internet where human rights, free speech and the rule of law are not subordinated to the entertainment industry's profits, I hope you'll join us on it.