29 September 2007

Value scale of colored pillows

taken with Kodak EasyShare CX7430, cropped in Photoshop Elements 2

Suddenly one room seems too small

tempera (water color pigment mixed with egg yolk as a binder) on 90 lb. paper

Blue kimono

Wearing a blue kimono
Seated in comfort
The blue & white cotton
Against tanned, bare skin
At ease at home
Half drowsy & ready to nap
Watching senseless movies rerun
On cable channels
Rather than pay another $8
For a movie theater seat
Or $8 more
For a Coke™ & a small box of Raisinets™
That make you feel guilty twice
For the calories & the price
Instead there's a martini waiting
As many olives as you like
Queen-sized for a queen
Approaching mid-life
Already past the crisis
Sitting at home on a Saturday
Watching senseless movies
Wearing a blue & white kimono
Taking time for a weekend riposa
& a moment to pet the dog
That munches on a rubber toy
Trying to get the Iams™ biscuit inside

23 September 2007

Multiculturalism in North Coweta

In Georgia, part of the historic Deep South, home of the capital of the Confederacy, there may not seem to be a place for multiculturalism. However, that is far from an accurate description of the quality of education in Georgia. Northgate High in Coweta County is a young school burgeoning with programs that allow students to examine and explore other cultures. Some examples include reading literature and creating visual-verbal documents that reflect the experiences of African-Americans and Holocaust survivors. Others include making Southeast Asian-style shadow puppets in drama classes. Don't forget making cascarones, piñatas, and Day of the Dead altars in Spanish classes. Music videos for le rap beur and le pop français are a popular project in French classes. Still, these are only beginnings, and as the school matures and expands, more will be necessary to bridge divides within the school’s own culture and to prepare future alumni for the world outside.

Since the school came into being little more than a decade ago, its population base has changed dramatically from a basically White, semi-rural middle and working classes to a suburban one that encompasses students from a variety of ethnic, economic and social and political backgrounds. At times, among the students there is evidence of cultural misunderstanding. One setting that brings a large portion of theses diverse students together in a new cultural setting is the world language classroom. At Northgate, students have the option of studying Spanish or French if they pursue a college preparatory diploma. This year, about 1000 students at Northgate participate in world language classes where they have multiple opportunities to compare hispanophone and francophone cultures to their own. Theses classes have long been the place where students come to correct cultural misconceptions, and all of the teachers in the department help students recreate authentic moments for themselves. Not all are successful, and some are hackneyed, but students come to appreciate the experience and many take advanced level courses to continue their studies and to gain skills that will better prepare them for a global marketplace.

Beyond the classroom, students can participate in a variety of different clubs, but a popular one with more than 50 members is the International Club or iClub. In its inception, iClub was little more than a combination of the French and Spanish clubs. But in only six years of existence it has grown from a few kids who occasionally met for eating taquitos and dancing to salsa music to a good-sized group of motivated students that participate in school-wide events like homecoming and that sponsor three other happenings to raise cultural awareness in the community at large. These get-togethers include the International Banquet to which students bring home cooked meals following authentic recipes from around the globe to share and experience together. Second is the Chinese New Year celebration that invites parents, students and teachers to enjoy culturally authentic foods beyond the take-out menu and to appreciate the symbolism and richness found in Asian-American culture. Lastly there is an International Film Festival that each year brings first hand voices from other countries to tell stories to our students in a way they might not seek out on their own or find readily offered in local movie theaters.

There's always room for growth, for more acceptance, diversity and tolerance. However, it shouldn't surprise that a seedling of multiculturalism can prosper in a little corner of the South. I'm glad to nurture it.

16 September 2007

Teaching tests you

As a teacher, I find that I must always keep my skills honed. For French, I read newspapers and books, listen to podcasts, watch films, and practice speaking, listening and writing in that language. Not having regular francophone interlocutors, I have to do most of it on my own, and at times, I'm certain that I'm forming linguistic habits that will be hard to correct once I learn that they're questionable. For art, mostly I draw. I prefer to draw rather than to paint or to use other art forms. When I do work with photography, I prefer to manipulate color digitally rather that to find the perfect scene to photograph. When I do paint, I find myself slathering color more deeply than the medium I prefer would allow; watercolor likes to be applied in a single smooth layer, not like impasto as with oil or tempera or acrylic. I guess that changing my medium is in order. Now, what I really need is an office/library/studio where I can work, leave work unfinished and come and go as I please without having to put everything in its place each time I leave or enter the room.

08 September 2007

Optimisim or pessimism

When you teach, you look forward to the good days with a class. Those days where everyone stays on task, where the collective accepts your guidance and behaves as if they believe that you know what you're talking about. My art class has perhaps turned a corner. This past Friday was much less of a struggle as a leader for these young people. It seemed finally that I've hit upon a way to interact with them that lets them look toward working together and toward creating art, rather than simply trying to keep me from giving them any kind of instruction at all.

The project at hand is creating a panel of rock art in the style of an ancient "cave" culture: Native American, Australian Aboriginal or Proto-European. All four groups chose Native American for their theme, and then they were quite surprised that there would be research and cultural considerations to include in their art and storytelling.

What bothered me personally was that it seemed to me that the class itself behaved only because one student, the "why do we have to learn this, and how can you make us read and write and think about math for art?" student was absent.

Nevertheless, I do believe that the end product for this project will be good, and it will be worthy of display for the school at large. I hope I can find a nice place to put it up, and that students will appreciate having their work visible to the whole student body.

06 September 2007

An awkward invitation

A senior invited me to come to Dubai this summer after graduation...to New York, too, to catch a Broadway show.

05 September 2007

Martini free-writing

Feeling the buzz of an after work martini
I write this entry
wondering where it will go
lamenting the time I didn't leave
to get the grades averaged
to get the homework checked
to update the grade book
to relax
to play with my dog
to talk to my children
to update this blog
to smile
to be nice
to enjoy myself
to talk to my children and tell them I love them
to talk with my boyfriend
to make a delicious dinner
to ask my mom if the goldfish survived
to ask my sister if the present wasn't too outrageous
to tell my boyfriend I love him
to get to work and get my job done