Monday, September 28, 2009

funder and lightning

This is probably my most original blog title yet. Especially since in New Orleans the weather is so often so stormy.

Wow, Blogosphere! It's been a long while since we've talked, yet again. Remember a year ago? I was such a good correspondent back then, while I was trying to get my fun back on track. Now I am a little less concerned with being a fun person, and more concerned with being a sane and rational one, which means it's been quite a long time since I've done any beautiful exploring or learning about this amazing city I find myself in. It's okay, though: I have time.

The weekend was nice and long. I just spent ten minutes going back in my brain trying to think of events that I could brag about this weekend, but I couldn't come up with any. Ariana and I went to the Art Museum and looked at the beautiful photographs. I broke off on my own and walked through the lonely rooms upstairs no one ever goes in because they are full of permanent collections of Chinese, Japanese, African, and Native American art that people dismiss as generic ("I could see that stuff ANYwhere," they say). I do have my hesitations about those rooms, of course. It's not really fair for museums to have those beautiful artifacts locked away in glass cases like that. They don't belong to us. When I look at the gorgeous craftsmanship of a mask or a vase or something, I feel like I am in the presence of something sacred that is being totally exploited. I tried to walk through the rooms as appreciatively as possible. I do love the Japanese brush scrolls a great deal. They remind me of my mother.

And I was riding my bike on another beautiful sunny day in the Quarter and ran into Lily and Jazzy and their friend Tah, whom I have not seen in aaaaages, and they shouted, "Sophie!" and I shouted, "Lily and Jazzy and Tah!" and they were sitting outside Port of Call, which is this famous burger place that always has bookoo people outside it. They were like, "Hey, we're going to go to Port of Call, do you want to come?" and in my head I was like, "No I have way too much work." And then in my head I was like, "Whatever! I don't have that much work! I have never BEEN to Port of Call!" So in real life I said, "Yes, I would love to." And then I joined them for lunch and ate a baked potato with chives and had an iced tea. I have this to say about Port of Call: the burgers cost a lot of money, but they did look really pretty. I have no idea how to judge a good burger. I do have an idea of how to judge "Good Burger," starring Keenan and Kel from Nickelodeon. And I judge it like this: A+.

But it was nice to laugh and to talk about not-school stuff. Examples of not-school topics that happen when you are with non-teachers (Tah is technically teacher, but she's a cool teacher who can talk about hauntings):
1. Pooping.
2. Spirit animals.
3. Sam Alden yesterday said, "Hey Sophie, I have found a word in the dictionary you maybe don't know. And the word is 'pinguid.'" And I said, "I have not heard that word before. What does it mean?" And he said, "Fat and oily." So I mentioned this to Tah and Jazzy and Lily, and we talked for probably forty-five minutes about 'pinguid.' Subtopics: Can pinguid ever be a positive thing? Would you like to eat a pinguid sausage? Was the guy one of them hooked up with last night pinguid? All valid questions.
4. Tulane.

School, to completely change the topic, is wonderful. Today we don't have students because we are doing data work, and I thought last night for a great deal of time about how much I miss them, and how sad I am that I don't get to see them today. They teach me so much every day. I can't believe we are already at the midterm assessments.

My students are very receptive to learning about history -- especially about African American history. The thing is that they often say things that are truly depressing without ever realizing it. When I read a story to them last week about Martin Luther King, Jr., there was a section in the book that talked about how Martin Luther King, Jr. fought to desegregate the schools, and my students were genuinely puzzled. At lunch Melissa said, "Ms. Johnson, black kids and white kids can't really go to school together, can they?" Apparently the vast majority of my class thinks it's actually still illegal for classrooms to be racially integrated.

But on a happier note, our table groups are named Rosa Parks, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King Jr., and Mahatma Gandhi; and our 2nd grade class is completely fascinated with Gandhi. There has possible never been a group of 2nd-graders more obsessed with Gandhi. There are almost no books available for children about Mahatma Gandhi, but Carrie and I both have a copy of the same one -- a dense, boring, dully-illustrated book more suitable for high schoolers than seven-year-olds. My kids daily insist that I read them a few pages from it, and they listen in absolute fascination to theories about karma, and to the stories of Gandhi's life. They can find India on a map.

My students are so unbelievably curious and open-minded. They are ready to learn and they are eager to access information. They hug each other and take care of each other when they think no one else is watching. They don't sweat the small stuff. They draw beautiful pictures and see the world in shades of pink and orange and bright blue and green (I assume, based on the color palate they choose for their art samples). They aren't afraid of school yet. They beg for homework. At what point do we get beaten down enough that we start to pull away from life? I promise you it happens sometime AFTER the age of seven.

We have two great class pets. I tried to take videos of each. One cut off within one second of video taping. The other is the most boring class pet video ever. I tried to wake Chico up but he just tensed up and hissed at me. Enjoy these boring videos. Know that if you were to come visit, you would have a lot more fun with our class pets than these videos immediately suggest.


JamesH said...

Three thoughts upon reading your post:

1) I love when you talk about your students. You are what every teacher should be- caring, creative, and committed. Also, all of these words start with the letter "C," so if you ever had to find all of them in the dictionary in a short amount of time, it would be relatively easy.

2) I wish every second grader had you as a teacher, though this would be a classroom management nightmare. You're incredible.

3) Finally, in response to this blog post, it makes me happy when you are happy. You sound happy in this post. Like you are having funder and lightning.

JamesH said...

Also, one more thing. It's interesting what you say about the exploitation of certain kinds of art in museums. The other day I went to the Tate Modern here in London and there was a piece where an artist would turn African tribal masks around so all you could see was the back of them, in an effort to highlight how when we display these sacred pieces in our museums we are only aware of the presence of the mask, rather than the absence of the person wearing it.

alexis said...

james left very insightful comments! here is what i have to say:

1. a class hedgehog is almost as cool as class monkeys/iguanas/poisonous snakes. it's pretty cool. i want one.
2. you are perfect just like a freshly squeezed baked potato.

Loretta said...

Dearest Angel: It has only been in the last few hours that I learned how to post. And I also cannot believe that I have not read every blog the minute they came out. Thank you for all the compliments all the way through, and I do believe that when you were thinking about Teach for America, when you were breaking the barrier bringing veganism to The Nation as an intern there three summers ago and Vandersomething or someone said TFA would be your book and you are there now writing your book, I believe your book now is your children. You write in them everyday and they will be your books, sources of knowledge and love in their own lives. I love you.