Saturday, October 10, 2009

“Climb Ev’ry Mountain” or Guilt- Ridden Confessions

There are many aspects of my own sense of identity that I shield off from others when I teach. There are components of my preferences that I tend not to divulge. However, try as I might, there seems to be one that always comes out to all:
One of my favorite films of all time is The Sound of Music.

I have sought professional help, but to no avail. I have made peace with my predicament and my condition.

For all my bluster and intensity, I tear up each time I hear Captain Von Trapp sing “Edelweiss” as an elegy to a time and country that has long since passed him as the spectre of Fascism looms. I cannot help but get chills when I see the opening credits of the Alps and the majestic nature of Europe. Indeed, I have been noted on occasion, during basketball games that are not going well, or in the midst of a challenging moment in the classroom to begin humming “Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens/ Bright coppered kettles and warm woolen mittens.”

As I said, it is a condition that I no longer try to remedy, but one with which peace has been made.

Without a doubt, the part of the film that holds the most amount of endearment to me would be when Maria seeks the wise counsel of the Mother Abbess about how to rectify the challenge between her sense of duty and her feelings of desire. Mother Abbess, in her eternal sense of understanding, sings the song “Climb Ev’ry Mountain.” The way she belts out the song and the manner in which the song articulates how one should receive the issue of challenge has always remained with me. Over time, I have come to see my teaching as a pedagogical representation of this moment between Mother Abbess and Maria.

Over the next two weeks, all of the students on 7.8/3 will have to “Climb Ev’ry Mountain.” Seventh graders are learning how to “ford every stream” as they navigate through the harrowing terrain of learning styles and differentiation of how one learns. At the same time, they are balancing the demands of preparing themselves for the first exam on chapter 5. It has been really quite enlightening to start to sense student examination of styles of learning and modes of recognition within themselves and others. I sense that students have been progressing quite well in attempting to distill how learning happens and how they, themselves, appropriate knowledge. We will have to start applying this in terms of our work in American History as we begin our first assessment in this mode, the Chapter 5 Task Rotation Assessment. This means that 7th grade students will be balancing three demands in the short term: Continuing their analysis in the domain of learning styles, understanding how this relates to chapter 5 in the Task Rotation Assessment, and ensuring that all has been understood in the chapter 5 multiple choice assessment (To take place on Tuesday and Wednesday, 10/20 and 10/21).

“’Till you find your dreams.”

In the prelude to the song of which I have nothing but the deepest of affinity, Maria approaches the Mother Abbess in a time of absolute need and in a sense of dire emotional connection. This is probably where many of our 8th graders are in terms of their Constitution Exam. Scheduled for 10/22 and 10/23, the exam is rapidly approaching. Students should begin the process of studying for the exam, if they not have already done so. A letter has been sent home explaining the format of the exam, what constitutes “passing” the exam, and how it will be calculated into the class grade. At the same time, study sessions are available Tuesday and Thursday mornings, as well as Wednesday during lunch. Students are also encouraged to meet with me individually for additional help. I hope that students are harnessing their energies in the production of their best work for this exam. The essay prompts are going to be sent home on Wednesday of this week so students can spend time preparing them in advance of the exam. Students will be working on additional writing for the Constitution this week during class with small group seminars being the norm. After six to seven weeks of preparation, students are being asked to shoulder the responsibility of this task on their broad shoulders. In the final analysis, when Mother Abbess tells Maria to progress on until “You find your dream,” she might have been speaking to our 8th grade students.

While both groups are at different points in their education and Julian careers, the time -tested truth of the Rodgers and Hammerstein metaphor is a powerful one. I hope that all of our students continue their quests and “follow every rainbow.” (Of course, this hints at another one of my favorite films, but that is for another discussion in another blog post.)
As always, if I can be of any further assistance or clarification in helping either you or your student, please do not hesitate to contact me at school or at my home.

Happy hunting and all best.
Mr. Kannan

1 comment:

  1. I love the Sound of Music, too!:)