Saturday, September 3, 2011

Not just a great song from Rodgers and Hammerstein, but a way of life!

Over the course of the year, one element that students come to identify in my blog is that they get to know more of me through my writing. This will be one of those seminal moments.

Standing upon the altar of confession, I make the open declaration that I am a fan of the musical, The Sound of Music.

It is not something that is concealed too openly. Two years ago with my 8th graders, we watched the film in connection with our study of the 1930s. This was a moment where I was able to have students blog about the film, and enjoy it simultaneously. While I was mocked mercilessly by my colleagues who kept on singing, "Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens" or "I Have Confidence," it was worth it.

My favorite part of the film, though, has to be when the Mother Abbess sings "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" to Maria. When we watched it in class, I remember pausing the film and then telling my rather talkative 8th graders that if anyone spoke during the song, I would never forgive them. They were taken aback, but even more surprised, and perhaps disturbed, when they saw me shed tears like a newborn baby as the song continued. I will stand on the altar of confession one more time in saying that I cry during The Sound of Music.

This is really embarrassing.

All this is to bring out the power of the song and how relevant it is to what we do. The idea of struggle as a part of being in the world is something that the song articulates. The need to "follow every rainbow until you find your dream" is something that I have always felt has personal and professional connection. There is struggle and a sense of pain and discomfort in what brings purpose to our lives. The song brings this out in a beautiful and lyrical manner.

I look to our students right now and see that like the Maria and the von Trapps, they, too, climb every mountain until they find their own dreams of scholarship. 8th graders took the first step on this journey, scaling the arduous heights of their own mountains and a fairly thick packet on the Constitution. Their journeys become more difficult with this course of study next week. Nightly progress must be made on memorizing the Preamble, grasping the concepts of the goals and principles that helped to form the document. There is no way of getting around this mountain as they take an active step towards their own dreams of scoring well on the Constitution Exam on October 20 and 21st.

For our seventh graders, they arm themselves on their own climbing of intellectual mountains with a green packet on The Crucible. No doubt this is a difficult mountain to climb, slippery and steep. Arthur Miller is not one to be taken for the faint of heart. This is going to be challenging and I can say that many of our students have really accepted this challenge. The grasping of difficult emotional and social valences has been very unique and interesting to see. Students are reminded to not fall behind on nightly homework, and if more assistance is needed on scaling this mountain, they are encouraged to speak with me during lunch. Setting up an appointment to go over difficult concepts or to even gain greater instruction can be very helpful in both the content grasping, but also in forging a bond with instructors to better understand what is being taught and how to receive it. This is a life skill, and one that can help in climbing the mountains that will be present for our students "every day of their lives, for as long as they shall live," to paraphrase the song.

I wish our students nothing but the best as they climb every mountain, follow every rainbow, until they find their dreams.

All best.
Mr. Kannan

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