OK, and so one of the expressions I learned at Electronic Arts, which I love, which pertains to this, is experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted. And I think that’s absolutely lovely. And the other thing about football is we send our kids out to play football or soccer or swimming or whatever it is, and it’s the first example of what I’m going to call a head fake, or indirect learning. We actually don’t want our kids to learn football. I mean, yeah, it’s really nice that I have a wonderful three-point stance and that I know how to do a chop block and all this kind of stuff. But we send our kids out to learn much more important things. Teamwork, sportsmanship, perseverance, etcetera, etcetera. And these kinds of head fake learning are absolutely important. And you should keep your eye out for them because they’re everywhere.
These words from Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture often come to me when I read about school administrations seemingly getting in the way of education. The latest debacle in Trumbull is a great example of this.
The short version is that the principal canceled the production of the high school version of the musical RENT because of the sensitive issues that it raises. When he received pushback, he said that more time was needed to talk with students about the topics. After the story went national and theatre companies across Connecticut offered to assist, he backed down a little bit, but still had to try and get the last word in by moving the date to one that conflicts with other school events.
On one level, he is to be applauded for his efforts to make sure there is a meaningful discussion around the play, if that is his true intent. He has spoken about having the Anti Defamation League help with these discussions. This got me curious. Why the Anti Defamation League?
Yes, there are lessons to be learned about homophobia and bullying, but there are so many more lessons to be learned as well. As a health care activist, I’m especially interested in discussions about HIV/AIDS. I’ve written before about HIV/AIDS in the area around Trumbull High School and have spoken with other health care advocates in the area.
One health care worker in the Trumbull area I wrote to replied, “As you may know, I've been working in the area of HIV for aprox. 21 years, as we are in the 32rd year of the epidemic, I don't think we have done a good job with addressing the stigmas that is associated with the disease….Trumbull is part of my catchment area. I have not been able to make any inroads in that community.”
Yes, let’s have a serious discussion about the issues RENT brings up. Let’s make sure we have an open, honest, and frank discussion about HIV/AIDS around Trumbull and how stigmatizing the disease only makes things worse.
But back to the Anti Defamation League. I wondered why they were involved. A search online about the Anti Defamation League and the high school musical RENT turned up this article:
Apparently, another high school tried cancelling RENT. In this case, football students bullied a student who had expressed her disappointment about the school cancelling RENT and soon after “received honors from their school for their athletic prowess.” The ADL became involved in part of the settlement of a lawsuit brought against the school district.
I hope, for the sake of Trumbull that the school does not get sued, and that there won’t be negative repercussions for the schools football team.
This was four years ago, so I wondered if there was something more recent I should know about. So, I contacted the director of the Anti Defamation League in Connecticut to talk about what was going on there. He wrote, “Although we have not formally heard from the High School at this point, we have seen the press reports and a press release from Trumbull High confirming that it will get us involved in this matter.”
He also wrote about how the ADL already has “a pretty deep and long relationship with Trumbull High School. For a number of years now, we have been providing the school with training that fights bigotry, promotes respect for difference and counters bullying.”
One would think that if the principal of Trumbull High School was so concerned the educational opportunities around RENT, he would have contacted them already, instead of having them rely on news reports and press releases about the controversy.
This takes me back to my opening. There is a lot to be learned from producing high school musicals. Some of it is indirect learning. The student who spoke up in favor of RENT has demonstrated amazing poise. The principal who refused to appear on camera is demonstrating that he is a petty bureaucrat most likely propped up by other petty bureaucrats, more interested in demonstrating what bullying is by trying to make things difficult for others when he can’t get his way.
Let’s hope that the students in Trumbull, as well as their parents and voters find more ways to stop bullying.
Recently, the Making Things Happen blog reviewed my daughter's book Don't Make Art, Just Make Something. It ends off with:
The trick is to understand what makes the Miranda Asilings of the world tick—and how best we can foster such maker empowered dispositions in others.
As Miranda's dad, I would like to think that I had something to do with how Miranda ticks and I've been pondering that comment since I read it.
Today, I stumbled across a couple things that might provide a little insight.
First, I saw the video This is Water based on a 2005 commencement speech by David Foster Wallace at Kenyon College. It captures ennui of the daily grind, and why people may feel they need to veg after they get home from a long day at work.
I can understand that feeling, but instead of vegging, I prefer to write something. Last month as National Novel Writing Month. I completed the first draft of my second novel. It doesn't matter if it ever gets published. Writing it was fun and there was a great sense of accomplishment when I finished.
Today, I saw another video, Learn what most schools don't teach. It is about programming. This is Computer Science Education Week. For me, writing computer programs is another form of relaxation similar to writing fiction. It helps get around the ennui of daily life.
Most importantly, by writing, whether it be fiction or computer programs, we become empowered creators and not just bored workers vegging in front of the television at the end of a long day.
Yesterday, professional photographers, stylists and others from around the world gathered to provide portraits to people otherwise haven't had the opportunity to have their portraits taken.
CHC participated in Help Portrait for a second year and we had some great photographers and stylists help ou.
When I got home from my various events of the day, I checked on Facebook and saw a couple great posts about this.
It appears, for whatever reason, photography was on a lot of people's minds yesterday. Several people shared different links to collections of photographs, Initially, I was going to reshare them on Facebook, but there were too many, so I decided to share them as part of this blog posts.
So, from the sublime pictures of Help Portrait, I move to the humorous if not ridiculous.
Recently, as we remember the 50th anniversary of the death of President Kennedy, I got into discussions about those moments in history that we always remember.
People talk about the day JFK was shot, the day John Lennon was shot, September 11th. It seems it is often the sad days we remember. Today is another sad day. Nelson Mandela has died.
Yet I remember the day Nelson Mandela was released. It was February 11, 1990. It was a Sunday morning when we heard the news. I was living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. It was twelve days before my first daughter was born.
We headed off to Grace Episcopal Church at Tenth and Broadway and the jubilation filled the church.