Tuesday, January 29, 2013


(sigh) Here it is almost the end of January, and this is my first post of the new year —I'm afraid I have radically slowed down since I began last summer (perhaps I should have paced myself a bit). My excuse this time is that we have been dealing with medical issues in the household: our older little dog (our dogs and cats are my babies) has been diagnosed with diabetes, so we've had a lot to learn about glucose monitoring and insulin injections and such… And, after pondering and agonizing over it for many months, I have finally finished up a long missive on global warming (soon to go up on another blog) — the one thing that occupies my mind almost as much as dance teaching — which has used up a large chunk of my writing brain lately… I guess the upshot is that I do have a life outside of dance and teaching, and life intervenes. So it goes (to quote Vonnegut).

So anyway — I hate to start the year on a negative note, but I feel the need to vent a little about teenagers… Not all teenagers, of course — I have worked with so many responsible and dynamically creative teen students — just the ones who don't care to know anything about the world around them, that they will soon inherit...

I usually teach world / cultural dance forms in the spring semester, and this spring we began with Congolese (I got to practice that sentence I learned in a workshop at NDEO, "I am not an expert in this form, but I have learned ti from an expert and I would like to share some of what I learned with you"). We practiced the Congolese rhythm Zebola, then in our weekly "classroom day" (minimum days too short to get dressed and dance, so we go to a classroom for reading or video observations), I gave the class a one-page reading on the history of Congo and Central Africa — from the ancient Kingdom of Kongo through King Leopold's brutalities and the US-backed execution of Patrice Lumumba. Of course I always expect some pushback to reading about history — "this is boring," "this is a dance class, why should I care about this"… So I brought up the current situation, how resource wars over the coltan needed to power our electronic devices like cell phones are fueling violence in the Congo, hoping to bring some kind of relevance in how what happens across the world is connected to our own lives. The reaction was, unfortunately, along the same lines — "so what are we supposed to do, stop buying cell phones?" I tried to explain about our duty as world citizens to at least know what goes into the things we buy and what our governments do to control resources… but to no avail.

Maybe I'm asking too much, but I know that while I was teaching at EOSA there would always be a critical mass of students who were interested in the social issues inherent in what we were studying — perhaps that was because of the truly exceptional social studies teachers on staff there… I do also remember that when I was in high school, there was definitely some social awareness of what was going on in the world. For goodness' sakes, we listened to protest songs on the radio! (that pretty well dates me, I guess). Maybe it has a little bit to do with what gets onto the radio these days — with the corporate-dominated radio stations playing commercial pablum, teens just don't get as much exposure to the issues… Who knows?

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