Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Shock or Shlock


Here’s a sample of the AOL Headlines from today:

• St. Louis police fatally shoot man wielding knife
• 2-year old girl among latest killings in Gaza
• Startling details surface in Bali suitcase murder
• Casey Kasem’s body has been located
• Walmart shooting under scrutiny
• Mom jailed in methadone death
• Dad on trial for killing man execution style
• Grandmother fires tragic shot

Thank you, AOL, for such a charming portrait of humanity. I’m sure it served an admirable purpose, helping your readers to feel great hope in human potential and renew their vows to heal all illness and comfort the afflicted. I imagine it made them so glad to have brought children into this world and fed their vision of a bright future. It was particularly moving to hear about the Mom, Dad and Grandmother killing their kids. Amongst all the stories to report amidst the daily lives of 7 billion people, you chose wisely to highlight the beauty of the human heart and our overflowing capacity for love and compassion.

Not!

Now I do wish you had sent a reporter to my World Music class for teachers these past two days. Your headlines may have read like this:

• Teachers spend the last week of summer vacation at a class designed to help them serve the children they teach better.

• 75 teachers gathered on Monday morning and played, sang and danced themselves to joyful community without the workshop leader giving a single verbal instruction.

• Teacher reveals that he was burnt out and ready to quit until he took a similar course two years ago and saw the possibility of a dynamic, creative and loving pedagogy that reinvigorated him. And now he was back for more.

• Teacher considered a new approach to recorder and is thinking about changing her teaching so it’s more fun for her and her students.

• 28 teachers create four fabulous folk dances in four small groups without speaking a single word! Just plunged in and danced to the music until a choreography was formed by silent consensus.

• Teacher reports how 22,000 people in her home country of Estonia sang for hours in a recent Festival— and everyone knew the songs!

What do you think, AOL? Newsworthy? Do you think the public might enjoy reading little stories like these? Might they be considered as much real news as the grandmother firing the gun? And do you think they might be as interesting to read as your non-violent news?

• KFC employees left speechless by man’s hair.
• Where to find the cheapest jeans.
• 3 take-out mistakes everyone makes
• Who ranks at the top wireless network?
• How does Disney fast pass work?

Shock or shlock. The world as unending brutality, the world as pointless trivia. Every day you contribute to narrowing our vision, feeding our fear, keeping the machinery of cynicism running.

There’s three more days of my course. Stop by and consider a different world than the one you portray. Royal Conservatory of Music, Bloor St., Toronto.

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