Amidst a thousand metaphors for teaching, the idea of a daily excavation to scrape back the dirt to discover yet another hidden treasure is not a bad one. Thanks to the benevolence of the flight gods (both flights exactly on time without a hitch!), I made it in time for my early Thursday morning workshops at my 39th AOSA National Orff Conference. I’m still working on my Jazz, Joy, Justice theme and each pass through offers the possibility of noticing another glint of gold. My presentation was delightfully rich with different media, a blend of me reciting a Langston Hughes poem, playing a children’s game, turning it into a live and swinging and learned in five-minutes blues, watching a video of my 4th graders playing the same tune and a recording of my jazz band taking it up a notch, comparing and contrasting Elvis and Big Mama Thornton on Youtube singing Hound Dog, quoting Pope Nicholas’s treatise Dum Diversas (look it up) and Voltaire’s “follow the money” quote about slavery, telling some of the stories from my emerging JJJ book, urging teachers to rise to the demands of our times by “illuminating that which has remained hidden” (in the face of Republicans passing laws desperately trying to bury it again so the population remains ignorant) and ending with singing “This Little Light of Mine.” The Power Point gods were on my side, I ended pretty much right at the end of the allotted 75 minutes and despite only four hours sleep from a bad decision to drink some coffee in the Chicago Airport, kept my energy high and dynamic. Happy to have had the chance to do it!
The little gold I unearthed was a new couple of phrases about what I’m aiming for.
1) Tell the stories.
2) Tell the story behind the stories.
In other words, it’s vital to tell the kind of stories I tell about the jazz musicians and their encounters with systemic racism. But alone it’s not enough. The kids have to understand the story threading behind the stories— the narrative of White Supremacy. To present that narrative without the personal stories examples is likewise not enough— too abstract.
So both together. Tell the stories and the story behind the stories. Hopefully, that will help move the needed change forward. And if you can combine it with playing some great blues and dancing and singing, the body/mind is more open to receive it all and the vibrations can echo out further into the world.
That’s what I set out to do and it was a good start. On to more digging tomorrow.