carnival of education Archives - The Jose Vilson

carnival of education

Our Own Conductorless Orchestra

by Jose Vilson on October 24, 2007

OrchestraFirst off, shout-outs to History is Elementary for the latest Carnival of Education, which I participated in. I need to get with the program and actually turn my blogs in on time and early.

Also, tomorrow, for those of you reading for my Penny Harvest escapades, I’ll have a whole blog or two on them in the next couple of days. That should be fun.

In any case, I went to Carnegie Hall last night with my girl and our friends. Yeah, that’s far from my favorite chill spot. I might have been the only dude of my demographic representing there.  The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, dubbed the most famous conducterless orchestra, had their opening night. The show itself was amazing; the sounds captivated me and really took me to another place, and that’s something music should do. I found myself tapping my feet trying to look for a drum or a dope bass line, but alas, I knew better in Carnegie.

It made me think about the purpose of having an inquiry-based class, where kids actually ask critical questions about what they’re being exposed to. The violinists and cello players come in when they need to. The flutes go off on time. The drums and horns come in time with everything else in the song. And it was all without someone telling them what to do. They just did it. When I thought about it, though, I said, “They’ve had this type of training for decades, and practice their rituals and routines almost every day. Even with a summer break, they’re ready to roll when they come in.”

Unfortunately, we don’t have a system in place where that can occur.

I’ve expounded on this before, but I think it’s worth noting: students in most urban schools are having a hard time with the workshop model, and it’s very simple. Studies have shown that student-centered models of education don’t work unless they’ve had a stable foundation of step-by-step direction and / or teacher-guided instruction, and that the latter tends to be more efficient through the primary years. In other words, many of them need to be shown what they’re supposed to be researching and how to do it before they go about it themselves.

Politically, this also means that, if indeed we have more teacher-guided instruction, that actually makes us more indispensable, and they can’t just treat teachers like cogs in the factory. I’m pretty sure people want the most effective and experienced teachers in there, but when we go to the other extreme of student-centered teaching, there’s a popular sentiment that you can put practically anyone up there and they’ll just moderate the kids’ work.

The most successful examples of the workshop model have been where the teacher incorporates a healthy dose of both. I agree that children should start learning concepts and abstractions at an early age, but if we think about the stage of their lives they’re in, it’s obvious that they often need direction. Why would it be any different in the classroom? They should at least be afforded the opportunity to know what are the more important questions, hence taking more and not less ownership over their own learning.

So I look at the orchestra again, and they’re kickin’ butt. All they do is look at each other and they’re off. Strings flying, horns blowing, and all sorts of other instruments playing their part, all without a conductor to let them know how loud or soft they’re supposed to be, or to remind them of when they’re supposed to join the music. They all just know.




by Jose Vilson on October 7, 2007

John Lennon “Imagine”Imagine there’s no Heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today …

Field Negro’s contemplations about religion, Lupe Fiasco, my grandfather’s memorial service, and other personal issues really had me thinking about the positions I’m taking in worldly issues. It made me think about the existence of Heaven and what it means for so many of us trying to find meaning in our lives. It’s about 12:53pm and normally if I was a practicing Catholic, I’d be in church right now. Instead, I think about why it is I’ve left the pipe dreams the church sold me almost 10 years ago. We’ve become so complacent with everything around us …

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

We’ve sat down and watched as the world around us and everyone else’s individual interests overshadow the collective well-being of the proletariat. It’s almost as if we live our lives wantonly, waiting until the very last moment to reconcile with ourselves and our relationship with the G_d within us. There are wars going on, famine, sexism, racism, unneeded death, and all sorts of pestilence ravaging our world, but many of us accept it because, as much as we preach change, we’re really not.

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Even personally, we have issues with our parents, friends, lovers, co-workers, strangers we randomly meet, children, students, employers, … that list is interminable, and yet we constantly try to find a way to find a balance. Some of us go about it one way and end up miserable, while some of us have been successful in that endeavor. I’m personally still trying to keep things in perspective. Maybe it’s my Aquarian nature to think so idealistically about the state of the world, but there has to be a time for us to finally come together.

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world …

And I’m not saying some of these issues don’t happen for a reason. Problems throughout the world are in constant reaction to the last action, similar to a pebble in a pond, and the more pebbles you put into the pond, the more the waves crash with each other. Think about the constant intersections of rupture, and somewhere in between them, a plateau of stillness.

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

Imagine if we weren’t simply searching for utter happiness, but peace. Simply being angry isn’t going to do anything other than alleviate my emotional wounds. Acting and being part of the solution has become so vital to my quest for true peace. Everything is relative, and when we put our lives’ pieces in proper perspective, it becomes a lot easier to imagine that reality …

jose, who wonders if someone noticed the theme since last sunday …

p.s. – Shout-outs to:

AM, who wrote a really good entry about me,

All the Carnivals I forgot to highlight as of late like JD’s Carnival of Math 18,

Evolution’s Carnival of Education 139,

Global Citizenship in a Virtual World’s Carnival of Education 138, and

EducationWonks’ Carnival of Education 137.

I’ll do a better job after this, honest.