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Monday, December 03, 2007
The Point of it All
Weekend's over, but still stuff to go before the semester ends.

One of the blogs I read on a regular basis is Terminal Degree. Let me say that the subject of her latest post scares the absolute hell out of me. From the post itself:

A bunch of students chose to comment on an essay about same-sex marriage:

"Marriage is the solidification of a man and woman." (What, do they get frozen in carbonite by Darth Vader?)

"Gay marriage was legalized in the State of San Francisco."

In a paper in which the author claims gays should not be free to marry, he/she writes that the gay rights movement cannot be compared to the civil rights movement because "The gays are already free and can do what they want."

"Traditional marriage is better...well hell yea it is more stable; how messed up do you think a kid is going to be when they think that two guys are really their birth parents. For instance how is a young boy supposed to grow into a man; when both of his parents are men, and one of them is a little bitch for the other one to pound on whenever he gets the urge."

"Fagots claim that it is not their fault they are queer, but every person has the knowledge of write vs. wrong." (Incidentally, if a student is going to use a pejorative term like "faggot," it might help if he/she doesn't spell it as "fagot." I'm just sayin'.)

"The only thing that can save them from going to hell is to change their lifestyle, get saved by God, and confuse their sins."

"No one should feel comfortable being interment with the same sex. A child raised by same sex parents wont make since." (I think he meant intimate.)

Why does this scare me? Well not least of all, I come from the South. I went to high school in a place where anyone who was suspected of being gay went to the counselor's office. I know better than most what type of prejudice there is out there, but to spout this garbage on a COLLEGE ESSAY. That's what blows my mind. Not only do these students think this way, they can't comprehend a world bigger than their small minds. I love where I come from. Hospitality, high emphasis on friends and family, a sense of community and stability......my home has all of these. Unfortunately it also harbors racism, sexism, and overall a generally confining view of what is right and wrong based on outdated religious beliefs.

I play music because I believe it's what I'm made to do. I teach to open minds. Despite what David Horowitz thinks, I don't want to indoctrinate them with my Godless liberal leanings......then I'd be no better than him. I teach because I want my students to intricately examine the universe they live in and make their own decisions. We can shake our heads and laugh at their ignorance all day long, but isn't it better to do something about it? Isn't that what we try to do? Aren't we supposed to meet ignorance, prejudice, and hate deep in the trenches with knowledge, compassion, and love?

I had a conversation recently with my father about plagiarism and the idea that it's becoming almost impossible to catch everyone who's cheating. He was rather disheartened by the large numbers of students he suspects of cheating, even though he can only catch a small number of them. This may be naive, but I told him that I didn't think our real purpose was to catch the cheaters. Do we try to? You betcha. If I can catch a student presenting someone else's thoughts as their own I will nail them to the wall. But, I make it clear to the student that it's not because they took the shortcut. It's because they claimed work and ideas that weren't theirs.

What's important about research papers?
  1. Teaching students to find CREDIBLE sources.....this means making them realize that not everything they read is accurate. They learn that the human condition distorts reality, and because of this fact they need to learn to use their brains.
  2. Teaching students how to PROCESS large amounts of information and how to COMPILE it into something useful.
  3. Teaching students how to make a LOGICAL argument by presenting RELEVANT evidence to support their ideas.
  4. Most important......Teaching students that their ideas and observations are valid, and that they should have the courage to say what they think (after they've thought it out).
Everyday we show up for them. We get less than five hours of sleep (on a good day); grab the coffee; fight the high school kids in the neighborhood to get TO the college; walk carrying three flutes, two textbooks, and a guitar halfway across campus; rehearse for performances; learn tunes; console friends; fix crises; TA for the Early Music section of history; write the blog posts; teach the middle school kids how to play the flute; study for exams; put on the costumes and play, play, play; go home and set up extra study sessions for the kids who want them; read for the thesis; plan recitals; learn the gig music; read more of the independent student evaluations so that we can reach them better; drift off to sleep at about 1:30AM after setting the alarm for 6:00AM and get up and do it again. We get burned out, and stressed, and wonder if we have what it takes to give them what they need AND do what WE have to do without going insane.

But we do it so that we can get rid of hateful, ignorant words and deeds.

"Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love, this is the eternal rule." --Buddha

Peace, Love, and Tunes,


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