<"http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> Welcome to the Ceili
Friday, May 21, 2010
Breaking Frames
I've been blessed with good teachers all my life: my parents, my 2nd grade teacher, my middle school science teacher, my high school AP junior english teacher, and most recently my two mentors from FDP, Dharmonia and Coyotebanjo. I think many of the teachers surrounding me now will join that group of people.

This week was hard, in a lot of ways. The world is so full of truly awful things and it feels as if there's nothing substantial a single individual can do against that onslaught. What I'm learning is that we all have to find our little world-improving patch of ground and hope that others do the same, and teaching is proving to be at least part of my little patch of ground.

After 8 weeks of a Music and World Cultures class several of my kids turned in an assignment using pejorative, evaluative terms about a culture they "othered." What I've discovered this week is that my teaching priorities are threefold:
  1. Introduce my students to the music I love, and the music I don't love so much, because I truly believe in the power and beauty of music as a vehicle for positive change in the world.
  2. Advocate tolerance of difference through the study of music and culture, because kids need to learn that different [sound] doesn't automatically mean bad, or ugly.
  3. To help kids identify how their media is framed, and to break frames I find particularly destructive, because everything is spun and people need to realize the difference between spin and data.
How does that apply to this week in teaching?

I broke some damn frames. Particularly the Self/Other frame.

In case of emergency: BREAK FRAMES
  1. Ask students why we study music and culture (or why we study at all in the age of The Google).
  2. Tell students that knowledge/data/media is mediated through frameworks (very often in an entirely subversive way)
  3. Identify a major framework as the self/other dichotomy, particularly the notion of defining ourselves and our culture by what we're not
  4. Self: White American Middle-Class Straight Christian Male
  5. Other: Minority African Lower-Class LGBT Islamic Female
  6. Identify the evaluative terms that cause a positive gut-reaction often associated with Self: Cultured, Educated, Hard-Working, Pure, Moral, Civilized
  7. Identify the evaluative terms that cause a negative gut-reaction often associated with Other: Lazy, Immoral, Feminine, Dirty, Uneducated, Classless, Primitive, Hypersexual
  8. Show how these terms are used to describe certain groups of people, even though these evaluative terms have NOTHING to do with the actuality of the people represented: African/Primitive, Lower-class/Lazy, American/Moral, Islamic/Uneducated, LGBT/Hypersexual, etc.
  9. Ask again, why do we study?
  10. We study to break the frame (erase self/other and evaluative terms, leaving only people).
  11. Empower your students to question their frames.
Peace, Love, and Tunes,

posted by Mac Tíre at 7:09 PM ¤ Permalink ¤