The Kuleshov Effect and Soviet Montage

Posted by Eric Meiring

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Soviet Filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein

 

During our meeting this week, the conversation shifted to the way art can affect the perception of the viewer, and, in turn, how these perceptions can be manipulated by the artist.

An extremely important example of this manipulation is the Kuleshov Effect. The Kuleshov Effect was developed by Soviet film theorist and director Lev Kuleshov during the 1910s and 1920s. An editing technique, and a theoretical precursor to modern montage, the Kuleshov effect is a mental phenomena in which the viewer derives more meaning from multiple shots back to back, than from a single shot alone. Kuleshov’s films demonstrated that when a static shot of a man’s face is shown in combination with another shot, the viewer’s interpretation of the man’s expression is dramatically altered. When the man is preceded by a bowl of soup, viewers see the man’s expression as hungry; When the man is preceded by a girl in a casket, viewers see the man’s expression as sad. Critics hailed Kuleshov’s editing techniques as innovative and emotionally powerful; of course, the man’s face was still a completely static shot. Here, Kuleshov’s theory and technique was proven valid and effective even under the highest level of scrutiny.

This theory was later expanded upon by Kuleshov’s student and master director Sergei Eisenstein. Kuleshov’s theory appears in the opening sequences of Eisenstein’s masterpiece, “The Battleship Potemkin,” and is made use of throughout the film. The modern montage owes much of its existence to these two filmmakers, and montage’s ability to affect and influence the viewer is an important structure to remember when interpreting a work of art.

 

The Kuleshov Effect: 

 

Community through Video Production

As I’ve started thinking about the new school year, I’m focused on developing community in my classroom – in my AP Lit, Humanities English 10 (my PAGES class), and D-Town Video Production. The longer I teach, the more I see the positive effects community building has on my students’ learning as well as their ways of living with each other in the world. One of the more significant successes of community building at the end of this last year involved a group of students in my video production class. They were eagerly gathered around a computer to watch the final version of a video by my student Clay. He wrote, directed, filmed and scored a movie called “The Book Robber”. Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 1.58.41 PMThis couldn’t have happened a year ago because Clay and three of his classmates from the Transitions classroom wouldn’t have been in my class. Our school’s Transitions students have a variety of developmental disorders, but several are identified as being on the autism spectrum and have characteristics thereof that preclude them from being mainstreamed, but their teachers are always in search of regular ed classes in which they can not only be included, but where they can become a part of the community.

 

A year and a half ago, my course had developed a reputation of community building through a small group project-oriented approach to making short films. Early last August, two weeks before school started, Miss Emily, a teaching assistant in our Transitions room, stopped by to let me know that we would be working together this year in D-Town Video Production, as four of her students had been added to my class. This was a joyful surprise to me; the students in the Transitions classroom had previously been successfully mainstreamed into gym class (for both the physical and social benefits). Administration and the Transitions lead teacher had decided that D-Town would be an ideal addition for some of their students. My four new students had varying degrees of autism, and the primary goal for them would be socialization.

Delaware City’s stance on inclusion is in tune with my own – we want our “regular ed” students and our “inclusion” students to have as much interaction as possible for the benefit of both of them. We grow compassionate, patient, thoughtful students who understand that the world is a blend of people of various abilities who all have something to offer.

Twenty years ago, I worked for Goodwill Industries in Columbus by teaching daily living skills to adults and young adults in their homes and in the community, most of that time being spent with a boy named Joey who had moderate autism. When we would be out in the community, I would be saddened by the way Joey was perceived and treated by others – as being so different as to be unaware of how negatively strangers would sometimes treat him. During our two years together, I often thought that my job was only half of what it should have been – I was helping him learn to be in the world, but often it was a world that didn’t know how to be with him. This new opportunity in D-Town would be a realization of what I had always hoped my time with Joey could have been – a chance to develop real community.

Going into last year, the goal I was given for these four young men was to provide them with opportunities to be in community, to build socialization skills. The “regular ed” (I dislike the term, but it is the one my context uses, so I’ll stick with it) students’ video production teams each invited a Transition student (the kids don’t use these words – for them they are just other students) into their groups. The Transition students might hold a reflector to help with lighting, or would even act at times, but I wanted something more for them.

Mid-September, I said to Miss Emily, “What would happen if we put a camera into one of your students’ hands and just let him go with it? What would the world look like to him?” So I asked Austin if we could work together to make a film. He had made attempts at storyboarding when we practiced the skill as a class, but the cognitive process of creating a plot would have required so much prompting from me that I feared the film might take on too much of my own vision. I wanted the film to be his as much as possible, so I asked him if he wanted to film one of the classes at the school, and we talked through which ones would be most interesting to capture on video. He decided to film the ceramics class.

Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 2.06.14 PMBefore our first visit to the ceramics room, we talked through how he would tell the teacher about his idea for the film and how he would ask the students for their permission to film them. He did both wonderfully, and the students and teacher were enthusiastic about the possibility. Austin and I reviewed how to use the DSLR before class the next morning, then we went to the ceramics room and filmed for the period. I would remind him to watch the camera’s screen to make sure he was keeping the subject in frame, but otherwise he was in control. When we got back to our room the next day, we began editing. I showed him how to use Final Cut Express and guided him through the process, but left him in control. He chose music from a free music website we searched together. He made this film - “Ceramics”. Austin and I had discovered together how rich his and his friends’ experience could be in D-Town, far beyond just socialization.

A month later, I invited Ty’ron, another Transitions student, to make a movie with me. While less verbally communicative than Austin, Ty’ron loved to write on the board and windows of our room. His writing often included drawings, though both still required some interpretation – we were seeing into his way of thinking. So I was excited about the prospects of how he might be able to create more of a narrative than Austin had. Ty’ron showed up the next day with a complete script. The two of us spent the next few weeks working on his film. Again, I showed him how to use the camera and then rehearsedScreen Shot 2016-07-25 at 2.11.38 PMthe social interactions with him before he approached the teachers and students he wanted in the film, but otherwise he was in control. He even acted in his film, “New Things! My TKCCSV Things?”: a loosely narrative film in which he polls students and teachers about his favorite things to see which ones they liked best. When we showed his film to the student body in one of our monthly viewings in the auditorium, they cheered with support, both before and after. It was beautiful.

Clay’s project was my last collaboration for the year. He had made a film about lunchtime earlier in the year, but it never really felt like him – it was more of an imitation of the style of film Austin had made. Clay wanted to make a second film and came to me with a multiple scene script about a student stealing a book from the library and then being tracked down by school detectives. Clay was open to discussing and revising the script to make it meet the audience’s needs because he truly cares about movies. In fact, he has an encyclopedic knowledge of film. It is one of his gifts. And his film shows it – you can see gags, plot twists, and exchanges adapted into his film from the many he knows and loves.

We were making this film in the midst of my other students filming their final projects, so time was scarce, but five of the boys in D-Town happily agreed to give up a day and a half of class to act in Clay’s film. Clay described their costume needs and they actually all remembered to bring their materials on the right day (a victory and a rarity – really a sign of their caring for Clay).

I walked with the group to get them into the spaces they would need, but Clay was in control. Occasionally I asked Clay if he wanted to get a second shot of something just in case, but he declined, and he was right to do so. The film turned out wonderfully. For Clay’s film, I was a little more active in the editing process, as he finds the tedium of importing footage difficult, but then he made final edit suggestions and chose the music. He made a film that his new D-Town friends were proud to be in. They had fun making it, and as I watched them I understood it to be an act of caring that I’m not even sure they were aware of. It is just their way of being. Here’s Clay’s film -  ”The Book Robber”.

Our D-Town students, through filmmaking, have a chance to grow together in their compassion and understanding of each other. My love of this course has grown exponentially because of this, partially because of the community we have formed, but also because we no longer see boundaries. Everything is possible; anything could lead to an amazing experience. We just need to be open to the moment.

For this next year I am gamifying D-Town so that students work toward badges for the different filmmaking skills (lighting, editing, directing). One of the badges I’m most excited about is the Buddy Badge – I’m going to let go of the control I had this year and invite the regular ed students to partner with the Transition students to mentor them through their own filmmaking process as I have done. The potential for growth for all of them will be wondrous.

We are creating a space together in which we aren’t Transition students and regular ed students. We are filmmaking together, and honoring each other’s unique ways of being through art and community. We are learning to be human together.

Tom Hering, English Teacher

Students Answer Life’s Messy Questions Together

We don’t always have the answers to life’s messy questions.  Through the PAGES program, English I students had the opportunity to experience Girlhood and consider how one teenage girl attempts to answer these questions.  With very few resources or reliable people guiding her in the right direction, Marieme makes a chain of “bad” choices.

2016-01-29 13.48.38During our post-visit, the following messy questions were printed and cut into strips:

What is on the other side of this choice?
What if I dare to dream?
What does my voice sound like?
Whose life is this anyway?
How do you know it’s love?
What if I make “the wrong” decision?
Who do I think I am?
Who is in control of this situation?
What do I do now?
To get to tomorrow, what do I need to do today?

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Students chose one question that interested them and formed groups based on that question.  Within their groups, they discussed and wrote about the following:

    • If Marieme had asked herself this question at different moments in the film, what would have been her answer? At the beginning, the middle, the end?
    • Think about moments in your own lives. What do you need to know to be able to answer these questions?

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Students selected a peer from their group to report their answers to the class.  The resulting discussion proved that while small, these young students had big things to say! They were able to effectively analyze a film as a text and make connections to their own lives:

Even when she made a bad decision, it was HER decision, and she was in control.”

Showing love is love; it’s about what you do versus what you say. “

I picked this but I didn’t know what this meant until they helped me.”

You have to consider every outcome, not just the good.  You cannot ignore the bad effects of your choices.  You need to think critically about your choices.”  

“She lost everyone because of one bad choice.” 

“I don’t think the door was locked for her. I don’t think doors are locked forever.

“Don’t doubt yourself.”

 

In the Classroom: Seven Ways Into The Media Arts Experience

We will screen Girlhood, a film by Céline Sciamma, in a matter of days, and we are busy in the classroom engaging with this upcoming experience in myriad ways. When encountering a text, or a large body of work in Pages, we try to avoid considering that text as the end all, be all, the grand moment, the point to reach, and then we’re done. Instead we cultivate conversations between the main text and other texts, sometimes, unlikely ones or weird ones; we stretch and stretch some more, the content and themes. We ask: How many different ways can we get into this work, and make connections beyond it? Below are some examples:

 

What’s in a name? –with Kim Leddy, Mosaic

Mosaic students are beginning a big folklore project, and with that we began to think about the narratives of our lives. We considered these tales that wave and warn our curiosities into wonder and at other times into submission.

We began with the folklore of names, entertaining why we name things, especially inanimate objects, and that led us into two nonfiction texts, excerpts of text-based journalism, about the folklore around how Apple’s iconic Siri got her name. We read two excerpted versions of the story (tech folklore if you will), then had students turn to writing their own coming-to-name narratives, a play on the idea of coming-of-age, a central theme in the film, Girlhood.

 

Whose life is this anyway? – with Kim Swensen, Westerville North

Students are in the thick of Toni Morrison’s Sula, so we paired that text with the children’s book, also by Morrison along with her son Slade, The Big Box, and a song in the front yard, by Gwendolyn Brooks. In those pairings we discussed identity, boundaries, oppression, and choice. Students found the characters in each of the text were seeking something, but in that seeking there were obstacles, interventions, and consequences.

After a rich discussion making connections in all three texts, students wrote in the voice of the character in the Gwendolyn Brooks piece, seeking beyond what is immediately before in plain sight. Students asked themselves what they were curious about, what spaces, boundaries, or mindset did they want to break open or expand, theme explored at length in Girlhood.

 

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Why don’t students read more poetry? – with Thomas Hering, Delaware Hayes

Students are reading The Yellow Wallpaper, and thinking about ideals around feminism, oppression, and voice. We wanted to explore more poetry (because students do not get a lot poetry in the curriculum), so we paired that short story text with a few poems, one we read in the pre-visit, Letter to a Friend Unsent, by Rebecca Lindenberg. We also began with a short video clip of Naomi Shihab Nye on the civic responsibility of the poet, a case for poetry to move and stir the senses, a permission to be human and to feel emotion and vulnerability, to engage with empathy.

We pulled the texts in conversation with each other, as students made connections to safe and unsafe spaces, boundaries and oppression, the stillness or the coming to voice, something the main character in Girlhood grapples with throughout the film, and themes running through The Yellow Wallpaper.

 

What can we learn from the artist and why is that important to our writing? – with Aaron Sherman, ACPA

We used our session to slow down and learn from the artists, using two different texts: film and poetry. We wanted to explore time and space, and as the lesson developed had the chance to explore so much more than we anticipated. We watched a scene from the high suspense film Day Night Day Night, by Julia Loktev, then listened and read the poem The House with Only an Attic and a Basement, Kathryn Maris.

Watching the film we entertained three ideas: a question for the excerpted work, what information we could gather from the scene, and considerations of before and/or after [the scene}. The point was to take an extended, close look at the film and gather ideas on what the artist was doing to pull us through the narrative. Students identified uses of color, light, sound, long close-ups on the character, limited dialogue, and the placement or use of objects in the scene to create suspense, slow down or speed up time, tension, and to build the narrative.

After the film clip, we listened to a reading of the poem by both the author and a student in class. Listening to at least two different versions of the reading is an ideal entry to the poem. Following the readings, we used the same extended looking to peel away what the writer was doing in the work. In both cases with the film and the literature, we stayed away from meaning (it’s a good challenge for students), to examine the art and what the artist is doing to convey that meaning as practice for watching a film with subtitles: following the narrative as it unfolds, and looking for clues in the imagery and context, even as the dialogue flies across the screen (this practice especially essential for slower readers of text).

Often students get stuck in only knowing how to seek out meaning, analyze the text in a way that is tunneled and limited. In this exercise we create boundaries for students to slow down and look at the work, not just for meaning (though you can build that in later), but for technique, artistic devices, choices the artist is making. Students can become better writers by learning what a writer is doing in their work, not just what the work is saying or means (though that’s important too!).

In the end we wrote for a short time taking what we learned and trying to transfer that into the writing.

 

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So you want to make a documentary? – with Andrea Patton, Whetstone HS

Students want to make coming-of-age documentaries. Again, the coming-of-age theme is central in the film Girlhood. However, as I’ve learned from a range of visual media artists, documentaries just don’t happen, in other words, you turn on a camera and just film. Documentaries need a premise, intention, and could use some pre-writing as a way to organize ideas, the stance, or the narrative.

We watched the documentary They Call Me Muslim Diana Ferrero, and gathered as much information as we could, forging the meaning or premise of the film (though that was tempting to many students), but rather what the filmmaker was doing to deliver or convey that meaning or premise. We considered that if they want to make documentaries, they should watch a few to learn to the craft.

With help, students did a nice job keeping their opinions of the subject matter of the film to themselves, and keeping a sharp focus on what the filmmaker did to highlight the varying points of view of the subject matter. It was important to not get burdened by whether or not we agreed or disagreed with the opposite stances of the film, but rather to consider whether or not those stances were in balance. We watched the film to learn from the filmmaker and what she did or did not do in conveying the perspectives and subject matter, resisting chiming in with our opinions on said subject matter (there will be plenty of time to debate that later).

 

Mastering the Argument – with Elise Allen, Central Crossing

Students will inevitably have to write persuasive pieces, argument essays, works that try to convey a notion to the reader. But before students can do that they need to know who that reader is, make a few assumptions, and then on to the persuasion of said reader. However, if students never learn to write to, or at the very least consider their reader or audience beyond just the teacher grading the essay, students will get stuck repeating the same ideas over and over again without bringing in any evidence or fact to support the stance. We encouraged students to think beyond just writing to the teacher. Who is your audience, and how will you convey your stance to that audience? If the only assumption is your audience is your teacher; that limits the risks a writer will take to convey an idea or stance.

We watched a short documentary film, They Call Me Muslim, by Diana Ferrero. The film explores two sides of an issue, and students, while watching (with subtitles – more practice for the film Girlhood), gathered information. What is the thesis or stance? Who is making the case? How is the filmmaker making that case? Who is the audience? Watching an argument reveal itself on screen, allows students to see how an artist can “show and tell”. It also allows students to have a critical eye for bias, something that will help students curb bias in their own writing.

In the end, we explored the visual argument as practice for text-based argument writing. The documentary is a good resource for exploring how-to tackle persuasion.

 

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All the World’s a Stage (and we wonder what it sounds like) – with Laura Garber and Sarah Patterson

With Shakespeare in our pocket and Girlhood on our mind, we explored coming-of-age in a slightly different medium – music. After viewing and listening to the BBC’s beautiful visual mash-up, BBC a lifetime of original dramaof the text All the World’s a Stage, by William Shakespeare, we annotated ideas and discussed our ideas about the themes of the piece and looked to understand the seven stages both literally and figuratively.

Students then took to creating their own seven stages, interpreting the premise of that text using musical selections to represent their understanding of each of the seven stages. Students will also do some research on coming-of-age in France, grounding them with cultural context for the film. But the pre-visit, inspired by the Shakespeare piece, enabled students to not just read the piece, but create their own stages of lyrics and sound, an engaging way to explore the text and relate to it in the contemporary. Check out the Pages Twitter feed, @pagesprogram, to see examples of songs from students’ playlists.

 

 

-Dionne Custer Edwards

 

Big Messy Questions

As we prepare for the screening of the film Girlhood, a story of a teenage girl navigating the complexities of her life, exploring her perceived choices (and lack thereof), a reminder that included in your resource binder, or you can also find them here, https://wexpagesonline.edublogs.org/files/2015/07/GirlhoodResources-1lsg18s.pdf, are a few examples of related literary works to inspire our thinking.

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Image: Strandreleasing.com

Included are poems and short stories by Gwendolyn Brooks, Nikki Giovanni, Rita Dove, Emily Dickinson, Alice Walker, and Amy Tan… There are some male authors in the mix as well, but considering this film focuses its main character on the female voice, writings by female authors are a natural compliment.

As with the film, some of the included literary works (poems and short stories) uncover universal themes and experiences, while others are more nuanced, complicated, or culturally specific. These literary works are great starting points, as each piece offers its own big open questions, allowing enough troubling space for students to get lost in discussion and written reflection, opening up many entry points that not only intersect with the film, but also encourage creative and critical thinking.

Making space for students to wonder about some of these big messy contexts first gives them permission to wonder without a specific end point, deadline, or contrived purpose in mind. And often while students are conflicted, concerned with the end-game, the purpose, the point, the why they are doing something in school, the big messy open-ended questions raised in these poems and short stories, much like the film, offer no easy resolution, no neat and tidy answer or outcome. This will certainly frustrate some students, but will also allow them to take their own risks (sometimes calculated, sometimes messy) in their wonder, then maybe just maybe, translate some of that messy wonder into their writing.

Here are a few examples of big messy questions to wonder about in the context of this film:

What is on the other side of this choice?
What if I dare to dream?
What happens when someone tries to take away my voice?
What does my voice sound like?
Whose life is this anyway?
How do you know it’s love?
What if I make “the wrong” decision?
Who do you think you are?
Who do I think I am?
Who is in control of this situation?
What do I do now?
To get to tomorrow, what do I need to do today?

-Dionne

A Take On Speaking and Listening

ELA teachers sometimes gloss over the CCSS’s Speaking and Listening standards. Based on conversations with friends who employ 18-25 year-olds, this is evident in some graduates’ job performance. Our task is to help students work through problems with diverse partners in and out of class, assess information and data from a variety of media in a variety of formats, judge speakers’ use of rhetorical devices and their success or struggles therein, build and share presentations that go beyond [yawn] simply clicking through a PowerPoint, use technology for an authentic purpose in their talks, and adapt their speech to a given context at hand.

Many ELA teachers have received little or poor training for these standards. At one institution I know, almost every single professional development session in the last three years has been structured around collecting and using data to inform instruction; that’s useful, of course, however informed and interesting PD built around mastering the CCSS’s Speaking and Listening standards would likely spurn a sharper understanding of how and why we’re collecting said data and ultimately how to improve our students’ ability to articulate their thoughts, use their voice to elevate their places in the world, and give authentic attention to other communicators.

It’s essential we value our students’ skills in speaking and listening and it’s essential we structure class time to speak to these skills beyond merely a presentation or speech a year. After all, how can our graduates get what they want out of life if they can’t speak fluently and cogently to those that can facilitate opportunities for them? Even the professional literature falls short of a thorough discussion of these standards. Pathways to the Common Core (Calkins, Lehrenworth, Lehman) devotes a meager 5% of their book to aiding teachers foster success with these skills. Provided we remedy our lack of attention here, we can grow effective communicators, but any other course of action seems flawed. Having students sit quietly and zone out to our lectures isn’t the same thing as building sharp listeners, though in my observations this can sometimes be what some teachers think. Below are some of the key power standards in this strand:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.1: Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.2: Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.3: Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric (CCSS, 2014).

Above, we are shown to be responsible for a comprehension of the nature of sound itself: how it persuades us and can be used in presentations to great effect. I suggest using Julian Treasure’s work as a starting point here. To introduce yourself to some of his work check out: The Four Ways Sound Affects Us http://www.ted.com/talks/julian_treasure_the_4_ways_sound_affects_us?language=en and Sound Health in 8 Steps http://www.ted.com/talks/julian_treasure_shh_sound_health_in_8_steps?language=en.

Additionally, we are held to show students the importance of image selection and how images tell a story and are needed to aid human memory of key issues and details. I like Nancy Duarte as a resource to help me here. Check out her free digital book Resonate: http://resonate.duarte.com/#!page0.

We even have to discuss the nature of film: scene construction and choice, cinematography, and how these artistic choices can alter a message. Having students make propaganda films for and against an issue of their choice can really make this point come alive and the film festival you have with your students will make a great (and often humorous) impression.

The third strand above asks ELA teachers to employ tactics for students to use rhetoric and students can’t be left isolated to use strong metaphors, sound reasoning, and to avoid logical fallacies like ad hominem attacks without our guidance.

Speaking is about more than formal presentations or speeches. We need to value developing oral communication skills for all verbal communication situations our students might face. See below:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.4: Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning, and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.5: Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.6: Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate (CCSS, 2014).

Having students conduct a speaking project is not the same as modeling to students how to do that project efficiently and effectively. And even if we do model speaking and listening behavior and show examples, students might not see the importance of these skills in school as they’re rarely valued in their other classes either. I take a term score to assess their speaking as a form of active learning and participation in the construction of our class knowledge using this rubric: https://app.box.com/s/ee2y4w2ihc1s57xxmh21g18h3atc9m84.

In some ways, I wonder if Speaking and Listening might be the most important skills for students to hone. I think of powerful and successful people like former President Lyndon Baines Johnson who basically never read a book in his life and yet achieved an immense amount for himself, his family, for Texas, and for civil rights in this country (obviously, Vietnam tarnished his legacy). JFK wasn’t much of a congressperson or Senator (achieving little) but he rose to the presidency out of nowhere, in part, due to his gifted orations and ability to listen and connect with others. I think of the multimillion dollar businessperson Keith Ferrazzi whose writing skills aren’t much to be admired, but whose business acumen (listening for what matters and ignoring what doesn’t) and speaking skills (quite seductive to audiences and customers) rival anyone’s. Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was an incredible writer and thinker, but his inability to connect with others and speak confidently about his ideas relegated him to obscurity in his own lifetime. I suppose my point is immense success and financial stability can follow simply if one knows how to listen, what to listen for, how to speak well, when to speak, and to whom you should speak to get what one wants out of life.

Ultimately, I suggest students listen to people who have what they want and then borrow ideas as they build their own path to wellness. I suggest speaking like the people who have what they want in life and seeing if that edges them down the road to whatever it is they seek. And, since many students—and adults for that matter—don’t know what they want, listening out for what they might want and using their voice to get closer to finding what they might want seem essential skills we should take better care to nurture.

–Mr. Aaron Sherman, ELA Facilitator of Educational Opportunities
Sherman@artcollegeprep.org
@Aaron_n_Wndlnd

Cincinnatti Goddamn

On the September 1st, the Wex is hosting a screening of this documentary and the filmmakers will be there for a Q & A. It is free! Once a month, the mosaic seniors have a “date night,” and this event will be our first. I am looking forward to seeing this and the dialogue it is sure to spark in class the next morning! The GCAC posted a thoughtful “The Power of Art is Not Always Comfortable, And That’s a Good Thing” article on the event.

 

Image: Melvin Grier

Girlhood Cont.

There’s never enough time, and who knows that better than educators. So in an effort to offer up a few larger themes to think about and potential pathways, here is a summary of some of the ideas we talked about (briefly) today. Remember, the key is not necessarily writing “about” the art or “studying” only the art per se, but rather leveraging content, context, concept, and even techniques of a work or works of art as an alternative point of contact or engagement with a particular theme or idea. I might also add, that experiences with contemporary art are bursting with bits of sensory input, emotional space, and sophisticated contexts. Engagement with art expands avenues or pathways to learning, or exploring a particular idea, concept, or theme. Think of these experiences with art as additional texts. Though these terms are important, it helps not to get hung up on the words “art” or “creative”.

image source: strandreleasing.com

‘Girlhood’ presents a host of themes that include:
-explorations of identity (cultural, gender)
-implications of socio-economic circumstance (class, access or lack of access to resources, education)
-coming-of-age (in a modern world, in another country)
-abuse
-choice and intention

Ways into the work include exploration of:

“I” / “Me”- Meet learners where they are, searching self, looking into self, but encourage some stretching into more awareness, some vulnerability, honesty, authenticity.

Writing might include some creative nonfiction or memoir, recalling a time, a moment (from childhood) when everything changed, when nothing would ever be the same?

Further thinking might move into just beyond “I”, an exploration of “I” among choices and circumstances  (I want, I wish, I wonder)

‘a song in the front yard’ – Gwendolyn Brooks
Check out this recitation by Alfre Woodard at the Aspen Institute
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uN8lucBHI7U  (3:56-5:07)

Many of the scenes in ‘Girlhood’ also offer opportunities to explore time, choices, implications of circumstance, character, empathy, and point of view.

Pathways may include first or second person writings, research opportunities and critical thinking on socio-economic issues and how certain circumstances might impact life outcomes, explorations of identity (gender, cultural), and discussions on intention and choice.

I like your idea about a group screening session, but in the meantime, if you can’t wait, ‘Girlhood’ is available for download on Amazon and Netflix.

 

image source: strandreleasing.com

“When it comes to free speech, journalists should be activists”

Dan Gillmor writes an interesting piece on issues pertaining to Forbidden Voices in an article you can find here: https://medium.com/backchannel/when-journalists-must-not-be-objective-fad5aadd8cb3

He starts by discussing how The New York Times recently took what appears to be a strong stance against government intrusion in their work by asserting in an editorial that they had, “no intention of altering its coverage to meet the demands of any government — be it that of China, the United States or any other nation.”

The above stance doesn’t seem to jive with CBS, as a CNET (a subsidiary of CBS) reporter Greg Sandoval recently tweeted: “Hello all. Sad to report that I’ve resigned from CNET. I no longer have confidence that CBS is committed to editorial independence.” He went on to suggest CBS had interfered with an editorial decision.

One of the issues the reading calls to my mind is whether or not an English class should enter into and teach issues surrounding Net Neutrality. This certainly seems to be an ever-emerging issue that students may have to continue to confront and/or fight on behalf of. The Internet as it looks today may become a different place if legislation like SOPA and its sister bills ever comes to pass.

In some ways, the Internet is the new town square. It’s a place where our voices can be heard and our ideas shared freely. If this global town square ever closes on us all, I’m not confident such a decision would bring happier and more educated people into being.

Media Arts Experience: Meet Our Panel

Meet our panel of for tomorrow’s program.

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Anisa Gandevivala 

“Anisa is a physician turned manager, turned consultant, turned writer, poet, artist, connector and educator living in Columbus, Ohio. She tries not to be attached to labels and feeds her soul instead with creative projects and writing about obscure ideas, identities and hidden social forces. Anisa hopes for societies and people to actualize, learn and grow; she runs a workshop event called, ‘The Connection Experiment’, that explores important themes through ‘Creativity, Community and Consciousness’. She enjoys encouraging people to take creative risks, to be open to possibility with themselves and others, and, to listen to their soul. She also supports writers by hosting creative writing-poetry-art workshops and by working with the ‘Columbus Creative Cooperative’, a local publishing house, to make resources available to writers and artists.”

 

 

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Robin Post

“Robin Post is the supervisor and creator of InterACT, the director of the Shakespeare and Autism program and the coordinator of newly developed teaching artist program. InterACT is a community engagement theatre program, established in 2006, whose mission it is to devise and perform interactive theatre with socially conscious content. Robin established InterACT as a service learning course which has developed partnerships across disciplines with university departments, colleges, and administrative units as well as with organizations and institutions within the greater Columbus community. The partnerships have resulted in dozens of interactive performances offering hands on training to university instructors in the areas of diversity inclusion and social justice.” —theatre.osu.edu/people/post 

 

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Mark Lomax

“Inarhyme Recording artist Mark Lomax II has spent a lifetime in music. His mother, a composer of gospel music, introduced him to both gospel and jazz at an early age. He continued his study of gospel music with Dr. Raymond Wise, founder of the Center for the Gospel Arts, where Lomax currently teaches… He is currently pursuing a Doctor of Music Art’s degree in composition at The Ohio State University. His myriad experiences have allowed him to create a wonderful blend of styles in his music. Whether he’s interpreting the Negro Spiritual through jazz, arranging gospel music for a symphony orchestra, or performing his original works, his music is relevant, probing, and inspiring.” —Jazz Columbus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Egyptian Blogger Alaa Abd El Fattah on Hunger Strike

Egpytian blogger Alaa Abd El Fattah was sentenced to fifteen years in prison this June for “for spurious accusations made in connection with his longstanding and influential activism.”

I’ve been to prison. (It was on a tour, but it was enough for me to know it was a place to be avoided.) I imagine an Egyptian prison would make the Lucas County Correctional Facility look like the Four Seasons.

Below is a link that will take you to a brief article from the EFF (Electronic Freedom Foundation) that outlines his case and what little help  organizations like the Media Legal Defense Initiative can lend to imprisoned bloggers.

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2014/08/mldi-and-eff-petition-un-working-group-arbitrary-detention-case-alaa-abd-el-fattah

Fattah has said, “”I will no longer play the role they’ve written for me.”

Such a statement makes me wonder how often we all play roles others have written for us. Maybe we should all try to be the screenwriter, handle the casting, direction, and editing of our own life story–at least as much as we can. (I suppose editing would imply the ability to go back and fix mistakes, but for me it’s more about editing out people, ideas, attitudes, and debates that do not serve my psychological well-being.)

Blogging is just writing online. Saying what you see, think, feel, and claim to know. How could such a seemingly minor act cause so much fear? Answers of course are found in the so-called Arab Spring and in nations like Russia–where Vladimir Putin has essentially ruled in a quasi-fascist society for most of my life.

Tim Berners-Lee (the man who basically invented the Internet and gave it away for free) has recently called for a Magna Carta for the Internet. Perhaps–in the interest of all human being on this Earth–we should consider participating in his project, or at the very least listening to his TED talk on the subject.

http://www.ted.com/talks/tim_berners_lee_a_magna_carta_for_the_web

http://www.ted.com/talks/tim_berners_lee_the_year_open_data_went_worldwide?language=en

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