Eminent Speech Final Version (Document of Learning)

The final version is here.

It has morphed and evolved in these days leading up to NotN, and although still very familiar to those who read the draft(s), I believe my core idea has become more polished. If you agree, or disagree, let me know in the comments!

Post NotN edit: If you have any feedback for the performance on the night of (I know my beard fell off), it’d be awesome to hear it!


Hi Grandma

It’s me again

I miss talking to you

I was asked by the Vancouver Opera to write a show for them

They asked me all sorts of questions

Shane could you tell us about your experience with bullying?

Shane how did you get over it?

Shane what do you want to say to all the kids who are being bullied right now?

Those are questions I’ve been asking all my life

I said “my experience as a victim was being lost in a desert, but don’t mistake me for a traveler –

the how’s and why’s of my journey have always escaped me”

I said “I didn’t get over it so much as I endured the heat-

I turned my burns into words that were juicy enough to satisfy my thirst.

My sunspotted vision became a kaleidoscope through which the sounds seemed to slot into place-

I became a poet”

I said “there are youths that treat each breakfast before school like their last sip of water”

What I would tell them is

Remember how quickly a palm turns into a fist

Finger by finger like clockwork

Tick tock

All you can do is do your time

But both hands are stuck on the 11th hour

your new day is an eternity away

Its not fair

Its not reasonable

It shouldn’t be you but it is

Grandma,

I’m a little lost

And I know that

A poet without words is a kid without salvation

So I am looking for your wisdom

There are deserts full of kids asking God why He chose them.

And they are still waiting

For their clock to run out.


If you made it this far, you’re pretty great! Thanks for reading.

Poetic Justice

Stickboy, created and performed by the Vancouver Opera Company, is the work of visionaries. It combines animation with set design; a sharp, modern and powerful score; and a libretto that, more often than not, aims to emotionally suckerpunch the audience. Stickboy follows the true story of a boy, raised by his grandmother, who is brutally bullied at school. This catalyses the boy into a bully himself, and only after an intensely traumatizing period of self harm does he gain the insight that forces him to change his ways.

What Stickboy doesn’t illustrate, however, is that the boy went on to begin a life of artistry. Weaving words into tapestries to both entertain and educate, the boy gained international acclaim when he performed his spoken word poetry at the 2010 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremonies. That opportunity catapulted him into a performance career that has garnered admiration worldwide.

That boy’s name is Shane Koyczan.

koyczan

 

I know, rockin’ neck beard right? I’m a little worried as to how I’m going to pull it off – because I am going to be becoming Mr. Koyczan for the Eminent Person Project in 2014!

I have been looking forward to the Eminent Project ever since last year’s ended.  I was planning to a do a woman, you see – expressly for the purpose of breaking the frustrating dynamic of ‘no boys in TALONS have ever done a female Eminent Person.’ However, as soon as I realized I could do Koyczan, those lofty dreams fell out the window.

Shane Koyczan was the voice that drew me into slam poetry. I can remember long nights, burning the midnight oil, listening to scratchy Youtube recording’s of his work. I would be amazed at the way he wielded words like a scalpel with which to cut apart the listener’s preconceptions of tragedy. Never, had I thought that I would one day be trying to emulate that same art form.

A year or so after I discovered listening to poetry, I discovered writing slam poetry. Since then, it has been a roller coaster of performances, rapid growth and an expanding acceptance of what ‘art’ is. At my school, I am trying to give back that experience of poetry to my peers. It seems only fitting, that my Eminent should reflect the beginnings of this journey.

Koyczan was born in Yellowknife, 1976, but grew up in Penticton, British Columbia; his family moved there due to the awful bullying at his school. Little could they expect that the cycle would continue in Penticton, only this time with a cruel twist – Koyczan became the instigator that he had hated so very much in Yellowknife. In his grade 12 year, Koyczan began cutting, which he says was “because of the immense hatred I held for myself. I suffocated in it. Cutting was, it seemed to me, letting light into my body.”

In 1993, Koyczan was rushed to the hospital due to critical blood loss. The near death experience was the turning point in his life. This is where Koyczan left behind much of his anger, and began writing.

One of the fantastic things about Koyczan’s work is that he writes strictly about his own experiences. He disguises them in flowing, rythmic verse; and it makes every single one of his poems so much more poignant. He has been praised by critics for speaking to the issue “as if he had lived them,” which in turn brings about responses from his fans, explaining that he has, in fact, went through the things he writes about. His poetry is very real.

In 2005, Koyczan published his first book, which was selected by The Globe and Mail and The Guardian for their best book of the year lists. Following up that success, he performed the poem We are More at the 2010 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremonies, garnering him international acclaim. He is a rising star of the global sphere.

we are more

Koyczan’s eminence comes from his excellent poetry. His excellent poetry, in turn, is given a unique, sharp viewpoint due to his childhood. I will be studying his art, his story, and perhaps most importantly of all – his future.

In 2013, he created a video called To This Day with the animation company Giant Ant. To This Day is arguably his greatest success, going viral on Youtube with over 13.4 million views. It speaks to the bullies, the victims, the bystanders, and gives all of them hope for the future. The momentum this gave him allowed him to write and produce an Opera, known as Stickboy (refer to the beginning of the post).

stickboy

Shane Koyczan has the eye of the world on him, and he seems to only be going bigger with each accomplishment.

“May the depth of your despair remain only in the shallow end.” – Shane Koyczan

 

In-Depth 2014: Retrospective & Presentation (#6)

I am honoured beyond all doubt to have spent the last two months preparing for Hullabaloo 2014. Emma Field, Lyle Hendriks, and I, Jamie Fajber, took to the stage intending to pour out all the many, many hours that we have spent writing, practicing and refining our poetry. It is to my great joy that I can say that the Gleneagle team came home with 2nd place in BC!

In every single aspect, credit here goes to our mentor Jacob Gebrewold. It’s hard to take what he has given us and put it into words. He took Emma and I, two novice grade 9 poets who showed maybe a little bit of potential, and turned us into silver medallists in TWO MONTHS. Even more impressive is Lyle, who came so far in just a few weeks, when he had to step up to fill in the gap on our team.

Jacob is miraculous. Without a doubt I can say that I have never met a better role model for all things life than Jacob Gebrewold.

In these recent months, my heart has been expanded to fit new quantities of love for so many people that I have met. Hullabaloo was an incredible experience in every way I could describe it.

Rehabilitation to school has been tough. Sometimes, life after something so perfectly wondrous seems pretty unglamorous.

However, there are things that can help you begin to appreciate it all again.

1) Chocolate.

2) Being excessively intent on school.

3) Sleep loads.

I fully intend to keep on writing and performing poetry. This has blown up more than I could have ever dreamed of, and I want to do nothing more than perform and workshop in classes at Gleneagle, maybe help spread the art form.

On the note of In-Depth night itself – I am going to be performing some pieces of course! I don’t actually need a learning centre. Depending on the time we are allotted, Emma, Lyle and I may or may not conglomerate our time so we can do some team pieces as well as some individual ones; however, if we only get three minutes we will probably stick to individual pieces to showcase everyone.

I will be posting a new poem very soon as well – its in it’s first form but I’d love to get some feedback!

Cheers,

Jamie

Georges Danton: “My only regret is that I am going before that rat Robespierre.”

Oh Camille.

These words will never be recorded – never be transcribed into the annal’s of history, the lament of the one’s chained to doom. I would scream to the very heavens for eternity if I thought for a moment that it would make a difference… this isn’t fair.

I know it’s childish, this fear of death – but I assure you, Camille, I go into God’s hands with my head held high. It is not the act of dying I am afraid of. No, surely not, what I fear is what I am leaving in this world of the living.

This revolution was born from the fruits of OUR LABOURS, Camille, the sweat from our brows and our backs greased the cogs of this machine. We changed the very foundation of France, overthrowing the corrupt monarchy and all we get for it is an early unwanted death. For our services to our country we are rewarded with oblivion.

Oh Camille, what wondrous men we were, what wondrous men we could have been.

Camille, they will surely weep for us. Take some little comfort from that.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Robespierre.

I curse you Robespierre.

I curse you Robespierre, such that your soul will never find it’s way into God’s light. I curse you, such that your spirit will be spit out of heaven and you will spend eternity falling, ever falling. Falling, in the way that the wind will rip you from history and your insanity will be dissolved into the air.

I curse you.

We once had, if not brotherhood, at least mutual understanding. We were creating a France that our children would be proud of. I know not when your idealism became madness but I must have failed to see the signs, because I was not prepared for all the murders, and all the terror that you instilled into this country.

Robespierre, you will follow me into dissolution. I will drag you down screaming, and we will fall together.

______________________________________________________________________________

“Don’t forget to show my head to the people. It’s well worth seeing.”

______________________________________________________________________________

In the dying light of day the great leader seemed to be rising out of his tomb as much as preparing to descend into it. Never was anything more bold than that great athlete’s countenance, never anything more formidable than the look of that profile which seemed to defy the knife. That great head, even as it was about to fall, appeared to be in the act of dictating laws.

______________________________________________________________________________

Georges Danton, born on October 26th 1759, and died on April 5th 1794.

 

Georges Danton: A King in Peril & A Hope for France

Dear Camille Desmoulins,

I write with a fervour – limitless energy flows through my veins, as France is spreading her wings for the first time! Not three months ago today, I wrote you about the revolution that was surely going to begin. Although you agreed with me, when I dared to open my mouth to present my dream I was scoffed at behind closed doors. But I refused to give up hope, and now we are on at the crest of this wave of change. Oh Camille, I feel as though I am poised to strike the killing blow! First we stormed the Bastille and with my new position as Minister of Justice I have the legal means to take action against the King!

Although, not much action will need to be taken – the King has doomed himself. In his Royal foolishness, King Louis XVI was caught fleeing France; we have all the conviction we need to bury him and his legacy and create a new France, a France built on domestic peace, stability and justice for all! I must convince the people that the King must die; he cannot be allowed to become an obstacle to this Revolution.

Camille, our Caveliers clubs has grown to more than we could have ever dreamed of. Our organization has become one of the premier places of discussion in all of Paris. Along with the Jacobin’s club, we are the most powerful political society in the city.

Ah, the Jacobin’s club. My friend, I beg of you, be cautious around Maximilien Robespierre. He is a silver tongued serpent that has wove his way into our ranks. He speaks of great things but he masks his true desire – to burn all of our heritage and re-establish all of France’s Institutions in line with his own likings. It is admirable to hope for a France based on pure moral virtue, but it is unfortunately drastically unrealistic, and his radicalism is unsettling. Treat him with great discretion.

Camille, I promise to write again soon. You are my visionary brother.

Stay safe.

Georges Danton.

 

Midnight Oil Burns Quick (In-Depth #5)

Poetry can be defined in many ways: self expression through words, or using the figurative to bring light to the literal.

I choose to define it differently. Poetry, to me, is the crossroads between what is real and what is abstract. Bending reality into twisted words that can wrap up the listener and deposit them in a mirrored maze… it is a thing of beauty.

Poetry can be used to disguise and mutate simple truths to have greater impact on others; whats fascinating about poetry is that it works on yourself too.

Recently late nights have become one of the constants in my life. Poetry is the tool I use to forget that: yes, next week is going to be hard, and pretend that: yes, next week is going to be what I want to do. Fake it until you become it – a powerful mantra indeed.

When do lies you tell yourself become your truths? I hope it happens quickly. Hmmm. Maybe poetry is the answer to transmuting my mistakes to answers… certainly, poetry has been the answer to many things in my life it feels.

Poetry has become a release – when my emotions run fast like raging currents, poetry is the waterfall that drops them into a tranquil pool.

Poetry has become an escape – when tragedy strikes, it is my crutch. These past few days, I have needed that crutch a little more than usual.

Poetry has become the reward – when the work piles up hard in a week and I find myself bouncing between all the cogs of my machine; poetry is the emergency lever that stops the cogs spinning for a moment so I can just reset.

Funny, how poetry has so quickly become something I sacrifice for.

Tonight, the midnight oil burns bright. The stereotypical poet inside me yearns for me to stay up late, late into the twilight hours so as to gain more writing inspiration… the boy/man who wants to keep the promises I made to myself keeps saying “stay up, finish your commitments…” but Jamie wants to sleep.

Hmm. My muse says this is interesting writing material.

That would be an interesting piece, right? Sleeping? Does it really matter? Or should I sacrifice it to the teenage gods of procrastination and overestimation of self-capabilities…

Does this even make sense?

Is this even an In-Depth post?

No.

But it could be defined as poetry!

10/10. I see it in my dreams.

Goodnight to anyone reading this as late at night as I wrote it. And please, please, please, keep on sleeping.

Georges-Jacques Danton: Do you hear the people sing?

Before continuing, please find a passing minstrel to sing this.

To Camille Desmoulins,

The midnight-oil burns quickly these nights.

I am no stranger to writing; indeed, as an Advocate for the people in France I am often found penning various legal pleas. Recently, however, my wrist has grown weary. Too many people are crying out in the dark – crying out to be heard in a country where no one is listening. In the Cordeliers District, my home, my child’s home, the last place in France where liberty has not yet been violated; the streets have filled up with the wretched faster that I could have imagined. I pride myself on giving a voice to those who cannot speak; however, in the past month I have not been able to make a dent in the ever growing list of the needy. I must do more to help the people. When my beautiful France has become a battleground between starvation and altruism, I know that I must act.

Camille Desmoulins, my dear, dear friend. You spoke of a France where the Monarchy is not irreconcilably hostile to freedom, where the Monarchy is elected by the people and for the people. As children we spoke of this, but now, my friend, this needs to become a reality. We can make a radical change. It starts with us; we will be the spark that will ignite the Revolution! We speak of a transformation; I say it is upon us! Let the winds of change fan the flames as to consume the corrupt bureaucracy that has been in power far too long!

These nights I stay up deep into the witching hour; writing letters, drafting documents and bringing people together. Camille, I propose that we form a society of like-minded individuals. Every change starts with a few, but we need to take action and that means we need people that can help. Together we can make a difference.

And Camille, we are not the only ones that are beginning to grow weary of the inaction. Have you had the chance to peruse the “Petition of Women of the Third Estate to the King?” Women from all over France wrote this, my friend –

The women of the Third Estate are almost all born without wealth; their education is very neglected or very defective: it consists in their being sent to school with a teacher who himself does not know the first word of the language [Latin] he teaches. They continue to go there until they can read the service of the Mass in French and Vespers in Latin. Having fulfilled the first duties of religion, they are taught to work; having reached the age of fifteen or sixteen, they can earn five or six sous a day. If nature has refused them beauty they get married, without a dowry, to unfortunate artisans; lead aimless, difficult lives stuck in the provinces; and give birth to children they are incapable of raising. If, on the contrary, they are born pretty, without breeding, without principles, with no idea of morals, they become the prey of the first seducer, commit a first sin, come to Paris to bury their shame, end by losing it altogether, and die victims of dissolute ways. 

Do you see, Camille! The time to strike is now! 

I have a dream for a new France, my friend, and I am now of the opinion that our vision for this magnificent nation has become more than a pipe dream.

My fondest hope is that one day I will see it with my own eyes – and this day is coming, I promise you.

Sincerely,

Georges-Jacques Danton

In-Depth Update: Hullabaloo! (#4)

Three weeks today, Emma, Lyle and I, will be taking to the stage in Vancouver for the Youth Provincial Poetry Slam, Hullabaloo!

 

This is crunch time: where everyone is trying to write new poetry; workshop the delivery of the poetry; and then obsess about it incessantly. The team has been meeting up with Jacob (our mentor) twice weekly for the past few weeks, and as we get closer to Hullabaloo that frequency may even increase further.

Mentoring sessions with Jacob are a fascinating thing; it’d be interesting to record a session and then watch it later for reflective purposes. We discuss poetry first and foremost, but somehow all sorts of thing get jumbled in – business, philosophy, teaching, interpersonal skills, to name a few – Jacob passes on a lot of knowledge and wisdom in a very short amount of time. He also is completely shameless (in the best way). On the Sunday before school started back up, we met up at the Starbucks near Chapters at 7:30 in the morning. Upon Emma, Lyle and I professing we were still a little sleepy, he brought us out to the empty parking lot, and proceeded to force us all to run suicides.

Not my preferred morning wake-up call, but it was definitely effective.

Speaking of waking up: I would like to share something really wonderful with the world. It is a phrase, coined by Ms. Britta B (check her out on Twitter!), that you say every morning.

“My, my, my… what a day to be alive.”

The beautiful thing about this phrase is that you say it as angry as you feel, or as tranquil as you feel…

“MY MY MY WHAT A DAY TO BE ALIVEEEEEEEEE!”

Or as happy as you feel.

Now this concludes the reflection portion of this post… however if you stick around for a little while longer, I would love it if you wanted to offer any sort of feedback on a poem that I have written. It is titled “Rainbows and Forgiveness” and it explores the idea that parents need not be together, but for the sake of the child, reconciliation is important.

I recommend you reading out loud, but the choice is 100% yours. Again, any feedback is appreciated.

-Jamie

Rainbows and Forgiveness

I am the most illustrious dichotomy there has ever been

a never ending bending phenomenon

 

my mom and dad named me roy

roy means red in gaelic

but for me roy has always stood for red orange and yellow

I am the perennial hello to faces pressed against rain streaked windows

made from two parents that individually represent the greeting to a new day

and the beauty of washing away and starting anew

since birth I have been made up of colours

and both of you, my progenitors from separate planets

need to see my light

because I know you can’t be near each other anymore

but I am not complete when you are driven apart

 

of the colours I am made of

blue is what I see in you dad

despite taking up two thirds of planet earth

you are smooth cool calm

simultaneously synchronized disparity and perfect tranquillity you have the capability

to be quiet

as an empty home or so loud it

feels I’m burning up at the edges

but you put me out before I catch aflame

I see myself in you easier than I see myself in a mirror

and so I can see you are scared: you hide mom away from me like she’ll shine the light on all your insecurities

and I’ll give away my love for you

dad

I don’t believe in impossibilities but i do believe in exceptions

I am the immaculate conception between two primal forces

you gotta trust me when I say that if you make a leap of faith here I’ll catch you

when you are without mom you are always falling its hard to be brave when you’re always falling

rain is funny that way

but when you are with mom you are lighter than air

you fly upward

towards her

and maybe for a moment you can have a silent staring contest

you always break first

 

of the colours I am made of

mom

you are yellow rays burnt red bright fire dire wrath

larger than life

you have never met me but your influence continues to shape me

everything turns around you

and despite the light that blinds you

you dare to give life a chance over and over again after all the mistakes

so please give dad a chance even after all the mistakes

mankind have an expression “to err is human, but to forgive is divine”

and as the greatest celestial being I know I have to assume that you will follow your own nature

 

of the colours I am made of

you mom and you dad represent pieces of me

fragmented possibilities of what i could be

dad blue

mom yellow and red

Your mere reconciliation brings new colour

into everything I am and everyone I touch

orange green indigo violet

of the colours I am made of

you represent the separate parts that are less than half of what was meant to be my destiny

I don’t ask for you to be together

only to put this beneath us

so we can go up, somewhere over the rainbow that I am

and see the joy that I can bring

when a family can overcome the tragedy of completely separate natures

at least, every once in a little while

 

you named me Roy G Biv

in French, it means regal

and so to live up to my name I promise

I do not blame anything upon you

I have an irrepayable debt to you, my parents

that will never be fulfilled

but… if I was born to be the most illustrious dichotomy

an apology, or a moment of generosity,

or a spoken-out loud affirmation that yes there was animosity but paradoxically

the sun chilled out

or the rain dried up any leftover tears

I the rainbow

would be the most proud son of the sun, there has ever been

(Thanks to Mr. Albright for giving an interesting idea about taking turns in a poem – it really helped this piece!)

 

Socials Assessment

  • Describe your selected section of the unit and what you understand to be the main idea at the heart of understanding it.

Emma Field, Aidan MacDonald and I researched, analyzed, synthesized and presented information on Oliver Cromwell and his son Richard Cromwell. We covered their roles in history, their impact on the English Civil war and (hopefully) generated discussion/introspective thought on the morality of their actions during the 1600’s.

  • Considering your own presentation, as well as those of others:
    • What are you proud of contributing to your group and the class’ understanding of your topic?

The Fajber-Field-MacDonald Trifecta (FFMT, for short) was quick to decide on our course of action with regards to this assignment: we all agreed to make a song. After further discussion, it was proposed and then agreed upon that we would additionally create and present a timeline chronicling the life and times of the Cromwells, therefore putting all our information into a more accessible format.

We split the timeline into three sections, and the song was created in a 6 hour writing/recording session that used materials such as: video-cameras, Aidan’s laptop, excessive amounts of Chai Tea Latte, and repetitive vocal support on the part of Emma and Aidan that I was to be the lead singer.

    • How would you alter or improve your group / class participation to ensure better understanding of your topic in future units?

FFMT was the best quad in TALONS history. ‘Nuff said.

In all seriousness, we worked very well together.

With regards to class participation…

I have been undertaking a vigorous mental exercise that has doubled as a thought experiment; for the past month or so in the TALONS room I have been endeavoring to speak less and to listen, truly listen, more. The catalyst for this change in classroom behavior was a discussion we had during the Wiki section, where Vanessa’s diplomatic chops caused me to re-evaluate the impact I was having on discussions.

Being quieter was a rather fascinating thing to try and do, really, and over spring break I have had a lot of trouble putting these thoughts into words. The conclusion that I drew included, but were not limited to:

  • The TALONS, as a whole, are ineffective decision makers; however, this is because we are generally primarily concerned with hearing everyone out. That is not something that I wish to see change. Despite this, the lack of forward momentum which arises in most class discussions involving choice is a frustrating thing to observe without personally jumping in and doing what (I feel), would increase our effectiveness, and therefore our overall time we had left to do things.
  • Our class contains people that put their opinions forward, and those that choose not to. This seems like a surface assumption, but over these past few weeks I have had the opportunity to think about it a lot. I want to hear everyone’s opinion, but I feel a NEED to move things forward. I get physical pain in my chest when we use entire blocks for simple discussions; not because I think the discussion was unimportant, or unneeded, but because we could have discussed what we needed to speak about and then discuss what we wanted to speak about. That’s all. How this relates back to the idea of certain people choosing not to put their ideas forward… to reach our highest cohesive success, every TALONS needs the confidence to put their ideas forward, and the restraint to hold their ideas back. I can say now from experience that the latter is more difficult then one might think. This means that when you feel your thought is worth saying, you say it. No one can fault you. But when you are saying something for the sake of being heard or rehashing something that you or someone else is unhappy with, unfortunately you have to exercise your self-control. This was hard for me to initially understand (it seems we TALONS have very ingrained ideas and values of justice), ‘how can you let something happen when you could and should forward a better option?’. For In-Depth, my mentor, Jacob Gebrewold, had Emma and I read the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. It reads as such: You give up to go on.

It was an interesting thought experiment, and one I recommend to other people in our classroom that have the inclination to speak often and freely. Because of this self-imposed restriction during the course of this project I contributed less than I had the capacity to; however, I am glad that I took the opportunity to gain this new insight.

  • How should we as a class look to improve future experiments in collaborative unit planning / teaching / assessment? ”Ask and yea shall receive…”

I think the project was well-formed, cohesive, and excellent for learning retention (I will never forget ‘Black Tom’ from the English Civil War). The problem that I personally had was the time it took to get off the ground. I will not waste your time describing again my thoughts on our class discussions.

  • Other than your own section, describe an element of the unit which captured your interest.
    • What will you remember about it?

I could go into detail on almost every quad’s project (in my opinion everyone had a high calibre lesson) but I’d like to take this time to highlight the Risk game.

The Risk game was successful in what it was aiming to do: to have the TALONS class actively learning about the battles and scope of the English Civil War, all the while being engaging to (most of) the class. That’s no mean feat. The creators put a lot of thought into the game rules which was evident (food, special events, special units, etc.) but what really caused it to be effective was the evolutionary process it had over the course of the week it ran. Mr. Jackson pointed out how he was delighted to see that the Risk team was taking feedback and actually applying it; what may have been unsaid was how good an effect that had on the TALONS class. That constant change and recognition of feedback allowed it to go from a great, to an outstanding project.

    • How does it relate to your existing knowledge/feelings/assumptions about history and politics?

This unit is the entirety of my existing knowledge/feelings/assumptions about the English Civil War… but relating to modern day politics what struck me was how Mill-ian everyone was. The accepted school of thought was: For the Greater Good. Even the Parliamentarians who were fighting to put power into the common man’s hands subscribed to that belief.

  • Considering the entire unit (course material as well as collaborative unit planning and group work), what questions / issues did the English Civil War unit raise for you?

For me it was always about the morality of the actions taken by those in power. How did Cromwell manage to away with canceling Christmas? I’ve never fully agreed with the idea that power denotes corruption, but the English Civil War definitely supports that concept. It was a turbulent time filled with leaders that just took what they wanted (e.g. CROMWELL) and they became powerful for it.

Do the leaders of today follow the same principals of power that the leaders of yesterday did? Has the common man and woman gotten better at rejecting decisions they don’t agree with that are made by the powerful? How?

Food for thought, I guess.

  • Describe your daily engagement with the topics covered/discussed in class. Use examples of strategies and habits used in your daily studies.

High engagement in class. I really enjoyed this project and wanted to make the most of it, so I was doing my best to remain at a high level of engagement. At home, I will admit I was significantly less eager to do the daily readings and the review of my character for the court and everything else, too… but it paid off the end. Reading strategy #1: Write what you read, read what you wrote, and then compare what you read to what you wrote about what you read. Got it? Reading strategy #2: I do this all the time, actually… I pick a random song and then replace the lyrics with everything I just learned/read. You can’t forget Henrietta of France when you put her into a song, say, “Royals”…

 

  • How would you undertake a similar course of study to greater effect in the future? Aspects of this unit you would strive to duplicate or change to improve.

I would set aside a few minutes to make sure that groups weren’t doing the same thing. For example, two groups did songs. Nothing was wrong with either song, they were both excellent, in fact; however, repetition, no matter how well disguised is a contributor to boredom, and furthermore lack of engagement. A few minutes at the beginning to confirm that every group was using different media would have prevented that.

 

BIG QUESTION: Do you agree with the statement “Absolute power corrupts absolutely?” Why or why not?

No.

Studying the English Civil War gave me an interesting thought: 100’s of years ago, humans thought that humans were pretty great. They were pretty proud of themselves.

The idea that humanity is an unhealthy species appears to be a more modern opinion, and its interesting how quickly we jump to condemn ourselves. It is far easier to say that we are a disease, and appear wise, then it is to say we are strong, and appear arrogant.

So I ask forgiveness for my arrogance in this: I believe that we have limitless potential. It’s cheesy, yes, but there is something wonderful about the idea of infinite possibility. I reject “absolute power corrupts absolutely” because of this; I refuse to accept that no one has enough will-power to defy this old quote from a famous cynic.

….

Now I eat my words. With regards to the English Civil War, it seems as though Nietzche was right. King Charles, Oliver Cromwell, The Parliamentarians after Cromwell’s reign… no one really seemed to fit our classroom definition of “good guy(s).”

 

My Mentor V2 (#3)

Jacob Gebrewold is an excellent human being. I can feel it. Emma and I recently had our second meeting with him at the Starbucks adjacent to Chapters, and I was struck by his charisma, as well as the effort and planning that he is putting into our relationship. What I first thought was going to be just another writing session has turned out to be seminars on life, networking, and relationships; and that is not even getting into the poetry side of things!

On an unrelated note: clear communication is a beautiful thing, so all questions from here out will be clearly marked.

1) What went particularly well during your mentoring sessions?

The two mentoring sessions Jacob has facilitated thus far have been incredibly successful, because of his structured lesson plan that he brings to the table every single time- he knows what he’s doing. He assigns us homework (reading leadership literature & organizing poetry slams at Gleneagle & Workshopping w/ Emma), and we are slowly working our way through our curriculum- yes he has a curriculum- and everything is just dandy.

Side note:

Jacob is very, very good at what he does. I didn’t really realize at first how lucky Emma and I to have this opportunity… Jacob is the Founder and Captain of the Port Moody Secondary Poetry Team; which won Hullabaloo in it’s first ever year, mind you. He won the Vancouver Youth Grand Slam, and to top it off he has gone on international tours as an activist poet.

jacob

On to question #2.

2) Were you candid and open in your communication with each other? Explain.

We were incredibly open and candid with each other from the very start. For example, the first exercise he had us do was write down a pros/cons list of who we are as people. This was difficult and draining, but it made us comfortable with each other pretty darned fast.

3) What did you do to hold yourselves accountable for the learning?

For the first time ever, I am using a planner. This is not completely due to Jacob, TALONS has helped considerably, but I think there is a correlation, at least.